In Memory of Michael L. Roder lost to Agent Orange 2012.
In Memory of Michael L. Roder; August 8, 1951 – Feb. 19, 2012
Where does a daughter begin to tell a story of her hero? How do I put into words how much my daddy was a huge influence to not just my life but my sister’s, my children’s and all that loved him. How do I do justice in describing a man who was such a leader that his friends called him Chief long before he became an E9 Chief Master Sgt in the United States Air force? How do I describe the huge hole in our lives the first man I ever loved has left in his parting? How do I even begin to explain the contrary emotions of having my Dad resting in Arlington National Cemetery? How can anyone but those that have also laid their loved ones to rest in these sacred soils understand the conflict of pride, honor, and mourning?
Michael L. Roder dedicated 23 years to his country as an enlisted Air Force man and reluctantly retired into the life of a civilian. His hard work and dedication with the US Air Force allowed him to be the caretaker of his mother and siblings through his entire life. He was born a Leo and embodied every characteristic of those born under such a strong sign. He was open hearted, enthusiastic about life, charming, generous, STRONG.
He always Aimed High even finally purchased his dream Corvette, his Vette for a Vet, 5 years prior to his death. My dad taught his daughters if we wanted something then we had to work hard for it, and he remained a dedicated and hard worker until the very end. He taught us pride for our country and our Veterans and even worked as a Veteran’s Administrator in his last years.
I am proud of the dedication and hard work it took to my Dad to achieve E9 as a Chief Master Sgt and thankful to an upbringing as an ‘Air-Force Brat’. I was taught diversity, respect, to not ever feel entitled to anything, and to roll with the punches. I am accepting of all differences thanks to my dad’s influences as well as our moving to small towns, or large cites, even different countries.
Desite my pride, love, honor to my Daddy I don’t think I could ever accurately describe the man Mike was to all of us that loved him. He was dedicated to the country until his untimely end. He left, still kicking and fighting, after a short battle with lung cancer that tried to steal everything that made him the man he was including his authoritative and booming voice. Only diagnosed on Nov. 4th 2011 he slipped away February 19th, 2012 but I believe he chose to go and conserve some pride and dignity. He walked away from this life at only 60 years old the day after my 35th birthday and was ironically laid to rest in section 60 of Arlington Cemetery.
My heart shattered the day we laid him to rest in his Air force Blue Coffin ordained with Eagles at each corner. We tried to make things as perfect as we knew he would have done for us, dressing him in the very uniform he slipped off the day of his retirement and inspecting to make sure he was tidy, neat, and straight. Only families of our military men and women will fully understand the stir of emotions from lifetime of memories around these uniforms, and I know one day when we meet again he will greet me healthy and handsome in that very uniform that helped shape him into the excellent man he was.
I don’t think I could ever find the words to accurately sum up the life of my hero nor could I do justice to describe the honorable yet bittersweet feelings we have for him now resting in Arlington National Cemetery but in some way, even after his grandkids depart this world, he’ll never be forgotten.
We might not ever know what he was exposed to during his service in Vietnam era and agent orange is not admitted in his records but dad always said he suspected he was was exposed and we wonder what his father was exposed to as he served in the Army during the Korean War and lost his life to multiple system cancer at the age of 59. My brother was still born from anencephaly, my son has ADHD, my daughter has craniosynostosis so we wonder if Agent orange is to blame.
Thank you for remembering my daddy who is so is missed more than I could ever describe. Melanie Pipkins Cranio Art — with Peggy Roder, Chris Pipkins, Melanie Pipkins Cranio Art and Agent Orange Vietnam Veterans Memorial.