Last Friday, 2 October 2009, my family and I traveled to Arlington National Cemetery for the funeral of my friend of nearly twenty years, MSG Wade M. Gaile (USA). Wade and I met in 1990 when we were both students at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, CA taking the Chinese-Mandarin basic course. We met again in 1991 when we were stationed in the same platoon in B Co, 14th MI BN, Fort Lewis, WA. We became good friends there as we underwent, what another friend of mine jokingly called, the "brotherhood of suffering". Later Wade and I were both assigned to the NSA at Fort Meade, MD and were blessed to enjoy a 6-week language immersion trip to Beijing, China. Some of my fondest memories in my life (other than my wife and children)were the wild times Wade and I had in China. We had suits custom made there, which I wore to his funeral. We had a snake dinner during which we choked down glasses of chinese liquor (baijiu) mixed with snake blood and snake gall bladder. After that of course we consumed many bottles of cheap Chinese beer to get rid of the taste.
I never cried for my parents or my grandmother or some of the other friends I've lost; but when my good friend Wade, who died of a heartattack at age 48 after 20 years of active duty and leaving 2 teenage children and a grieving wife, left this world, I cried like a baby. Whether or not they ever saw combat, there's a brotherhood among military members that civilians will never know. God watch over you Wade, I'll miss you!