Two weeks ago today as my family were asleep I got up early to watch TEAM USA take on the Russians in ice hockey during the Olympics. Due to NBC Sports electing again to show games via delay I knew they were playing 12 hours earlier and got up to watch it in real time.
The first period had just started and I was praying for another MIRACLE ON ICE. As I was on the couch cheering for the red, white and blue my cell rang. As I glanced it read my sister’s cell and I don’t often hear from her first thing on a Saturday morning. I answered and what I heard next was slow motion. She was crying so hard I could not make out our conversation. In between the sobs I asked her to repeat it and when I finally pieced it together it was surreal.
The big game I was watching seemed so small and now I was pulling for TEAM USA like never before. Aaron Torian may not be familiar to you but he is family to us. I met him a quarter of a century ago and he is my brother in law’s best friend and my nephew’s godfather. Aaron was in the United States Marines Corps and he did not one, two, three, four or five but SIX tours overseas fighting for freedom. He was named “MARINE OF THE YEAR” two years before and was Special Ops making him the best of the best.
My sister relayed to me that Aaron’s wife had just got word that he hours before while in Afghanistan was hit by an IED and blew off both of his legs. My sister was asking me to pray to God and thay he would be ok. They were trying to stabalize his body and were en route to take him to Germany. We began to pray and call friends across America to intercede and the Olympics were such a blur on the big screen.
Immediately, my mind raced to when we first met. Aaron was a gifted athlete and larger than life. The only thing bigger than his muscles were his heart and smile. When he walked in the room you sensed someone special was “in the house.” He loved family, friends and possessed great faith in God and loved our country. He saw his service as a calling and he answered.
Three hours later my sister informed me that MSgt Aaron Torian didn’t survive and they were making plans to fly his remains to Dover, DE and my sister and her husband were going to be there personally with Aaron’s wife to receive his body back on USA soil. The military calls it a ‘dignified transfer.’ When the plane landed at Dover AFB they slowly, delicately and reverently pulled out his American Flag drapped casket as soliders and generals saluted while his wife and our family with blurry vision welcomed home not only a hero but a dear friend.
The next day, I was honored to be a guest on “HANNITY” in the Fox News studio in New York City and the invite to appear had come in three weeks before. The next day, I flew to Houston, TX to speak three days in a row in the Lone Star State and after flying home to Baltimore, MD late on Tuesday evening it was my privilege to be with the family as Aaron was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.
He was a hero in every sense of the word and generals to janitors came to pay their respect. At the reception a familiar face walked in and it was none other than Lt. Col Oliver North and he spoke at the funeral. When a hero calls you a hero it is evident you are a hero. “Ollie” is also a FOX NEWS contributor and twice he returned to Afghanistan with the Fox film crew and who served as his guard and body man was none other than “Marine of the Year” and our very own, “T” short for MSgt Aaron Torian. My Dad had met Colonel North over two decades ago on Capitol Hill and it was good for them to reunite. I shard with Colonel North a quote from President Ronald Reagan, “Millions wake up every single day wondering if they make a difference, the Marines don’t have that problem.” Lord knows Aaron made a HUGE difference.
Please pray for Aaron’s family as he lives behind a wife and three small children. No, FREEdom is not free and all gave some but some gave all. Two weeks ago today, I was pulling for TEAM USA and now in more ways than one. I am convinced they beat the Russians that day in the preleminary game and won for Aaron. The real heroes in life don’t wear capes nor memorialized in halls of fame but folks like Aaron whom stare fear in the face and smile even in death. We lost one of the greats and God bless Aaron, his family and these United States of America. We are all better because of his sacrifice. Thanks to God’s grace we both serve in His Army and see you again soon my friend. #SemperFi