05292015-memorialsMy Mom was crying…

Dad was also home. He was supposed to be at work. He wasn’t cracking any jokes.

Grandpa and Grandma lived across the street from us. They were also sitting there; Grandma had been crying, but was busy fussing around the room getting coffee and snacks…just staying busy.

Something was wrong; very wrong.

I was halfway through eighth grade, and the reality of the world was about to hit me between the eyes.

My cousin from Omaha, Donald Steven Waite, had been killed while serving in Vietnam. He had been in-country less than two months. His father, Jerry, was my Dad’s first cousin. They were very good friends. We went to visit them in Omaha often. Dad and Jerry were very skilled at pushing each other’s buttons and then laughing about whatever was going on. After “Donnie” died, Jerry did not laugh nearly as much. It changed him.

One year later, reality hit our small Nebraska town. John Dale Bring had been our high school quarterback, graduated, and enlisted in the Marines. In August of 1969, he was killed in action in Vietnam. I was going to be a freshman in high school in a few short weeks. Football practice was going to start.

Both of these young men were only 19 years old when they made the ultimate sacrifice.

The dictionary defines a memorial as, “something, especially a structure, established to remind people of a person or event.”

In our country we build memorials to honor significant people and events that impact our lives and country.

By my sophomore year in high school football we were practicing and playing on John Bring Memorial Field. There was a lighted sign at the park making sure everyone knew this. It was an ongoing reminder of his sacrifice.

In the years since those volatile times for our country, I have had several opportunities to visit Washington, D.C., and view the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. The reality of seeing over 58,000 casualties listed on this wall was always a sobering and humbling experience. It immediately refreshes memories of those tumultuous times in our country…and in my little Nebraska town.

Many of the critical infrastructure facilities we have the privilege to design will last for many decades. Although their importance does not rise to nearly the same level as a sacrificed life, they do serve as a reminder that what we do, and how we do it, is important. A robust electrical system also benefits the lives of those that live in this great country, a country that enjoys freedoms that were won by the sacrifices of so many during our history.

In closing, I want to honor the two soldiers mentioned previously by simply showing the details of their lives and sacrifice, as memorialized on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall.

SP4 – E4 – Army – Selective Service
101st Airborne Division
Length of service 0 years
His tour began on Dec 13, 1967
Casualty was on Feb 9, 1968
Body was recovered
Panel 38E – Line 62


LCPL – E3 – Marine Corps – Regular

Length of service 1 years
His tour began on Feb 25, 1969
Casualty was on Aug 9, 1969
Body was recovered
Panel 20W – Line 117

Washington, USA - July 15, 2010: Names of Vietnam war casualties on Vietnam War Veterans Memorial in Washington DC, USA. Names in chronological order,from first casualty in 1959 to last in 1975. People visit the memorial.

About the author

Marlon is our account executive in the Power market. He has more than 35 years of experience with all aspects of planning, design and construction of 12.5 kV-345 kV distribution and transmission systems, including right-of-way, design, regulatory coordination, public information meetings, public testimony and project management. With an extensive background in power transmission and distribution, Marlon brings a wide variety of knowledge in discussing the energy industry and the issues it faces. From education of future engineers to critical infrastructure analysis, he offers a unique perspective on the industry and where it's headed.