The mythic hero is a character that humans have drawn inspiration, courage, determination and hope from for eons. The mythic hero in all great stories engages life in a cyclical process that reveals all those heroic qualities. We get our heroes in stories, our narratives. It is story that gives context to our lives. It is story in which we all live. Heroes all go through a process of transformation. They begin in an initiation stage where courage is revealed and they are challenged in some type of testing, usually in a training environment. They take this initiation out away in sometimes distant lands where their heroic qualities are not just trained up but put into practice. They face harsh difficulties, confronting death and tragedy. Finally the hero returns to his home or loved ones to retell the story of his triumph and his journey. It has been said we don't have heroes anymore. I disagree. I met one this week. I have recently transferred to Civil Affairs and this week I was at a conference for all Unit Ministry Teams (UMT's) within the Civil Affairs/PSY OPs command. For the last 7 years CH (COL) Sam Birky has lead the UMT's of the most deployed and utilized group of soldiers within the entire reserve command. Sam is a legend in the special ops and chaplain communities.

He is a hero in every sense of the word. He'd probably hate to know that I was even writing this, which makes him all the more special. He joined the Navy in 1968 and became a SEAL in the Navy's Special Operations community. He fought in Viet Nam and was awarded more awards than one can count. He left the Navy in 1973 turning down an opportunity for an amazing career as a SEAL instructor.

He bowed his knee to Jesus in the mid 70's and became a different kind of warrior, a warrior priest and in the early 80's became a Chaplain in the Army. He has served in Special Forces for the Army as well as Civil Affairs. He has a commanding presence and a work ethic that is unmatched. He is an encourager and a truth speaker. When you are around him you want to be like him. I think that is a hallmark of a great man, if you find yourself saying, "In 20 years, I want to be like this guy" I found myself saying just that. He'll leave the military this April and for his final act as an Army Chaplain, he is going to jump out of a WW II era aircraft at FT Bragg and then he'll hang his boots up. I'm going to do everything I can to be there. I say all this to let you know that heroes are still with us and we need them. We need to tell their stories. We need to pass these stories on to our kids so they'll hold these same values. It is a society without heroes that is most lost.


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