Friday, September 7, 2007

Another loss for Charlie Battery

I just got to thinking back and it has been a while since I have written. I had a couple things I am frustrated about and wanted to write about, but realized I have failed to write about the loss of our second Charlie Battery soldier, SGT Michael Chenoweth.

I didn’t know Mike well at all. I always thought he was a little off, a little crazy. I had met him here and there and gone on a mission with him. Most people avoided him because he always had a crazy look in his eyes. His closest friends say that was one of his finest attributes, his “Crazy Eye”. It always seems that too often we lose someone before we really know them and I think I would have loved to be able to say I was Mike’s friend. I, however, will never have that honor.

SGT Chenoweth was a quiet man. That was also an attribute that defined him best. In the days leading up to his memorial service, I learned more about this one of a kind man. His job on mission was to cover rear security and protect the convoy and his team from someone sneaking up behind them. It was said that though no one likes being last, there was no one they felt safer with back there.

His best friend, Jimmy Freeman, said he often joked with Mike that God broke the mold when He made Mike. Jimmy’s heartfelt words struck deep within me as he spoke at the service. His love and respect of Mike could not be overlooked and I was sad for his loss, for our loss. Staff Sergeant Freeman is a tough, rough soldier that was born and bred to kill bad guys and I believe he is completely insane, but there aren’t many soldiers I’d feel safer beside when the bullets start flying.

He went on to speak of how Mike said such few words, that when he did speak, people listened. Officers, enlisted, it didn’t matter. Mike didn’t talk to waste his breath. He was respected by many, but respected few. For you to have Mike’s respect, you had to earn it, and as Jimmy went on, if you had Mike Chenoweth’s respect, you had something special.

The soldiers on his crew admired and respected Mike so much, that they had a saying. We all know the saying, “What Would Jesus Do.” As I started gathering pictures for the presentation, I found many pictures with “WWCD” written everywhere. At the time, I didn’t understand and I overlooked them. As I learned more of his crew and him, I learned it stood for, “What Would Chenoweth Do?” This soldier was so respected and so looked up to by his team of all ranks, they often considered what Chenoweth would do when they discussed the mission, tactics or anything as far as I could tell.

Mike was on his second tour in Iraq. He volunteered to come back and serve with us. A friend once asked him why on Earth he came back. Mike replied, “I left something here, I came to see if I could find it.” As much as I have learned about the man, about the soldier, I believe without a doubt that he would have wanted to go out in a blaze of glory to his dying breath. As fate would have it, Mike died while at home on leave, surrounded by family, doing what he loved. I believe it was God’s way of telling Mike that he did find what he came looking for.

All of my respect and thanks to you, Sergeant Michael L. Chenoweth.