Name: Michael “Dadbo” Owen, MSgt USAF ret.
We have but one short life to live on this earth and many opportunities to live for God and country. But it seems that out of many conflicting perceptions we seldom make good on these moments. I stand here before the Lord, my sisters and brothers, veteran and civilian to give thanks and honor for the unique privilege afforded me by those who made the 2009 Run For The Wall a reality. This was and will always be a significant life experience for me to carry for the remainder of time. I am having almost as much difficulty trying to find the words to express my gratitude and appreciation of the RFTW effort as for those that have died for so many. It would be impossible to convey in this short letter what may take me a lifetime to realize. The selfless dedication, genuine concern for others, love of country, and the love of one’s neighbor is truly extraordinary. I am so grateful to so many people, most of whom I didn’t have a chance to meet let alone thank, that it has taken me awhile to try to express.
I have to admit I was a bit incredulous when Jim Perry and Ross Currie first told me about RFTW. I entered the Air Force in 1975 at the end of Vietnam, and admittedly didn’t feel the same pain as too many had in their return from that awful war. So I took a knee and asked God what I should do and slowly over the next few months it became clear that this was to be call I had to answer. I recognized that there was real need for recognition of the ultimate sacrifice of so many, the service of countless patriots and healing of many who came home wounded in body and spirit. What I didn’t count on was the healing I needed and received at the hands of so many. I didn’t know I had any wounds to mend, or scars to repair. But day after day, meeting hero after hero, seeing the pain in the contorted face of men and women I will forever consider friends, I saw myself and recognized my wounded spirit. In every mile we road, every town we entered, every man women and child cheering us on, every flag, and every salute I had the honor to return that I found the healing tears of God’s abundant love. Every day I melted a little more and accepted those curative tears.
I was on a quest to find what I needed to do to help my fellow veterans, but I found the answer to the prayer I made the day I departed for Rancho Cucamonga. “Lord, guide me to do your will on this run”. The
answer was to accept His grace to rid myself of the scars I had and allow the His therapeutic love to take place in me. Now I have a new prayer and a new mission to find those I can truly aid in their recover, to lend a hand where it can lift another, and to help this country recognize what needs to be done.
This may sound like the incoherent rambling of an FNG and that might be true, but it is the only way I’ve found to express even an infinitesimal portion of what I still can not fathom. “If you haven’t been there…” is etched on my soul and I have for the first time an inkling of what it must be like, and I am proud to call the airmen, soldiers, marines, sailors, and civilians who gave and are still giving,
Mike aka Dadbo
Green Knights 39 – Road Captain
Patriot Guard Rider
American Legion Rider
Msgt, US Air Force Retired
Run for the Wall / Rolling Thunder