“Decoration Day” was originally designated as America’s day of remembrance to commemorate both the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War. The name was later changed to “Memorial Day” when the honor was expanded to all Americans who have died while in the armed forces of the United States. It is one day where we Americans honor the more than 1 million soldiers, sailors, Marines, Coasties and airmen and women who gave their lives defending this country. On this day, we should stop and thank the warriors who are no longer with us but live on with the daily freedoms we enjoy. We have so many rights—we can say whatever we want, worship whomever and however we want—and don’t have a hostile force occupying our lands, all due to the warriors sleeping silently in countless cemeteries, lost in trackless jungles, entombed in sunken ships or still sitting in the cockpits of their crashed planes all over the world.

In 2013, we lost a man—and I lost a friend—who spent his entire life supporting a constant love, the United States of America. His second love was the U.S. Navy and its dive teams. James “Patches” Watson joined the Navy young, volunteered for the Underwater Demolition Team training (then called the UDTR) and was one of 14 who graduated out of 126 sailors who started the tough training. After becoming a frogman, Jim was assigned to UDT 21 and executed many difficult and tough assignments before becoming one of the very first Navy SEALs. Watson was hand-selected to be a “plank owner” assigned to SEAL Team Two, so he was there when the team was established and became one of the very first SEALs. He successfully completed Ranger training as well as being Airborne and closed-circuit underwater breathing apparatus qualified. He was one of the few SEALs trained for the deployment of “backpack nukes.” He served three tours of duty in combat the chief of a SEAL platoon and received 16 combat decorations, including five Bronze Stars. Watson participated in American POW rescue operations—in the very first one, he survived being shot down in a helicopter. Watson was also heavily involved with the Navy SEAL Museum for decades and was given the title of “Curator Emeritus” for his steadfast support and work with the museum.

Why mention this? Although he wrote several books with Kevin Dockery, including Point Man and Walking Point and was considered to be a living legend among active-duty SEALs, his interment at Arlington on April 11, 2014, although a slow news day, was not covered by the media or mentioned in the press. While Memorial Day is our national day of honoring those servicemen and women who have died in the line of duty, please take the time to thank and honor those Americans who made it out of combat alive but still carried their honor with them until they passed.

We at wish everybody a great Memorial Day. We join those who will take a moment to visit a lonely gravesite of a fallen warrior or take a trip to the Vietnam Wall, or stand in awe at Arlington to view the acres of brave Americans who gave their lives so we can be free. Free to live in a great country that takes a quiet moment every year to say thank you to men like Jim Watson, who lived a life of service, commitment and honor. We thank you, Jim, and other fine American heroes like you.

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