I had intended to write this and post it by May 27th, but between the Washington trip, and the devastating week we’ve had in Dixie, I did not have the opportunity to reflect on his life within that time-frame. Having missed the one-year anniversary, I resolved to simply remember SSgt. Flint on my own. As it has been more than a week, I’ve had much time to remember this young man and I didn’t feel I was doing him justice without posting something.
This is my humble remembrance of a great American.
I had just moved to the Atlanta area, and was riding with a Honda club. They never rode, and when they did ride, it was for pleasure and through their archives I could not find a single time they had participated in a charity ride or ride for any purpose. Needless to say, I wasn’t particularly happy with them. One day, someone posted a message that said, “Have any of you ever ridden with the Patriot Guard?” That day was May 25th, 2006, at 10:02 in the evening.
I read the PGR’s mission statement, signed up, and went back to the Honda club just long enough to say, “See you guys later.” At the top of the confirmed mission column was Staff Sgt. Marion Flint Jr., 29, of Baltimore, Md. / Athens, GA. I had to be there, it was something I couldn’t miss.
In writing this, I realize that I know very little about Marion. I know he was married and had a son and a daughter. He was and will always be his little sister’s hero. His big sister looked up to him. His entire family loved this man so much, his character and strength pours out of their words. His soldiers trusted him and loved him, and he returned the love and care.
His nickname was Bugg, but I’ve never found out why, some called him Jay, and still others called him Big Flint.
I can recall instantly the names of at least 31 men and women from Georgia and surrounding states who have paid the ultimate price for the continued freedom and security of this nation; but none of those names have so much impact on me as the name Marion Flint. I spent Memorial Day this year honoring Pfc. Travis Haslip of Chattanooga, through the whole day, Marion Flint was remembered by me, and his family held the top position, directly after the family of Pfc. Haslip, on my prayer list. For the past year I have wondered why Marion Flint’s mission has been so much more emotional and personal for me, and on Memorial Day, I got my answer. Until May 27th, 2006, I had heard of soldiers dying in far off lands, but the closest it ever came was Pfc. Lori Piestewa from near my hometown, but I did not know the necessity nor the danger that they placed themselves in, nor for what.
Being in the Air Force, I will have to give an account to God for hundreds of lives I have directly taken, at least fifteen of them were noncombatants. My job was protecting soldiers on the ground, and I just couldn’t understand why, for all of our infinitely advanced equipment, soldiers were still dying.
When I took a life, it was from 550 miles away, I did not realize the extreme danger on the ground. When SSgt. Flint was killed, I began to look into the desperately evil and malicious methods which were and are being used by our terrorist enemies. It was until this moment that I genuinely thought we were fighting to give the Iraqi’s a free country; now I know that we are fighting terrorism because if we don’t, these purpose driven, hatefilled extremists will be free to wreak havoc on the entire world like they do on South West Asia. One year later, on Memorial Day, 2007, I realized that I owe so much to Marion Flint because he died in place of the free world; he fought and died so that I could live. I believe this epiphany is only second to the moment I realized why Jesus Christ had to die to redeem the world.
There is a poem which says, (bad theology aside)
Only two defining forces have ever offered to die for you:
Jesus Christ and the American Serviceman
One died for your soul, the other for your freedom.
At the moment that I realized the true implications of this poem, I couldn’t stop the tears from falling. Of the thousands of servicemen that have gone before me, I appreciate them all, but SSgt. Marion Flint will forever be the face of those men that paid the ultimate price for this beautiful country we live in.
Since May 27th, 2006, I have had the opportunity to visit Marion’s gravesite once, in October. Once again we will be in Athens to remember a fallen soldier, this young heroes name is Sgt. Shawn Dressler, and once again I hope to be able to pay my respects in person to the number one person I love whom I have never met.
Godspeed SSgt. Flint, Godspeed.