I hope y’all remember the 2000 movie “Men of Honor” with Cuba Gooding Jr. and Robert De Niro. It was the true story of the US Navy’s first black salvage diver, Carl Brashear, who went onto be become a Navy Master Chief Petty Officer. Master Chief Brashear died in 2006, at the age of 75. He was born the same year as my Mom, 1931.
My missive today is about the acronym “ASNF” that, if you recall the movie, was carved into Brashear’s makeshift radio while he was attending dive school. The acronym stands for “A Son Never Forgets.”
Therefore, on this Memorial Day, this son, an American Combat Soldier, just wants to never forget his dad, an American Combat Soldier, US Army Corporal Herman West, Sr.
My Dad was born in January 1920 in Ozark, Alabama but jumped the Chattahoochee river and grew up in Cuthbert (Randolph County), Georgia. He was a simple, quiet man, but truly a man of honor, integrity, and character. His nickname was Buck.
I was so proud to be called “Buck’s Boy” because I looked up to this resolute and highly principled man who had gone off to fight for his country at a time when his country did not fight for him. It was on the steps of the house he bought, which he would later pay off, that he would say to me those memorable words when I was fifteen. “Boy, there is no greater honor than wearing the uniform of this nation. In the Army you can rise because of your own efforts and abilities. But, I want you to be the first officer in our family.”
My older brother, Herman West, Jr., was a US Marine Corps Lance Corporal, combat infantryman, wounded at Khe Sanh.
So it was, the challenge has been paid down, and I began my quest starting in HSJROTC at Atlanta’s Henry Grady HS. I then went onto Army ROTC at the University of Tennessee, and on July 31, 1982, ol’ Buck West got his wish: a son as an Army officer. I will never forget Buck West, as that was the last promotion he would see. I was promoted to First Lieutenant in Vicenza, Italy, and Dad died in the spring of 1986.
Corporal Herman West, Sr. is buried in the Garden of Stone in Marietta (Georgia) National Cemetery, along with his Battle Buddy, my mom, Elizabeth “Snooks” West. On this Memorial Day, I pray that someone will find the time to stand before my dad’s final resting place and give him a salute for me . . .
Because “A Son Never Forgets.” Honor Memorial Day, Dad!
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During his 22 year career in the United States Army, Lieutenant Colonel West served in several combat zones and received many honors including a Bronze Star, three Meritorious Service Medals, three Army Commendation Medals, one with Valor device, and a Valorous Unit Award.
In November of 2010, Allen was elected to the United States Congress, representing Florida’s 22nd District.
West is a commissioned officer in the Texas State Guard. He’s Fox News Contributor, former Director of the Booker T. Washington Initiative at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Senior Fellow at the Media Research Center, contributing columnist for Townhall.com, and author of Guardian of the Republic: An American Ronin’s Journey to Family, Faith and Freedom, and, Hold Texas, Hold the Nation: Victory or Death, and the forthcoming We Can Overcome.