For those of you who follow this blog you know who the Old Marine is. He is my Step Father, and Dad. This morning I was told that he passed on. He did not suffer, he was getting ready to drive himself to Dialysis treatment at the Zablocki VA hospital in Milwaukee. When he was late the nurse called my Brother, because Dad was never late for these treatments. My Brother Andy said that when he got to Dad's it looked like he had gotten dressed then just laid back on his bed and went back to sleep.
The Old Marine was 79, he is survived by four kids, 8 grand kids, and 7 great grand kids. Funeral arrangements are being made, and I will post them here as soon as I can. I have not cleared this with my youngest siblings yet, but I think that instead of flowers if you would make a donation in the Old Marine's name to either the Wounded Warrior Project, or Run For the Wall, he would like that. He used to insist that I call him everyday from the Run when he was not on it, and he also enjoyed all the pictures of all his friends.
I have requested that the Wisconsin Patriot Guard attend his funeral, but I am waiting for a response from their ride captain. I think he will be buried in East Troy Wisconsin, but do not have those details.
The last time I saw him was up north, and he was doing good. He had lost a lot of weight, but he was happy. The last time I talked to him on the phone he was doing fine. Tired and old, but happy that he was getting the siding completed on the family cottage.
He participated in Run For The Wall in 2005, went from Wentzville to D.C., then again in 2006, and 2007 and 2008. He has done the entire central route twice in those 4 trips, and participated in Rolling Thunder in 2005. He also rode on my Brothers Bob, Shoreparty, Talley's bike into Arlington, once with the Run,then again to attend a funeral for a friend of ours wife.
He has only been gone a few hours, but I will miss him forever. As I got older he got smarter. He was the one that encouraged me to do the first Run that I did. My Brother told me that I should, my Dad told me that I had better or he would break a Marine Boot off in my but. Every year in January he would ask if I was making arrangements to go. In 2006 for Christmas we gave him a vest with the Run For the Wall patches on it. He lit up like I have never seen him when he opened that box up.
I will carry that vest with me on the Run this year. I may keep it, or I may leave it at the wall for him. If I do that I will leave it at the Korean War Memorial.
I was 50 years old when he finally told me what he did in the Marines. We were at a Mexican Restaurant in Arlington, VA with about 9 or ten folks from the Run, when one of them asked him what he did in the Marines.
He laughed and then he told us the story. I am going to repeat it as I remember it here:
I was a 60 MM mortar crewman. We would dig pits from one end of our camp to the other, in all compass directions. Then if the camp were to get over run the team's job was to stop them. There were 9 guys on the team, 3 per Mortar, one to carry the tube, one to carry the plate, and one to carry the ammo. Our pits were lined up 20 yards apart, with fall back pits starting at 100 yards from them third pit. We would drop a round, grab everything and run like hell to the next pit. we would set up and drop a round as the next two teams passed us. (I then asked what the maximum effective range of that mortar was) He pointed at a Hotel about 150 yards away and said it would hit about that far out. (I was amazed, and when I told him that was rifle range, or less he answered) Yeah well we were for emergencies and getting over run only, we just hoped that never happened. When someone asked him how he got that job he laughed hard and said, I was the fastest at the 100 yard dash in my platoon, so I guess I volunteered for it.
My Dad and I did not always get along, but he loved me and I loved him. I have bad memories of him, but I also have great memories of him. I remember the time he forced my Brother Bob onto the back of a Harley, and when the got back he had to force him off it. I remember him taking us water skiing when we were kids, and fishing, on the one time I went deer hunting I went with him. He was not always a great guy, but I choose to remember the great times. I am thankful that he did not suffer, and I am glad that he was in my life.