Outtakes: Needing Heroes
For the past two months, I’ve contemplated heroism. Sheriff David Morgan helped me crystalize many of my thoughts with his speech at the ceremony that honored the law enforcement officers who engaged the terrorist at NAS Pensacola on Dec. 6.
I agree with him that our nation today needs true heroes—not fictional movie characters or politicians that tout their courage for a vote on an issue, but heroes that risk their lives for justice and freedom, not for personal gain but for honor and duty.
“We want to believe in the truth. We want to believe that there’s still justice in our nation and the world,” said Sheriff Morgan at the awards ceremony. “We want to believe that decency still exists. There’s still those amongst us that if ever called upon to make that ultimate sacrifice that, yes, we too would answer that call.”
The stories of the men and women—military, law enforcement and civilian—who confronted the terrorist attack at NAS Pensacola must be memorialized and shared.
As the sheriff said, “We need to remember that courage and sacrifice are not Republican or Democrat—not white, not black, not Hispanic or any other ethnic group. It’s about duty and honor and country. Those who wear the uniform, we know that concerns about self are to be left at the door.”
The stories of heroism on Dec. 6, 2019, have yet to be told entirely, but the ceremony, which I covered in “Honoring Our Heroes,” gave us a glimpse of the bravery of those who confronted the active shooter.
Days before the shooting, I had met retired Lt. Col. Andrew M. Del Gaudio, USMC, the former Operations Officer of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade and who served in combat in Ramadi, Iraq. For his actions, Del Gaudio was awarded the Bronze Star with Combat “V” and the Purple Heart. Del Gaudio is member of Escambia and Santa Rosa counties’ Military Order of the Purple Heart, Chapter 566
Del Gaudio shared his experience in the Marine Corps and talked about being a team leader on antiterrorism cases with the local law firm Aylstock, Witkin, Kreis & Overholtz. We discussed the military veterans who have struggled since they’ve returned and how the firm has assembled a team of veterans to help their fellow service members—many who are heroes that go unnoticed for their acts of courage in Afghanistan and Iraq. The conversation led to my article “Still Fighting.”
It’s vital for our nation that we remember acts of bravery and sacrifice and pass on those memories to our children and grandchildren. We need to inspire the next generation of heroes.