A Walk of Honor to Arlington National Cemetery

This past weekend  The Brian Bill Foundation team rucked The 31 Miles for 31 Heroes ruck beginning at 8 PM on Saturday at the Lincoln Memorial, up and down through Georgetown, past The Capital Building and ending on Sunday morning at Arlington National Cemetery.  The 31 Miles that we walked with heavy backpacks was one mile for each of the thirty men and one military dog who lost their lives on August 6, 2011.   Every four to six miles we stopped for a rest and a few of the biographies of the men who lost their lives on Extortion 17 were read.  On Sunday we walked into Arlington National Cemetery and went to where the thirteen Navy SEALS are buried all in a row and an Extortion 17 marker. The honor that these wonderful men bring to themselves, their families and our country will never fade.

Below is a column that sports writer Paul Devlin wrote about Brian and published on August 6, 2018.

This will give you some insight to Brian and who he was.   

August 6, 2011. It's the anniversary of one the most tragic days in U.S Military history. 17 Navy SEALS were killed in action - together. Brian Bill was one of them. An amazing person and true American hero - I had to pay my respects to him at Arlington National Cemetery.


bb blog 1Arlington National Cemetery can overpower you.

It moves you in a way you never thought possible.

400,000 white marble headstones on 624 plush green acres will humble you, take your breath away, and make you seem as small as the blade of grass that nestles up to a marker letting you know someone far bigger than you can ever hope to be, made the ultimate sacrifice for
the country.

While on assignment interviewing professional athletes Washington, D.C. in June,  I was drawn to Arlington National Cemetery. I needed to walk the sacred grounds where nearly every soldier who lost their life in our nation's conflicts, starting with the Civil War, is buried.

But of the more than 400,000 soldiers laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery, there was one I just had to visit, no matter what.

Brian Bill.

Bill died on August 6, 2011 while fighting in Afghanistan. Riding in a Chinook helicopter, Bill and 16 of his brothers on SEAL Team Six were brought down by a rocket-propelled grenade fired by the Taliban. In all, 30 Americans lost their lives - the largest loss of life by the U.S. in the Afghan War. It's forever known as Extortion 17.

bb blog 3Bill was from Stamford, Connecticut, the town bordering the one I spent most of my high school years. He was just 31-years-old. I was working at a local station at the time and when I saw where Bill was from, I wanted to know everything I could about him. And the more I learned about him, the more I realized what a real genuine hero the guy is. Not was. Is.

There is no better proof of this than the actions that earned him the third of his four Bronze Star Medals with Valor. I read this during a fundraising event for Bill last June and quite honestly, my jaw dropped.

From the U.S. Department of Defense:

While performing in Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, Bill was part of a ground force element during a daring nighttime raid against a heavily armed enemy commander. While attempting to engage a barricaded fighter hidden inside the target building, one of his teammates was struck and mortally wounded by enemy fire, causing him to fall directly in front of the barricaded enemy's position.

With complete disregard for his own safety, Bill fought his way into the compound, exchanging fire with the enemy fighter while maneuvering to his wounded teammate. Within point blank range of the barricaded enemy, Bill pulled his comrade from the precarious position where he had fallen as enemy rounds impacted the rock wall around him. He then courageously exposed himself to the enemy fire again, as he pulled his wounded teammate across the open courtyard to a position behind cover.

By his extraordinary guidance, zealous initiative, and total dedication 
to duty,  Bill reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

Simply amazing.

I have written several articles about Brian Bill and met his incredible family - and if you've had the opportunity to meet the family you'd probably say "incredible" doesn't do them justice.

They are amazing people - just as Brian was. I've tried to do my best to honor his sacrifice and fearless commitment to our country with my words and incredible respect for him. I hold Brian in higher regard than any professional athlete I've ever met or profiled.

bb blog 2

However, during that sweltering day in June, I felt the need to pay my respects to him in the Arlington National Cemetery.  I went to the information center and typed the name of Brian Bill into a computer.

Section 60 Site 9930

That is where the body of Brian Bill, American hero, rests.

No words were spoken between me and my photographer who was on assignment with me. After I softly uttered, "Section 60 Site 9930" we were muted by the sight of all those headstones that dominated the land in front of us.

bb blog 4

I was in awe of all the soldiers who gave so much to our country. I was once again in awe of Brian Bill when I came upon his headstone in Arlington National Cemetery. My spine started to tingle and goose bumps raised quickly across both of my arms. Breathless.

I paid my respects, thanked him for his service, and let him know I had met his wonderful family. Brian Bill will always be an American hero. He should never be forgotten. Ever.

And if you ever get to Washington, D.C., make sure to visit Arlington National Cemetery. It is powerful. It is humbling. And it will make you really appreciate what self-sacrifice is all about.

Posted by Paul Devlin at 7:00 PM

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