Friday, October 27, 2006
Commander Bill "Wilbur" Kern, United States Navy
As I wrote over on my personal blog, business recently took me to the mountains of Southern Colorado. After I boarded the connecting flight in Dallas/Ft. Worth - taking my seat at the very back of the plane, I noticed a soldier in desert camouflage came down the aisle and prepared to take his seat three rows in front of me.
I would not have found him unique from other soldiers I'd seen at DFW airport had I not noticed the words US NAVY printed over his right breast pocket. Navy sailors don't usually wear camouflage and Marines have their own unique fatigues. As we prepared to disembark at Colorado Springs, I noticed a patch on his uniform featuring the Spy vs. Spy cartoon characters.
I made some comment about the patch and got to know Commander Bill Kern, United States Navy.
It turns out that Commander Kern was returning from Iraq for a two week leave from his duty station. Though a commissioned officer in the Navy, he taught courses at the United States Air Force Academy up until the time he was called for duty in Iraq. He wears the Army camouflage uniform because he spends most of his time working with soldiers. This story in the Virginian Pilot profiles Commander Kern as he prepared for his deployment to the Land of Sand.
Commander Kern's job in Iraq is one few men would volunteer for. He and the men in his unit are tasked with identifying and dismantling the biggest danger to US forces in Iraq - the Improvised Explosive Devices. In short, he puts himself in harm's way to ensure the safety of the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines of the United States Armed Forces.
Many of my fellow passengers thanked Commander Kern for the work he does and welcomed him home for his leave. He's a very humble guy and thanked the people around him for their welcome. I passed him, his beautiful wife and two small children on my way to baggage claim. I hope they enjoy their time together as Commander Kern will return to Iraq in about one week's time.
Thank you for what you do, Bill. It was an honor to meet you in person.
Good luck, Godspeed, and good hunting. May God watch over you as you protect your fellow man.
Here endeth the lesson.