Solemn Vow: Chapter 1
Distant thunder rumbled in the ashen morning skies overlooking the rolling hillsides along the Potomac. Gusting through the outstretched branches of leafless boughs, a frigid autumn wind added to the somber moment of the late November day. Patches of misty fog enshrouded markers of fallen heroes laying silent beneath the cold soil of Arlington. Among the rows of white headstones, a lone figure made his way to the burial site.
Captain Bryson McGann paid little attention to the chilling drizzle. His hazel eyes peered into the distance, centered on the approaching horse-drawn caisson. His six foot, two inch lean frame walked ramrod straight toward the funeral procession. He met them as they set the flag draped casket down on the lowering device above the open ground. Six enlisted men, well-practiced in the military ceremony, came to attention as they held the nation’s flag tightly in knotted fists.
The captain was the sole individual paying last respects to Master Sergeant Kyle Owens, and had seen to it he was buried with full military honors. Owens had no family, orphaned when he was two. A car accident ensured a solitary future, claiming his sister and parents. He enlisted after turning eighteen, and as they say, was married to the army. Sixteen years of service and for all his bravery, the soldier’s final reward was a posthumous Purple Heart and Bronze Star. Not to mention a patch of ground at the National Cemetery. A fleeting thought brought a smile to the officer’s face as a memory of Owens washed over him.
Droplets of water collected on the brim of McGann’s cap and fell onto his polished shoes. He stared at the tiny droplets. A knot twisted his stomach causing his mouth to dry as the Army chaplain began the short service. In some ways, he was thankful Owens had no family. He would not have known what to say to them. But he also knew this somber day would be etched indelibly into his memory.
A short distance away, members of the rifle squad came to attention and were ordered to execute a right face. The metallic snap of their weapon’s bolts was lost as the seven man squad fired their first volley. Captain Bryson McGann’s eyes tightened in response and his thoughts were instantly catapulted back to Iraq on the night of the mission.
(To be continued...)
Solemn Vow © 2016 by William Beck. All Rights Reserved