Memorial Day in our home this year will be spent quietly, Jake and I have no real plans, and the kids don’t have school. However, very close to my heart and in my thoughts will be a few special people I had the honor and privilege to know. While I do not discount the countless other families who were affected by conflict and war, by the loss of a child, a husband, a father, a brother, a sister, a mother, a wife – these two individuals are close to my heart.
Frank (Capt. “Puj” Hooks) – a pilot in our squadron in South Carolina that made the ultimate sacrifice in June 2004. I have a hard time this year grasping that it has been almost 14 years. His loss deeply impacted all the Marines of 115. My best memory of Frank was the DVD that I unexpectedly got in the mail one day during the first deployment Matt (my ex husband) went on. They had made us a “we are halfway home” DVD full of photos of all the guys from the squadron. It was a silly DVD, but so special to all the spouses. Frank was married to my sweet friend Cindy. I still have that DVD, tucked away in a drawer. I was able to upload it to YouTube a few years ago to share it with everyone we were with at 115. If you have about 5 minutes, you can see that video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xce7865aKeY
Second is Clarence Adams. Clarence was 3 years ahead of me in school (me a freshman, he a senior) when I decided to run indoor track. He then decided to take me under his wing and teach me to throw shot put. So, he taught me and I did it. I wasn’t that good, and didn’t stick with it, but he was always encouraging. He always had a smile on his face, and was loved by so many at Varina. Clarence died in Baghdad, Iraq in September 2004. He was the father of six, and devoted husband. The school still paints a rock with your number on it before every football season, and the team is always reminded of all you did.
Also on this Memorial day, please remember those whose battle was lost when they returned home. An average of 22 U.S. Veterans commit suicide everyday. Fighting the demons that battle them here at home is sometimes harder than the battles they face while deployed. 22 a day is too many, and it has to stop.
While for many it’s a day of picnics, BBQ’s and the unofficial start of summer, it is also a VERY real holiday to remember those who have fought and died for us to have the ability to go to the river or beach, watch a parade in peace and have a picnic. Please take a moment today, say their names and remember them, their families and their sacrifice.
To Richie – I’m sorry I couldn’t save you from the demons that ravaged you. I wanted to so badly, I thought I could, and I couldn’t – none of us could. I sometimes laugh to myself remembering late night phone calls, and the story of “what would everyone at 115 think of us now?” Oh how I wish you were here now, to laugh with us – to do stupid things on the beach with all the boys at the last 115 reunion. You would have loved it so much. To run around the yard with everyones kids, to laugh at how ordies always fault with air frames – and your constant reminder of “IYAOYAS”. To work on my car when something goes wrong and me fussing at you over you driving that old truck from Beaufort to Lexington late at night. I know that you are in a better place, but it doesn’t make it any easier on my heart knowing that you aren’t here with us anymore. I love you crazy, always have, always will. #22adayistoomany #untilValhalla #22toomany