From Michael Yon:
CSM Jeff Mellinger is out there still “Walking the Line.” He did the longest continuous tour in Iraq that I have ever seen: about 2.5 years without a break except for normal leave. And he was seriously out in the red zone. I drove about 4,000 miles with him within Iraq checking on our servicemen and women, Walking the Line, and that was a tiny fraction of the work he did. And so he came back to the United States and is stationed in Washington D.C., but CSM Mellinger’s duties have taken him back to Iraq and Afghanistan. I got an email from CSM Mellinger this morning from Afghanistan. He was remembering SPC David Lee Leimbach, the latest Great American to give his life in Afghanistan fighting dark forces that wish to do us great harm. CSM Mellinger had written a private tribute to SPC Leimbach, and I immediately asked if I may publish it so others may see. Just a few minutes ago, I spoke with CSM Mellinger on the phone. He’s in Afghanistan Walking the Line right now, and says we are taking the fight to the enemy.
And so here is the private tribute written by CSM Jeff Mellinger in honor of our latest fallen warrior, SPC David Lee Leimbach, who gave his life in our defence:
This morning at 0600, we paid final respects to SPC David Lee Leimbach, a Taylor, South Carolina, National Guard soldier killed yesterday in the mountains of Afghanistan.
Just before 0500, an announcement came across the Bagram Airfield PA system for everyone to dress in their combat uniforms and assemble along the road which cuts through the middle of Bagram Air Base.
Little by little, troops from all services and many coalition countries began lining the main street of the base. They stood literally shoulder to shoulder on both sides of the road for nearly a mile.
At about 0530, a USAF C-17 landed (ironically from Charleston, SC), taxied, pulled into a space in front of the formed troops, turning its tail towards them. The ramp dropped, the engines shut down, the crew disembarked and lined up in front of the plane. All down the flight line, warriors stood at parade rest; talking and whispering stopped.
At 0600 on this bright, sunny day, the vehicle bearing the casket, having completed its drive from the mortuary to the airfield, turned onto the airfield. A single soldier walked in front of the vehicle to lead the way.
Along the road leading to the airfield, the troops that lined the road were standing at attention and saluting. On the airfield you could only hear the birds flitting around. In the distance were the sounds of aircraft flying their missions.
Now, the troops on the airfield came to attention and saluted as a bagpipe played Amazing Grace. The color guard moved into position, and those of us assembled near the plane came to attention and saluted.
Two cameramen ran ahead of the vehicle, recording the entire procession, and now the unloading and movement of the casket.
The casket, carried by soldiers of the unit, moved forward to the plane. The band played My Country, Tis of Thee. The casket was loaded on the plane, the senior personnel present (to include five general officers) walked onto the plane behind the casket, and final prayers and remarks were made, then those leaders and casket bearers disembarked.
As the assembled began to move from the site, the crew embarked, the ramp closed, the C-17 taxied and took off, and the fight continued.
I hope the family of this warrior knows that we loved him, too.
From every mountain side, let freedom ring!
Happy Memorial Day.