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Another Old Warrior Moves On.


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We buried my FIL last Wednesday. He had dementia and Alzheimer's and after he lost his wife in August of 2015 he went downhill pretty fast. My wife took leaves of absence to care for them in home hospice, He was mobile and occasionally himself in November, and then was bedridden but with us, and in the week before he passed he was essentially comatose.

 

We were glad to see his suffering end.

 

The Barksdale AFB honor guard sent out a Rifle Squad, a Bugler, and Flag Ceremony teams who were also his pallbearers from the hearse to grave, They did the folding and presentation and all stood at attention when the bugler played taps from afar. It was professional, done with respect and acknowledgement that he was indeed one of "us." I held my water all through the service at the chapel presided by a cousin who grew up in and out of his uncle's house, and despite that, became a minister. But when they played taps it sunk in that another warrior from a great generation was gone, and a few tears slid while I stood at attention for the first time in more than a few years. He wasn't a braggart or person living in past glory. He was a straight shooter to the end without being mean spirited.

 

He joined in the brown shoe Army Air Corps just after WWII ended in 1948. HIs first assignment was Army as house staff and honor guard for General Douglas Macarthur when he was military governor of Japan. He transferred to the new Air Force and served through Korea, the Cuban Missile crisis, and Bay Of Pigs, then through Vietnam stationed in Thailand, and retired here in Bossier City after 20 years and a day as he put it.

 

He has a framed decree from Macarthur stating he was in his honor guard with dates and MacArthur's signature. I am adding that, his shadow boxed flag, and the front page of the Shreveport Journal newspaper announcing the end of WWII, to my office walls, along with mine.. He was 86, and will be missed.

 

I met him and my future wife in February 1971 when I was just out of basic and learning my new job as medic on the adult female ward. We dated for 18 months and were married in Marshal Texas by a JP as her dad bribed her with a $5000.00 check if we skipped an expensive wedding and eloped. We all agreed, and they stood up for us with our best friends at the civil ceremony. We later were married by my uncle in my Uncle's Episcopal Church at the foot of the bridge to Long Island. My brother and his wife made it a dual reaffirmation wedding in 1974, which allowed our childhood friends and family to participate too. One of the cast of the then hit musical Cats came and did the guitar music and songs.

 

He was the dad I never had, and taught me to sit in boats and trees in cold and steamy weather to take fish and game for the table, something he took seriously. He also made a truck patch every year and would grow more than all of us could can in every vegetable and fruit that grows here. He had a green thumb and once grew tomatoes that were 10' - 12feet tall. No one believed it and the local news did a story on it.

 

Since retiring he has been and A/C tech and owner of his own biz, a shrimper off the Coast in Cameron with a Lafitte skiff he bought, and then he bought land and decided to rent trailers he refurbished and maintained in the quiet rural area never allowing junk or lawnmowers as part of the appeal was no yard work.

 

He was a funny guy with a quick wit and smile.

 

One of the local deputies assigned to escort the hearse did not realize who it was until he saw some folks he went to high school with 3 hours from here in the opposite side of the state. He didn't realize it was GW, which initials he went by all his life, instead of George and his last name. He had not seen any of the folks there in more than 20 years and he went to HS with GW too! He was proud to be there and stayed for the graveside ceremony.

 

For a military retiree or vet that served honorably and loved the service, it was a validation of our place in the long line of American military through the years, and at the end, gave him honors.

 

They presented the flag to my wife, as her brother is younger by a few years, and his wife is gone. It was then placed in a nice shadowbox with three of the spent casings from the firing team's guns in front. The flag and all the honors were taken care of by the Base Mortuary affairs office I think it was. MY wife has power of attorney so my job was support and keeping her free of caring for me as I recover from recent elective surgeries.

 

He would have said, "the base team done me proud."

 

Huah!

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Hey bud, sorry to hear of the loss of your friend. When we do go. it's a real honor to go with a full military type funeral. while in service i was selected to do about 15-20 of them. An all tho i didn't know the person i was doing it for. it still gave me tears. Knowing that in some small way i was part of the family's memories of that person.

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Thanks guys.

I was surprised to see a full team deployed too Remo.

 

Wild,

Thanks. I served on funeral details as well from 1971-1973 out of Barksdale AFB. Then, as now, except for major ceremonies, most of the base honor guard are Airman as they need their turn at learning drill, ceremony, traditions, and what they mean, by doing.

BTW, It wasn't for a friend but for my FIL - my wife's dad. We held each other in high esteem. Both of us the only military in our nuclear families.

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RIP to your FIL, The Final Salute! Condolences to you and your wife!! I have lost my mom-60, aunts, uncles on her side. One sister(80) and two (72) & 66 of five brothers All from Alzhiemers!. :angry: One of the most horrific diseases that causes much grief! Have one brother who is 72 and I, 65.5 yrs young, so far surviving!

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Thanks Pierre,

I'm sorry you had so much of it affecting your loved ones. My mom had it, and mercifully was taken by a sudden pulmonary embolism after a car wreck. Her short term was totally gone. But she knew us and her long term and personality were intact. MIL was lymphoma. We also had her grandmother move in with us for her last five years when our kids were preteens. My FIL always said if he got it he was going to eat a bullet. But he waited too long. I sure wish more states would allow doctor assisted suicide so we could have the choice whether to go through it or save our dignity and avoid the family having terrible last memories. We have DNR living wills. And our wills specify no funeral just cremation and our kids know no urns just scatter or use us in their garden. But that is just us. YBMV (Your Beliefs May Vary)

 

I respect those that do differently for themselves.

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I offer my sympathies Derek. I lost my Dad (Navy WWII) to Alzheimer's complications Dec. 23, 2004, after a year of inpatient care. He became violent and uncontrollable in that last year.

I wanted desperately to take him to the WWII memorial dedication but he was too far gone by then.

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Sorry you couldn't take him. We were lucky that he was never violent just got agitated and tried to run away several times to go home to his mama. We'd find him dressed and a brown paper bag full of some clothes. But we'd taken his keys and guns and let him sit on the patio until he decided to come back inside having forgotten he had what he referred to as having had a "Spell."

 

If there is something after, they are likely grateful for the comfort we provided. They were comforted in any event.

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