by Terri Winder
In an effort to illustrate and clarify the price of freedom, the City of Blanding posthumously honored a fallen warrior—Special Ops Petty Officer 1st Class Jason R Workman—by naming him Blanding’s Independence Day parade marshal this year.
Workman was represented by family members and friends in a large motorcycle entourage.
A Blanding native who became an elite Navy SEAL, Workman lost his life at age 32 in a helicopter crash on August 6, 2011.
Workman was one of 25 members of SEAL Team Six on the flight, which was shot down by insurgents over Taliban controlled territory. The crash killed 38 servicemen altogether. It remains the deadliest day for U.S. forces in the ongoing Afghanistan War, Operation Enduring Freedom.
At the Mayor’s Patriotic Program, Rodney Workman, Jason’s father, told the audience that “‘Freedom is Forever’ only as long as we have brave young men and women who are willing to fight and sacrifice for this freedom that we enjoy every day.”
He said his father was a Marine Raider in World War II and fought in the South Pacific. His father-in-law, Betty Lou’s father, was a Navy Corpsman on a ship in the Pacific during the war.
Workman said, “Neither of our parents talked much about the conflicts they were engaged in, but they did teach us that the cost for the way of life that we were enjoying was due to the sacrifice of millions of American men and women. We were always aware that ‘all gave some and some gave all.’
“Freedom is not free and it comes at a very painful price. Our family, and the Winders, the Keiths, and the Thobe family – and many other families in San Juan County – have had to pay the ultimate sacrifice over the years.
I know these families would give anything to have their loved ones back, but they also know that their loved ones died doing what they knew was right and would do it again to protect the freedoms that all of us enjoy.
“We have thousands of men and women who join the Armed Services every day and take a pledge to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America. These young people do this willingly and they know the risks they are taking…they know at the time they are sworn in that they have committed to give their life, if necessary, in defense of our freedoms.
“All men and women who serve deserve our respect and admiration for the service they have and are rendering for us here at home.”
Workman reminded the audience that “Freedom is Forever” only “as long as we are willing to do our part to protect our Constitution.”
He quoted Edmund Burke, “‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”’ And then he added, “I pray that this nation will always have the courage to stand up and fight for these freedoms. I know that San Juan County will always be at the forefront with young men and women willing to give the ultimate sacrifice.”
Workman read a letter written by another Navy SEAL who died alongside Jason, named Heath Michael Robinson. Workman said, “I know this is how Jason felt, and all of the guys with him.”
Robinson wrote his parents: “If you are reading this, things didn’t work out the way I planned. I’m typing this up because I’m too lazy to write it out by hand and that way I can change it when I need to. Where to start…
“Okay, my life was short but a great one! If I died doing something with the Team then I died doing the greatest job and working with the most talented, hardworking, and the greatest group of warriors ever to walk the earth.
“I’ve made more memories and had greater experiences than ten normal people put together. Most people get to choose how they live, but not how they die, and I consider myself blessed for that.
“So…DO NOT feel sorry for me; I made this choice consciously. I wouldn’t trade it for anything, and would do it again in a second, no matter what the circumstances. ‘It’s better to die on your feet than live on your knees.’
“I’ve tried to embrace that idea and fought for what I believed in: my country, my family, and mostly for the brotherhood of men who fought alongside me. So, take a minute, be sad, move on, and have a drink for me. Be happy and try to remember the good times, you can’t change it either way, so you might as well enjoy it. -HMR”
Workman concluded by saying, “Jason was always telling me that the most dangerous part of every mission they went on was the time they spent flying on the helicopter. He couldn’t have been more right, but I know that he and the other guys that night would do it all over again. We never forget Jason and we are so very, very proud of the man he grew up to be. Part of the man he was is because of the people and the spirit found in Blanding and all of San Juan County.”