“You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honor.” ~ Aristotle
Courage and Honor…
When we think of all the men and women who died for our freedom… who gave their very being for our right to live a good and honorable life… we recognize that it is our responsibility — indeed, our duty — to not just remember their service, but to live our lives as a testament to their sacrifice, courage and honor.
In August, we celebrated our 50th high school reunion.
While joyous, it was also sad for me.
Absent from this celebration was my dear friend Kenny Svanoe who gave his life in South Vietnam on June 2, 1969, when the plane he was piloting was shot down.
No question, 24 is way too young to die.
Our friend, Bob Sage, said it best:
“You may be gone, no longer living on this earth, but you will live on — in the memories of your family and friends. There will always be a part of you living in me, your brother, sisters and those who knew you and loved you. You will live on because we remember you!”
I often wonder why he was chosen to leave the earth so soon.
He did love to fly. He did earn his wings.
He wanted to fly so high he could touch the hem of God.
Maybe it’s as simple as that. He got his wish.
Kenny was the best of the best, not just good at whatever he touched, he was GREAT. He was smart, strong, fun to be around and an inspiration to everyone he met.
Why him, not me is a thought that haunts me to this day. He was better at everything, yet here I am.
Maybe it was God’s plan that those of us left behind would recognize that we have lost a true Champion and that it is up to us to pick up the slack. To do everything Kenny would have done, had he been here to do it.
No one can answer the question, except God himself.
When I meet Kenny the next time, I am sure he will greet me with that sly smile he always sported, and say, “It’s about time you got here! You lived a truly blessed life, Eric.”
“I was proud to be your Guardian, Angel.”
All I can say is thank you, Kenny. I know that you personally died for me.
It has been my honor attempting to stand in for you all these years.
Eric Richard Haas, CEO
Killed In Action 2 June 1969
First Lieutenant Kennard Errol Svanoe was from Fremont, Ohio and born on 29 March 1945. He was 24 and single when he died. He was a Covey Forward Air Controller assigned to the 20th Tactical Air Support Squadron at Da Nang. He was further assigned to Chu Lai at LZ Bayonet. He was flying O-2A S/N 67-21319 with Captain Jackie L. Dickens when it was shot down 20 miles northwest of Da Nang in Thua Thien Province South Vietnam. They were supporting the 101st Airborne Division. Lt. Svanoe had 1 year of service and served 49 days in combat. His body was recovered and his name is located at 23W 048 on the Vietnam Memorial.