I never knew Brian Bill, and unless you were a member of his family or went to school with him, chances are you didn't know him, either.
Bill was one of the when the helicopter they were traveling in was shot down by the Taliban with a rocket-propelled grenade in Afghanistan recently. The Stamford, CT native was a Navy SEAL and just 31 years old. When I saw Bill's picture which was accompanied by a story about his service to his country, I couldn't help but notice how young, happy, and vibrant he looked. It was as if Bill knew the world was his oyster and he could accomplish anything he wanted.
Bill accomplished a lot during his short time on earth. He played soccer and hockey at Trinity Catholic High School in Stamford, home of the great Bobby Valentine. He earned a college degree and went to military school. Bill also earned a commercial pilot's license, spoke French fluently, and was an accomplished mountaineer who climbed Mount Elbus in Russia. As a precocious teenager, Bill, according to his friends, was hell-bent on serving his county. And he did, representing the United States with the same passion, commitment, and dedication that he showed when he played hockey and soccer in high school for the Crusaders. Bill then became a Navy SEAL, perhaps the toughest and most respected soldiers in our military. He earned three Bronze stars, among his many military decorations.
Bill was a member of SEAL Team 6, the unit responsible responsible for hunting down and . The government doesn't release information on the specifics of who does what for SEAL Team 6 for security purposes, but after those SEALs turned out the lights on Bin Laden, they shined brightly in our country, didn't they?Seemingly, every news organization was doing features on just how tough, brave, smart, courageous, and physically fit these SEALs are.
Even though we didn't know exactly know who they were or what dangerous places they went into, the SEALs became like cult heroes in our country. It's just sad and unfortunate that SEALs only really get recognized when they die. Sounds harsh, but its true.
Nobody on the vaunted SEAL Team 6 was honored for the bravery they showed in taking down Bin Laden. They never will be, either, because of security purposes.I sometimes get annoyed when sportscasters, analysts, and other journalists use when describing teams and players. They say a team is "battle tested" because it goes up against a Top 10 powerhouse every week. Really?
Try going on foreign soil to battle a faceless enemy where every kid who walks up to you on the street could have explosives strapped to himself to kill you and your entire platoon. How's that for battle tested? I remember hearing Joe Buck calling Brett Favre a "warrior" because he got driven into the turf by a 300 pound lineman, then got up to throw a 50-yard touchdown pass on the next play.
Warrior? Brian Bill was a real warrior. He parachuted behind enemy lines under the cover of darkness and battled against soldiers with bazookas and bayonets. Ray Lewis, the hard-hitting linebacker of the Baltimore Ravens, has been described as so tough, he eats nails for breakfast. Bill was so tough, he was trained to eat maggots, cockroaches, and just about anything that moved in the desert, ocean, and snake-infested swamps to survive.
Brian Wilson, the eccentric reliever of the San Francisco Giants has been fawned over because he has "the guts of a burglar". How 'bout having the guts of a Navy SEAL like Brian Bill, fighting for your country and your life every single day?
And one of my favorites, when teams face off in Game 7 of the playoffs or championship. "There is no tomorrow", the broadcaster will say. In sports, there always is a tomorrow. Even for guys like Bill Buckner and Jean Van de Velde.
There will not be a tomorrow for Brian Bill, and that is really a sad, sad thing. People will soon forget about Bill because, unfortunately, that's how life works. and move on. But people like Bill, who fought to help our country slow down terrorism while experiencing a great amount of terror himself, Brian Bill should never be forgotten.