This is the most important blog entry....to me...that I have ever written and I have decided to move it here for safe keeping rather than the other site. Maybe this place is becoming home after all.
Today, Feb. 10,2010, at five in the afternoon as his mother and I made our way to Memphis to catch the first flight out in the morning, Our Son Richard passed away.
We did not make it in time to say goodbye, but that's alright. We will be there tomorrow to say our goodbyes and to be with Lindsey and little Aric.
Mel and I are at peace with how it all turned out, in fact to be honest with you it could not have been any better. The boy did good.
Let me tell you about Richard's last day on Earth....
Richard was moved from Hospice care and back into the hospital. His strength was fading fast and he was struggling to hold on. He was fighting for every breath. He was fighting to stay with his wife and child. He was fighting to hang on until we reached his side.
He was a Warrior.
A little before four o'clock the hospital in which he was a patient suddenly exploded in an uproar of excited voices in the hallways. Lindsey stepped out of the room and asked the nearest nurse, who was staring out the window, what was going on.
"Look out there," The nurse said excitedly and she pointed out the window.
Lindsey looked and there, landing on the hospital helipad was a big Blackhawk warbird. No one had been told it was coming and no one knew why it was there.
As soon as the big bird settled it's skids on the landing pad, thirty men, dressed in full dress uniforms unloaded and formed up in marching order.
They were the pilots and crews of Richards unit and they had come for one of their own....No man left behind.
The soldiers made quite a sight as they marched in step from the chopper and into the hospital, down the halls and into Richard's room. Each man of them was a friend, each man a comrade. They had come to say goodbye to one of their own.
They all gathered around Richard's bed and begin to talk to him gently, to tell stories, to share a common bond only warriors know. The leader of the group took Lindsey aside and told her she could take a break and get a little rest....they would watch over him for awhile.
So these men settled in to keep a vigil. Richard couldn't talk but his eyes went around the group, from man to man, from face to face and he smiled.
After about forty-five minutes, sensing that Richard was tiring fast, the group said their final goodbyes; each man taking Richard's hand for one last time. Then, in marching order they exited the hospital, all of them but one: Joe, Richard's closest friend in the unit stayed behind.
Joe sat by Richard's bed and held his hand. He prayed with Richard, never turning loose of him. Then, after a few moments of silence, Joe leaned over the bed and whispered to Richard.
"It's okay Rich. You can stop fighting now. You can go if you need to, it's gonna be alright."
Richard looked at him for a moment, then he turned his head and looked out his window....he had heard the sound of the Blackhawk as it lifted off the landing pad and began it's flight back to base. Richard stared out the window a moment....listening...then he closed his eyes and died.
Richard's spirit flew away.....following the big Blackhawk and his unit, into the sky. No man left behind.
All of this was relayed to his mom and me by Lindsey who finally reached us in Memphis.
So you see now why we are alright with not making it in time? Richard was first and foremost....a soldier and he went out like any soldier would want to go. It was fiting.
Thank you God for giving our boy such an exit, and thank you for giving us such peace.
Richard.....You did good son, damn good. Your mother and I are proud of you.