MIL A decent story

Discussion in 'On Topic' started by darnit, Aug 5, 2006.

  1. darnit

    darnit New Member

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    I am a firm believer in the goodness of mankind. While we all strive to learn valuable life lesson, if not to lessen our difficulties, to at least share that knowledge with others so that if they may travel paths like our own, they would have an easier time of it than what we did. Recently I had a very valuable experience, a real eye opener, and wanted to share what I know with all that I can.

    I am currently stationed naval Air Engineering station (NAES) Lakehurst, NJ, serving the final years of a 20 year tour. This base has been assigned to become part of a larger base in accordance with a Tri base merger with the Air Force and the Army. It was due to this merger that I became aware of a small part of history that has had a deeply profound effect on my life.

    For the time I have been here at NAES, I knew some of the base history; this is where the Hindenburg crashed, it was at one time a weapon testing base, and a lot more odds and ends. Though there is a lot of history associated with this base, all of it seemed distant to me as it was all "before my time".

    Across the street from the building I work in, the base had geographical bachelors' quarters, building 481; which over the years I have been here I wasn't even aware it had a name, "Casey Hall". When the base announced that it was going to be torn down do to the high cost of upkeep, it didn't affect me one way or the other. My Chief was temporarily staying there and asked me what I knew about the building, when I told him "nothing", he then handed me some pages with some information about that particular building. I sat down and started reading, while I did, my eyes got wider and my focus shifted more intently to the words in front of me.

    Here was a story of a young man, a Hospital Corpsman that gave his life so that others may live. As I read through it words and phrases seemed to jump out and stick in my mind.

    "Although wounded himself, he disregarded his own injury as he proceeded to another casualty to render medical treatment." , "Wounded again" , "refused to leave the battle area", "Upon hearing a wounded Marine call for aid, Petty Officer Casey dauntlessly crawled to the man and, while treating his injuries, was mortally wounded. "

    I stared at the words in disbelief. Across the street from was a building dedicated to the memory of a fallen Corpsman; I could even look out the window and see it. My first thought was to ask, how many others didn't know about it's history; my second was a promises to myself to find out more about it.

    Chief interrupted my train of thoughts with an idea; how about we try and contact Robert Casey's family and present them the items from the building. It was then he pointed to a big portrait and a brass plaque that could have used a little TLC. As I stood up to take a closer look I noticed a small frame leaning against the portrait.
    Still to shocked to reply, I grabbed the small picture frame. There was a hand written letter inside and I squinted to read as it had faded a little.

    It was a letter from a family of a Marine, the one HM3 Casey tried to save before he died. This short handwritten letter had a note of sadness as the Marine had died, but you could feel the warm as well, telling the Casey family thanks for the effort of Robert. I had no hesitation when I asked the Chief if I could take charge of this.

    I spent the next couple of months on the phone, sending email and slowly but inevitably becoming involved on a level I had not expected. I had gotten a hold of HM3 Casey's sister, Mary Cate, and we started to work out the details of a gathering. As we tossed dates back and forth, I started to learn much more about Doc Casey. I remember her telling me later on as I referred to him as Robert, that no one called him Robert, it was "Bobby". This path was only started, I began started reading other stories about not only HM3 Casey, but others that had sacrificed as well. I called countless vets, trying to get information about "Doc Casey's".

    It was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. I talked to Vets that could barley speak about thier time there without their voices cracking up in the sadden memories. I heard their words echoing through my head countless times over and over again.

    "We were all kids, most of us only 18 and 19 years old. The Old men in our group were 20", "I have had problem talking about that time in life, I had to block it out so I could go on", most of the time when I hung up the phone I could feel the tightening in my chest and afterwards I would just sit and stare off into space. I think that the only thing that got me through even this small glimpse into a nightmare was my family and knowing that others had been there and made it through.

    After a bit, Mary Cate and I finally agreed on a date, July 15th, and I started to move forward getting everything ready. The Commanding Officer of NAES gave his full support of this endeavor and expressed his wishes to be there. I continued to contact more people in hopes that maybe I could raise the level of awareness of a remember Hero.

    On a Saturday afternoon at 12:30 I finally got to meet Bobby's sister Mary Cate and his brother Bill, along with other members of their family. It was a weird and wonderful moment in my life, and even though I was excited, I was apprehensive. Not because of anything they had said, but because inside I was still struggling to come to grips with everything. If you would ask anyone that knew me, they would say that would be unusual for me, as I approach everything head on, but this was different.

    As we escorted them to the place we had set up, some of my apprehension faded as I focused on what I could do to put them at ease. I had set up the portrait, plaque and letter on a table right at the front of the door. It was the first thing everyone would see as they came in. As more and more people showed up, I felt my apprehension drifting away. Mary Cate had also brought some old photo's and newspaper clippings and we waited for the rest of the guest to arrive, people would look at the items on the table and would talk amongst themselves.

    It was time to start the ceremony and CDR Raffetto, my Officer in Charge began with his opening remarks. He spoke of how we all think of sports stars as heroes, but we were there to acknowledge a real hero, HM3 Casey. The CO, Captain Gordon, soon followed and he spoke of how Doc Casey did his duty. How it is important that we never forget him and others like him. While he spoke to the crowd, he focused on some children that were there as well. They answer his questions directed at them "Do you think you can remember today, and what we are here for? ", as the kids answered "yes" I found myself nodding as did many other adults.
    Don, a marine who was Doc Casey platoon sergeant at time, spoke next. He talked about how "Doc" didn't think about the danger and made light of the fact when he first met him, Bobby was a bit clumsy. The light levity reinforced our own humanity, and that was a great reminder needed in view of such a tragic event.

    There were a few more people that spoke, but when it came time for Bobby's brother Bill to say his words, I sat forward in my chair. I can't tell you exactly what he had written or spoke, as I was too stunned and amazed. It was short and simple, and the words drifted past me; their meaning though, lodged in my thoughts and I found it hard to see straight. They missed their brother, but were proud of his sacrifice, how the pain dulls to become a reminder instead, a part of life, instead of a missing piece of it. How Bobby would not see himself as a hero, just as a man doing what needed to be done.

    Afterwards his speech, he moved back to his chair and there was silence. A few eyes turned towards me, as I had done a lot of work to put this together, I was expected to say something. I stood up and started to speak, but I began to choke on my words. I had known that I might have to say something, and normally I am never at a loss for words (much to the frustration of my wife). I had to take a breath to force back the tears that threaten to flow down my face, but I managed to mumble a few words. Then it was over and we all began to mingle for a bit.

    As people started talking amongst themselves, another small but stunning event took place. One of the mothers of a Marine that died there showed up. HM3 Casey had died trying to save PVT. Church, which was the letter that was in the frame, it was from his mother thanking his family and sharing in their sorrow, and here she was. This would be the first time the two families had met.

    I don't know what words they spoke to each other; it was a private moment for them. Even if I was standing next to them, I wouldn't have shared it. I know I saw them hug and, exchange some smiles and tears.

    After a bit, things began to settle down and we took all that wished to the base information center as they had been kind enough to open it for our group. After the tour the friends and family of Doc Casey thanked me a few more times before they started on their way home. I told them I wish there was more I could do, and expressed the fact that I didn't do this for thanks or praise, and that I didn't do it alone. I and those that helped put this together did it because it needed to be done.

    After I got home later in the day, I sat down on the couch and began to reflect on the last couple of weeks. I thought about how that during the War in Vietnam our country had divided itself; some struggling with the feelings of betrayal by their own countrymen as they came back from what they felt was doing their duty and were ridiculed and yelled at. People knowing their friends or family were fighting in a war and possibly dying in a foreign country far from home. The news showing horrible sights and telling of death and destruction, opposition against the government and confusion on all sides; not much has changed, yet everything has.

    As all this swirled through my head, my thoughts drifted back to early in the day, there were two guests who were quite during the ceremony, but yet they were just as important as those that spoke. There was an active duty Marine, he had gotten a head injury in Iraq and had been invited. He has some difficulty with words, but the few he said were very special to anyone that listened. The smile on his face was contagious and even though he told me " I still have problems with words" , I could see in his eyes that what we had done there was something that pleased him.
    The other person wasn't there physically, and though he didn't say anything; his presence surrounded us none the less. We talked about him, looked at him, shed tears for him, and smiled at memories of him. Have no doubt Doc Casey was there and we all knew it.
    Thank you Doc for reminding me what is important in life.

    Written By HM1(SW/AW) Richard C Ponke
     
  2. Zombie Pornstar

    Zombie Pornstar I'm cumming RAWL

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