Today is Memorial Day, the one day a year we officially recognize the ultimate sacrifice so many, too many, military men and woman have paid in service to our country. I spent over nine years in the United States Air Force, and in that time, I personally knew only one person who paid that ultimate price.
His name was Sergeant Randy Davis. I served with him at Clark Air Base in the Philippines. We were in the same squadron, the 3rd Component Repair Squadron (3rd CRS). I was in the Electronic Warfare shop, Randy worked in the Egress shop. His was the group responsible for working on and maintaining the Martin-Baker ejection seats found in the F-4 Phantom aircraft. We both worked the flight-line, directly on the aircraft. There was an electronic warfare display screen found in the aft cockpit of the F-4G Wild Weasel that had to be removed when the forward cockpit ejection seat was removed. Because of this fact, I found myself working on the same aircraft as Randy.
The day Randy was killed was October 28, 1987. It was also the last day I ever spoke to him. It was late afternoon, and he had stopped by the snack-bar at the 3rd CRS dormitory to show everyone his airline tickets back to the world. He was scheduled to leave Clark AB for an assignment in the States. I don’t remember when he was scheduled to leave, but it must have been fairly soon because he wouldn’t have been given airline tickets otherwise. Randy was married to a local girl, and they had at least one child. Because of that, he didn’t live in the dorms with us, but instead lived off-base in a rented house.
Getting your airline ticket back to the states was a very big deal when stationed in the Philippines. It was a monumental occasion. Most people stationed in the Philippines looked forward to the day they were able to leave, and Randy was no exception. When Randy showed me his tickets, I’ll never forget what I said to him: I called him a dick. I was laughing when I said it and I’m certain he knew I was happy for him and more than a little envious, but the fact remains that the last thing I ever said to the man was that I thought he was a penis because he was going to leave the Philippines and I wasn’t.
I can’t tell you how often I’ve thought of that day and wished I hadn’t said that to him.
Randy left the snack-bar and headed home. When he stepped off a jeepney, an elongated jeep used as public transportation, three members of the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, approached him from behind and shot him in the head. The three cowards then continued to shoot him as a lay on the ground dead.
Randy wasn’t the only one killed that afternoon. A retired American and an airman were also assassinated that same day. I didn’t know them, but I did know Randy. I also know he didn’t deserve what happened to him. He was a really nice guy with a good heart.
I wish I knew what happened to the communists who murdered Randy. Ronald Reagan, president at the time, did absolutely nothing in response to the attacks, leaving the matter up to the Philippine government, who in turn, also did nothing. Years later, in 2007, members of the NPA were given amnesty by the Philippine government. Of all the things those terrorist scum deserved, amnesty was not one of them.
Though there are people who have a misguided, nostalgic appreciation for all things communist, I’m not one of them. Every time I see some hipster wearing one of those stupid Che Guevara t-shirts, a part of me feels like punching them in the throat. Something tells me that if communists murdered one of their friends, they wouldn’t be wearing a Che Guevara t-shirt.
On this Memorial Day, I’m going to remember the sacrifice of Sergeant Randy Davis, a good man who was killed by cowardly terrorists because of no other reason than the uniform he was wearing. May he rest in peace and his killers rot in Hell.