Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Master Sergeant David L. Hurt

My first impression of Sergeant Hurt was, well, less than impressive. He came across as a little clumsy, a little irreverent, and more than a little egotistical. And, you know what? He was all of those things.

I was, at the time, a brand new paratrooper, having been in the Army barely six months. David Hurt was the first team leader I ever had.

I didn't like my squad leader. He was one of those wannabe hard-core kinda guys... tough on his newbies for toughness sake. Not that the man was a bad squad leader, just that he wasn't the right squad leader for me. As the new kid, already running around like a chicken with no head, it's safe to state that my squad leader didn't increase my love for the Army very much.

Strangely, though, or perhaps not, Sergeant Hurt seemed to recognize the situation. There I was, this young brat, already on the path to hating the Army. So Hurt did what all of the best NCOs did... he opened up and offered a small token of kindness. And it was enough. Even though he was not the only reason, nor even one of the primary reasons, for my eventual nine years of service, he was among the first, if not the first, to show me that life in the Army could be a warm and fulfilling experience.

He often did things that we made fun of... silly things, out of place or otherwise inappropriate to the situation... but he was never fazed. Little seemed to truly bother this friendly, oddly compassionate teddy-bear of a man.

Of course, as his subsequent Special Forces career would prove, he was out of place among us. He always had his eye on the next step and, unlike many in the Army, he took it. A teddy-bear, yes... I'll stand by that description... but a teddy-bear with a set of teeth that he bared as a Green Beret for almost a decade.

I last saw Hurt in 2000, shortly after he graduated from the Special Forces Qualification Course, and I can't claim to have known him well, but I did know him, and I did know the essence of him. He was well-liked by most. As I called many of his former soldiers, their reactions were testament to that. Several, I could tell, were trying not to cry...

David Hurt died on February 20, 2009, in a faraway land, away from his wife, daughter, and son... He died living up to mottos he lived and fought by...

De Oppresso Liber, Essayons and This We'll Defend.

Words you've earned, MSG Hurt.

You'll be missed.