Growing up, I never understood what a day like Memorial Day meant. I always took it for granted and paid no attention to its significance. To me, it was just another day off from school. It meant more time playing with friends, seeing family, and eating lots of food. As I got older, I started understanding and appreciating what the day meant. It’s an opportunity to remember those who have fallen, giving the ultimate sacrifice for their country. I want to share with you two gentlemen who I had the honor of knowing and I will forever remember them for as long as I live.
The first gentleman is named Daniel (Dan) W. Eggers from Cape Coral, FL. He served as a captain in the US Army’s 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne), from Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He was a 1997 graduate of the Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina, located in Charleston, SC. He was a junior when I was a freshman. This guy was crazy: he could lift a steel chair with his bare teeth or eat a whole can of hot sauce in 10 seconds. During my freshman year in college, he constantly would come to my room and chit chat with my roommate and I. He would ask us how our day was, help us with classes, tell us where to go in town for a drink at 18 years old. Physically, he could run for days. There was no-stop to his madness. He would run and PT us into the ground. The funny thing was, he would be right there with us, doing the same things as we were, telling us he’s not quitting so why should we. After graduation, he received a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant. On May 29, 2004, he died in Afghanistan, supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. His vehicle exploded from an IED (Improvised Explosive Device). Three others died, along with Dan.
The second gentleman is also a graduate of the Citadel. Peter (Pete) Benjamin Ober came from Orange Park, FL. He served as a Lieutenant in the United States Navy, as a Naval Aviator. He was another upperclassman who befriended me, during my freshman year. Even though we did not have regular contact, he always seemed to find me on campus. I had no idea who he was, but he knew me. One day after lunch, I was walking back to my room. He called out my last name and I stopped. He smiled and asked where I was from. I told him I was from Orange Park, FL. That’s when he introduced himself to me. He told me if he ever saw me on campus he would yell, “Hey Comia, you down with OPP?” In reply, I would say, “Sir you know me, sir.” Just like in the rap song, OPP by Naughty by Nature. It was our little saying to let each other know that we came from the same hometown and to put a smile on our faces. He graduated from the Citadel in 1998 and received a commission as an Ensign. On July 16, 2003, Lieutenant Ober died in a helicopter crash, near Sigonella Naval Air Station in Sicily. Three others died in the training accident.
I have been honored to have met these fine gentlemen in my life. They were a significant part of my college experience and I will never forget them. On hearing of their passings, I couldn’t believe it. It was like yesterday we were in college together. We shared laughs, sweat, and tears. We had a common bond that will never be replaced. I hope to see these men again, say thank you, and shake hands with them.
On this day, let us never forget the fallen. But, let us also remember those still serving, whether overseas or at home. For they inherit the burden of keeping our country safe from all enemies, foreign and domestic.
From all of us at Blue Line Station, have a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day.