My generation has lived through at least three major wars. However, this is the first time one has hit so close to home. One of my dearest childhood friends, Chris "Peeley" Neeley (far right in the photo) has been summoned to one year of duty in Afghanistan. Peeley has a wonderful wife and is a father of two as well as a Public Relations expert. He is serving in our National Guard and will be putting his PR skills to work in Afghanistan for 12 months.
I have known Peeley for nearly a quarter of a century. If I were asked to describe him in one word, it would have to be "solid." He has built a wonderful career in Government Relations and has built a solid, happy family. He is also a solid friend, always willing to help a friend or even a total stranger.
From running for Student Council President in middle school, to the Airport High School band, to the Carolina Band to The SC Silver Elephant Club to breakfast this morning at Lizard's Thicket, I have always been able to find new found respect and admiration for my friend Peeley. He is a personal hero of mine and makes me want to be a better man, husband, father, and friend.
In just a few days, he will be serving our nation's interests in Afghanistan, and helping to further democracy in a very troubled country. I can say with conviction, that we who remain here will be safer because of men and women like Peeley.
Peeley, my friend, good luck, Godspeed, and hurry home! I promise you that we will look after your wife and children, and I look forward to many more breakfasts with you and the gang.