Wednesday, August 22, 2007

TAPS to my Loved Ones

The truth is that Millie the Geek is destroying Millie the Coastie as of late. It is kind of sad since Millie the Coastie has been on top since January. I suppose nothing great can stay that way indefinitely. This is my link to the Navy Times. (For those of you who don't know...Millie is actually Jacqueline. Shh...don't tell.) The point is that Millie the Coastie was doing least for a little while.

I love the Coast Guard. Whenever I am feeling less than Semper Paratus, I will read the Coast Guardsman Creed, I will stare at my plaque of the CG Core Values, or my MLCPAC EPOY Plaque or I will look at the picture that I took last week of the 11 year old who stopped me at the M's game to take a picture. I look at these things and usually feel renewed. Usually I am filled with pride of being part of the world's premier maritime service. Yet for the past few days I feel nothing.

I am not sure what is the cause. Perhaps it is the changes in my office, perhaps it is the one year anniversary of losing some great shipmates...I honestly don't know.

I know that when I think of LT Jessica Hill and BM2 Steve Duque I still break down and cry. I think of MK1 Brian Bernier and I cry. I think of PS2 Eddie Thomas and I cry. I think of PS2 Gill and I cry. These shipmates were not my closest friends so maybe I don't have the right to cry. Yet these are fallen shipmates that I had the pleasure of serving with and their void still pains me. All four passed away in the line of duty about a year ago (or even less).

LT Jessica Hill is the hardest to think about. I liked her so much as a person. When I think of her, I think of how great she was with kids, namely Elizabeth, and I cry. She would have been a great mother. She was a great shipmate and a great woman. As time passes, fewer people remember LT Hill. I was lucky enough to know LT Jessica Hill and plain Jess Hill the person. I don't know if the day will ever come that I don't tear up when I think of my fallen shipmate and friend. Part of me hopes that it never comes. The Coast Guard lost a great officer when we lost LT Hill, and I feel like I lost a friend and role model when Jess passed.

I did not go to her memorial service last Friday. I was a coward. I was terrified that I would see her father. I remember meeting her father in November 2004. He reminded me of my own father. He was so proud of her just for serving her country. I was terrified that I would see him and not know what to say. I often consider sending him emails to let him know that his daughter was one of the great CG role models in my life. I know that I cannot send this. It means everything to me that Jess was my role model. a father that lost his daughter...I am sure that my words of praise will offer little comfort.

I did not know Steve Duque...but I feel that I understand what kind of Petty Officer he was. I don't have much to say...except that as long as I wear a CG uniform I will always think of the young BM2 who gave his life for the United States Coast Guard. I often wonder what great changes he would have made if he had lived long enough to climb the chain.

Brian Bernier lived the Coast Guard Core Values. He was off duty and fate put him in a position that required him to be a Coast Guardsman. He lost his life in that situation, in front of his family. I only met Brian once, yet I think of him often. Brian and his family will be in prayers everyday.

I think of PO Gill everyday because he left behind a pregnant wife. I console myself with the fact that I made a contribution to his memorial fund that will hopefully give something to the family that he left behind. I never met PO closest tie to him is that I presented colors at his memorial service. A day doesn't pass that I don't think of his wife and child.

Lastly...I talk of PO Eddie Thomas. I honestly feel guilty when I think of him. He was a fine Coast Guardsman and police officer. He died while serving as a police officer. I often think of that night. I remember the sirens, as he died only a few streets down from my house. (It is a safe neighborhood...yet one person can ruin everything.) I remember the the time there were merely a noise that was keeping me awake. Yet the next morning I found out that those sirens were the sound of a shipmate in trouble. When I think of Eddie, I think of his smile. He always entered my office with a smile. He loved the Coast Guard and the police department equally.

All of these shipmates passed on in the past year (or less.). Brian and Steve are names and legends that I think of and aspire to be. Jess and Eddie are friends that I continue to grieve for. Their void will never be filled...they will never be replaced...and nothing can erase them from my memory.

Why do I write about this? Maybe it is because their memorials are opening up wounds. Maybe it is because I am frustrated and I am looking for my way in the CG. I don't know.

I have achieved some great things in my 5 years in the CG. MLCPAC EPOY is no small feat. Navy Times Coast Guardsman Person of the Year Honorable Mention is no small feat. Yet is nothing to my shipmates who gave their lives while living the Core Values.

The only purpose of this post is to show respect for my fallen shipmates...even if no one else reads it. I will probably never be in the position to give my life in the line of duty and I am okay with that. The only thing that I have to offer Jess, Steve, Brian, Ronny, and Eddie is that I will continue to serve. I will continue to be the best US Coast Guardsman I can be. I might not change the Coast Guard... but no one in the CG will forget their sacrifices while I wear the uniform.

Today...Millie the Geek is the winner. Yet Millie the Coast Guardsman morns the loss of 5 shipmates in less than a year. It isn't a fair fight. Please bear with today is a bad day.

I love the Coast Guard...I love America...and I miss my shipmates. Even though today is a day that I am not gung ho Coastie...I still wouldn't give it up for anything. And so I close with a moment of BLOG silence for my fallen shipmates whom I miss and love dearly.

Come to think of it...I started this blog thinking that Millie the Geek won but I have changed my mind. Millie the Coastie won. As long as I continue to think and serve for my fallen shipmates...Millie the Coastie wins.

Semper Paratus!

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