November 6, 2021 — Retired U.S. Army Major Charlie Buntin joined the Army at 17. He served distinctly with the 1st Infantry, the 101st Airborne Division, and the 1st Cavalry Division as an engineer during his 22-year career.
Like all veterans, he has lost friends and team members, experienced the bad days, guilt, the pride he has and respect he deserves.
He often speaks of his friend and brother-in-arms, Master Sergeant Anthony Davis who was part of a military transition team helping train Iraqi battalion-level teams. Master Sergeant Davis was part of an infantry operations engagement mission, dropping toys and school supplies to kids in the local area.
According to Major Buntin, these transition teams were part of “heart and mind operations” where Iraqi soldiers are trained to have positive interaction and support with the locals, with a minimal U.S. presence.
“The point, too, was to give credit to the Iraqi soldiers.” For this reason, Buntin’s operational team was not present the day the toys were being delivered.
“One of the Iraqi soldiers was actually an Al-Qaeda member at the time. As the drop off of supplies was occurring, the Iraqi soldier aimed his rifle at the Commanding Officer. Master Sergeant Davis saw the rifle, jumped in front of him and took a bullet to the chest, killing him,” Major Buntin explained.
“This was Davis’ last deployment. He already had filed his retirement paperwork but pulled it just to go on this mission. Because of the low-level U.S. presence, I wasn’t there to act in my protective role which naturally leaves you with guilt,” he said.
It is this story and many others that need to be shared and honored, as Buntin does every day in one form or another. As co-owner of Cigars On The Boulevard in Apollo Beach, FL, he brings a lot of energy and effort into supporting the community, businesses and people.
One venue he uses daily for this is a Facebook live broadcast, “We Drink, We Smoke, We Talk,” where he features local businesses, events, interviews, humor and “tangents” as he likes to say. One recent tangent was about his viewpoint on thanking a veteran.
“Don’t haphazardly thank someone for their service. That doesn’t mean anything. When you sit down and say…
‘How are you doing today sir? I see you’re wearing an Army hat. What did you do in the Army?’
‘I was an engineer officer.’
‘Interesting, well, thank you for your service as an engineer officer.’
“That actually means something to me because you took two seconds to get to know who I am. Just saying thank you for your service and going about your day is just patting yourself on the back. I don’t want to seem unappreciative for someone thanking me for my service, but it is so much more genuine when someone asks a bit about how you served and what you did. It makes me more appreciative of the thank you.”
Major Buntin continued, “I don’t need you to know in-depth everything I went through, every friend I’ve lost, or every bad day I’ve had but just saying something like, “Hey, you were in the Army…that’s really cool…thank you for your service.”
“At that point, that means something because you honestly took a moment to actually get to know me a little bit better.”
Check out Charlie’s “We Drink, We Smoke, We Talk,” on FaceBook under Cigars On The Boulevard for updates on Veterans’ Day events, interesting cigar chat and a lot of community support. Email: Charlie@cigarsotb.com