I witnessed the civilian death of a marine, and let me tell you, jar heads are just as impressive off the battlefield.
He was the father of a trio of brothers I was friends with in high school before I came to Skaneateles. His sons were "all male" even as teenagers. They practiced judo, rode horses, raced motorcycles and chased women like crazy. Not sure if I got the order right?
Those three sons headed to Alaska after first seeing this great country of ours. Two are now commercial fisherman on Kodiak Island, where they fish for salmon, black cod, halibut and occasionally tanner (snow) crabs. Along with their six packs, those two have eight packs, which is a license that allows one to drive a very big boat.
Their dad, Ted, was a solid mass of a quiet man. He was more like a boulder than a rock. He ultimately lived the old fashion American dream, meaning he had a house and a job and was married to his wife for 54 years after returning from the Korean conflict.
Ted was a marine in the first tank division, and ultimately one of the Chosin Few. Skaneateles' Joseph R. Owen, 1st Lieutenant, U.S. Marine Corps, was riding with that division when he was wounded at the Chosin Reservoir. He authored the book "Colder than Hell" about that experience, which is often used as a text in our military schools. Owen once told me that men like Ted are still held in high esteem by the marines who face battle today.
Ted's wife was a nurse and in the end she was his nurse. He died of esophageal cancer. It took about a year; a year of weight loss, family visits, pain management, feeding tubes and flashbacks.
The flashbacks started in an emergency room. He was cold, so his wife took his coat and laid it on top of him. She said in that moment he went back to Korea, when he was in those frozen mountains trying to keep warm and trying even harder to keep the wounded warm with extra jackets. The Chosin was an engagement in North Korea where the temperatures were bitter cold. He said it wasn't the dead that bothered him, but the wounded. It was their suffering that haunted him.