Some days are better than others.
Some blessings we don’t always understand until way later in life.
Today I wish to celebrate the life of an old Friend and Mentor.
An old hard nose Marine who took pity on a young Jarhead, fresh out of training and thrown into the flames of combat in a very foreign and dangerous country called Vietnam.
Early in my first tour, I found out I was 19, but unlike the Hank Williams’ song, I wasn’t “bulletproof or invincible.”
John hauled me out of the jungle into a nearby opening where a helicopter picked me up and skirted me off to the nearest field hospital. Drs said if I’d waited 15 more minutes, I’d not made it. Upon release I was returned to my unit for the continuation of my tour, my stupid decision, not the Marine Corps.
I asked my Commander if they knew who had dragged me out of danger and saved my life. He said, “Sure, Son, it was old Wild John, the Grizzly Adams of Vietnam.” Three days later I met my rescuer and he asked did I want to survive or run. I chose survival, and he took me under his wing and taught me everything he knew about jungles and survival.
He is the reason I am here today with my Clan and why we will celebrate him giving me my life and my Clan with his unselfish efforts in a foreign land.
He wished to have a simple family event, and we will abide by his wishes. No honor guard, no uniforms, no parades, no processions. He didn’t like big things, he was a simple, honorable and loving man. He had lost his wife years ago and went into a veterans’ home without letting any of us know until another soul he saved found him by accident.
I had gone on with my life and started my Clan, lost some along the way, started over and lost even more during the restarted years. I learned how to deal with tragedy and loss from John, my mentor. My Sons and I found him and moved him here to Tennessee as soon as the VA would let us do so. I am so proud of my Clan, they welcomed him like a Grandfather, made him part of our Clan without objection, but with open arms all.
We made him a small apartment so he could still feel independent, but never far away from all of us and this houseful of Kiddies who became like puppies following Uncle John all around our property.
This morning after a wonderful weekend, my Nieces came to me in a panic because Uncle John had not come to breakfast, nor had he answered his phone or intercom pages. They wouldn’t listen to any excuse, they wanted to see Uncle John, whether he felt like seeing them or not wasn’t in their minds. I knocked on his door and when there was no response, I opened it with my keys. My Sons came and gathered the Kiddies up and went back to the house.
Uncle John had already answered his last call to Duty.
Semper Fidelis, my dear Friend, Mentor and fellow Marine.
May you be reunited with your wife and Family quickly.
But remember, Paul is a Saint, not a Marine, so he might need your help in guarding lost souls.
Rest in Peace
Hold my place near your side, and let the rest of my already departed Clan know I’m in good hands and doing my best to follow their advice on how to live and love abundantly, while protecting their Kids and Grandkids.
He wasn’t a Saint, but he was a Lifesaver without needing a collar.