Office Politics, Lisa & the Lieutenant

Lisa Summers is in her office late one morning, when an Army officer using a cane appears at the door and knocks. “Ms. Summers?”

She rises to greet him. “Yes. What can I do for you, Lieutenant?” She glances at his name tag. “Bevels.” The name registers with her. “You were Calvin’s commanding officer in Afghanistan. He mentioned you in his emails or whenever we talked.”

“I was. Sergeant Summers was an excellent soldier. I was hoping I could have a few minutes of your time.”

“Please, come in, have a seat.” He sits in front of her desk and she moves to the seat beside him. “What brings you here to see me?”

“I’m here for Bickering’s veterans ceremony and thought I’d look in on you while I was here.” He leans in and says, confidentially, “Truth be known, the only reason I’m here was because I was hoping to see you.”

“I’m honored. What can I do for you?”

“I’m hoping I can do something for you. You probably have some questions about the incident where Calvin lost his life and if so, I’m prepared to answer them, as much as I can, that is.”

“Of course.”

“I’m sorry I haven’t been here sooner, but I was severely injured in the attack and it’s been a long recovery process for me.”

“I can imagine. Frankly, I’m not sure where to start. I received a heavily redacted copy of the official report. The information was very confusing.”

“They don’t always give a complete accounting even when half of it isn’t blacked out. I recall comparing notes with Sergeant Summers during some of our downtime around the base. He mentioned he’d served in the Gulf in 1991.”

“Calvin went in the Army right out of high school in ‘89. He took advantage of the educational benefits and was in the reserves and was recalled for duty after 9/11. We had only been married a little over a year and it was just after he left that I found out Jarod was on the way.”

“He sure did talk about you a lot. I could tell he was anxious to get back and be with you and your son.”

“You said you wanted to share what happened. I’ve always wondered if I’d really want to know but, I would like to be able to answer any questions Jarod might have.”

“I totally understand. It’s not a very pleasant story.”

“No, I would think not. I’m prepared to hear whatever you can tell me.”

He nods. “Several units came under fire that afternoon. Our position was the hardest hit by the first strike. Sergeant Summers was leading the evacuation in my place after dragging me to safety. He went back in just as the second strike hit.”

“Fire and brimstone, Calvin always called it.”

“It wasn’t god raining down fire and brimstone on us. It was the US Military. What they rather quaintly refer to as friendly fire.”

“I can’t even imagine how horrifying it must have been.”

“I’ve never been very religious, so I didn’t believe in Hell, until I experienced it firsthand. I finally understand the phrase ‘Hell is other people’. At least, it was that afternoon. But, I also learned there are quite a few angels among us as well. Sergeant Summers — Calvin — saved my life and others, but at the cost of his own.”

“Calvin was very proud of his service. He also told me he was honored to serve with you.”

“Being able to rely on soldiers like Calvin made my job much easier. We lost a lot of good people that afternoon and my sincere regret is that I couldn’t do anything to prevent it.”

“Lieutenant, I don’t hold you in any way responsible for what happened out there.”

“I realize that and I know there’s nothing I could have done but it’s hard not to feel some sense of responsibility when you lose those who’ve relied upon you.”

“Calvin had nothing but the utmost respect for your leadership. He told me once that he’d follow you into the worst fighting because he trusted you to make the right call on their behalf.”

“Maybe more praise than I deserve, but it’s appreciated all the same.”

“Could I ask a favor of you?”

“You certainly can.”

“He’s a little too young to understand it all now, but when Jarod’s a little older, would you be interested in talking to him about serving with Calvin? He has no memory of his father and I’d like to help him understand the type of person Calvin was.”

“I would be my honor to do that. I’ll give you my contact info and you just let me know when.”

“Have you had lunch? We have a great cafeteria downstairs and I’d love the opportunity to find out more about your service with Calvin.”

“I haven’t eaten yet. I’d be more than happy to talk with you about that. And, please, call me Kenny.”

“Then lunch is on me, Kenny.”

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