A Marine Passes
At 1:58 am on 15 May, 2017 an American Marine passed on. To some that man was and will always be, more than a Marine.
Being a United States Marine didn’t define what the man was. Being a Marine was a part of what made up the whole man.
The man had a tough go before the irony that is the illness that eventually took his life got him. Irony in abundance. He fought the good fight with dignity and grace. Never gave up. I’m sure he thought of it as we all would in that situation. He carried on out of a love of life and family. The duty he believed was owed to himself and his family.
No one would have faulted him had he chose to move along to the next plain of his own volition. He endured that much. He cared that much to soldier on.
This man was given the last rites in Vietnam. He was subjected to derision at the very least for having gone to Vietnam when he returned home. He came home with issues and worked on those issues.
Much later on in life, he was stricken with cancer and the belief is that “Agent Orange” was the culprit. There’s your irony. It took his own country to do what the enemy couldn’t.
A number of years ago that man and I were out somewhere when I was down in Rhode Island working out some of my own issues. I do remember it was winter and damn cold.
We were walking up to the door after getting home and I asked him, “Knowing what you know, would you do it again”. This is one of those you had to be there moments. The man knew my question didn’t come out of anything but interest in how he felt and what he thought.
“Knowing what you know, would you do it again” and the reply was, “My country called”.
Not another word was spoken between us. We both knew and understood what was in the answer.
Three words made up a “you had to be there” moment. I cannot convey everything that was in those three words. You had to see the man when he said, “My country called”. I could tell you about it so you could see and understand. I can’t write what I saw that day because no amount of words is going to be able to describe that moment properly.
I spoke of that moment a couple times with people in conversation because it fit with what we were talking about. I never told anyone about this encounter that is close to the man. The conversation was between him and me and except for those few instances, that is where it stayed.
Toughest man I ever knew. One of the best men I’ve ever known too.
Semper Fi, definitely. Character, absolutely.
Francis “Frank” Connors is survived by my cousin Karen, son Eli, daughters Shannon, Sandra and Michelle. Grandchildren, more family, others who love him and by what is now, a grateful nation.
Gary Hambley, May 15, 2017