For those who served in the military, Veterans Day is always a significant yet bittersweet occasion. It provides an opportunity to pay tribute to those who we have lost. For Greyshirt Barry Pemberton, it is yet another occasion to honor his friend Joe Proctor.
Joe had been working for Barry as an aviation fuel specialist in the Indiana Army National Guard for more than a year when he volunteered to deploy to Iraq. Joe was on duty in Iraq when a large truck came barreling down the road toward the compound he was guarding. After firing a warning shot, Joe stood his ground and killed the driver, causing the vehicle to stop just in front of him. The truck, loaded down with explosives, detonated, killing Joe instantly. He was awarded the Silver Star for saving the lives of others in the compound.
Barry remembers him not just every Veterans Day, but year-round. He carries a flag from his own time serving in Iraq in 2009-’10 that bears Joe’s name as well as the names of 21 others from the Indiana Guard who were killed in action in Iraq and Afghanistan. Barry takes this flag with him on every Team Rubicon operation and service project he deploys on to honor them and their sacrifices. For Barry, it is a way to keep them close to the mission and his heart.