When A United States Marine Dies

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Growing up I always was fascinated with the stories my uncle would tell all of us kids. He liked to talk about his time in the United States Marine Corps (USMC), his friends he made, the friends he lost, the places he visited, and his experiences. But, he wasn’t always a marine. Before he was a Marine he was part of a family which consisted of eight sons and eight daughters. He was the youngest boy, born 06 October 1932 in Mandan North Dakota. Coming from a family of Marines he knew early on he wanted to be a Marine and continue the legacy. He enlisted in the USMC on 08 October 1950 and was quickly carted off to fight in the Korean War where he completed multiple tours. In July 1953 with the end of the Korean war in sight he was cycled back to the United States he found himself stationed at Fort Huachuca in Arizona. Later in the year, 15 October 1953 he married his high school sweetheart and began his own family. Over the years they had nine children, five boys and four girls. In 1965 he was part of Rolling Thunder, the initial wave of soldiers being sent to Vietnam. He would do three tours in Vietnam, his last one in 1970 falling short since he was wounded in action. He returned home in the summer of 1970 and retired later in the year with 20 years of active service with the United States Marine Corps. At this time, my uncle, a retired USMC vet, decided to open a hardware/feed store where he grew up outside of Mandan. He would run the hardware shop for thirty years and finally decided that it was time to let his children carry on with it. The hardware store remains open today, some 42 years later.

In early June 2013 my uncle was diagnosed with a cancer I won’t try to pronounce or spell. by the time it was diagnosed it was spread to almost 60% of his body. He went into intense therapy to try and attempt to eradicate the cancer but it only put a little dent and then decided to continue to spread aggressively. On 09 October 2013 he was re-admitted to the hospital die to complications with his liver and kidneys which later in the week completely shut down. My mother, his last remaining sibling rushed to North Dakota to be by his side as everyone was fearing this would be his final trip to the hospital. He had recently, the week before, celebrated his 81st birthday a frail, sick, shell of the man he once was. Knowing he was going to die very soon he demanded to be let out of the hospital because he did not want to spend his 60th wedding anniversary in a hospital bed. On the morning of 15 October 2013 he was released into the care of his wife. Upon request, he was helped to get dressed in his finest Sunday suit for dinner in their one room apartment that evening, celebrating his wedding anniversary with the love of his life. In the wee hours of Wednesday, 16 October 2013 my uncle passed away.

His funeral will be this coming Monday, 21 October 2013. I was told that once a Marine, you are always a Marine, and you will die a Marine. His funeral will be a full on USMC service and burial. Many of his fellow Marines he served with over the years will attend to pay their respects as well as family and friends. When I spoke to my aunt this morning and my mother last night I was told that the one thing she is not looking forward to is being present the United States flag which will have been draped on the casket. She thinks the reality of his death will come to pass at that moment. She was very emotional. My mother has requested me to make my aunt a shadow box enclosure to house the flag and a variety of his Marine memorabilia she will be returning home with. As I wiped the tears from my eyes, as I am having to do now, I accepted the task. As I say farewell to my uncle Steven I am reminded what a remarkable son he was to his parents, how he cherished the very ground he wife walked upon, he was a great brother, and how he is a wonderful father, grandfather, and great grandfather. He was many things to many people, he was a man who was the picture of honor and reliability, luckily I knew him my entire life as uncle Steven.

A Girl And Her New Truck

 I have mentioned a time or two how my 17 y/o daughter is driving now and how she has a fascination with driving my trucks. Most of her driving education was completed in one of my trucks. In fact her driver’s education was provided by me thru the PTDE program (Parent Taught Drivers Education) offered here in Texas. Now, she has a car (currently for sale) that was given to her by her biological father over a year ago for her sixteenth birthday. He had bought a new vehicle and figured he would give her his old car. Well, it isn’t that old, it’s a 2008 Nissan Sentra SE-R which had only 17K miles on it. He thought it was perfect for her since she’s only 5′ tall. Since day one she has not really cared for it a great deal and said she felt very “small” in it when she was driving. But, we kept the car because it was a gift. That don’t mean it was driven a great deal. There has been under one thousand miles put on it in 14 months. Secretly, her and her grandmother had been searching for a truck. However, her and her grandmother didn’t exactly know what they were looking for or what they were looking at altogether. This is where I was called in. They needed help locating a truck. Now, if my daughter had her way, she would be driving my H1 Alpha because she thinks I need to give it to her. Way wrong answer. What’s the next best thing? Well, actually, there isn’t a next best thing because nothing else on the planet even compares to a H1 Alpha. I hunted for many months across the continental United States to find the one I want, I have no intention of parting with it just yet. They know I will search until I find exactly what I want and I won’t settle.

First of all I sat down with her and she explained what she was looking for in a truck. Her list wasn’t real hard to fathom and I figured I would be able to fulfill what she wanted to have. Now we had to talk budget. She has scrimped and saved 2 thousand dollars, her grandmother gave me five thousand dollars, and as I found out, the rest was going to be up to me. Hey, it’s better than having to foot the entire cost myself, so I graciously took all donations. She explained she was looking for solid red, solid black, or solid white. She wanted four doors. She wanted it to be 4×4 with a small lift. She wanted it to be an older model Ford. She wanted it to be a standard because she has found that to be her preference. She didn’t want a fixer upper, she wanted something to drive right away. That was about it for what she was actually looking for. Seemed like it would be easy enough because what she was looking for was pretty broad in the overall scale of things. Plus, living here in Texas, finding a 4×4 Ford isn’t all that hard, it’s the finding the right one for sale that showed to be a challenge. I have some standard places I start when looking to buy anything vehicular, Craigslist.com and Autotrader.com because they usually have a great local selection. If those two fail me I grab an actual paper and go from there. I searched on and off for a couple weeks and really didn’t see anything I wanted to give money for because I really didn’t care for them. My wife said I should have been taking my daughter out looking because it should be her choice. True. But beyond how it looks she would be no help. Although, I have been teaching her about the importance of everything under the hood and under the vehicle. I don’t know if it all makes total sense to her or not. She has “gear head” tendencies for sure, but I don’t want to force any of it on her, I just want her to know more than where to put the fuel.

All of the looking and disappointment soon came to end. My daughter, son, and I were driving to the lumber yard, yes an actual outdoor lumber yard, when we saw this red 4×4 Ford F350 with a 4-sale sign in the back window. She wrote down the phone number so we could call the owner later and maybe look at it. After spending about an hour at the lumber yard we finally found what we were looking for, got loaded up, and headed home. I got so involved in what we were doing that I had forgot we had a phone number to call. After a few hours I was reminded by my daughter to call. I was pretty disappointed because I had to leave a message as my inquiry. So, back to work. Later in the day just before dinner the gentleman gave me a call back. We discussed the truck in some detail and I decided it was worth a look. I didn’t tell my daughter he called because I wanted us looking at the truck to be a real surprise. The following morning, Sunday, we all loaded up in the H1 to go for a “ride”. Only my wife and I knew where we were going. We figured we would have fun and make a game out of it all. Since the man lived about 40 miles away from my house we just enjoyed the drive thru the countryside. It was quite nice just milling about way out in the boondocks. Finally we arrived at our final destination. As we drove up the dirt driveway I mentioned that I had to make a detour to talk to a man about some parts I was looking for that I needed to repair a trailer. I said we would only be a few minutes and then we could be on our way again. We pulled up by the house and the man was walking out the front door to meet us. I jumped out to go talk to him in advance of everyone else. Everyone else got out and came to where I was to meet up with me. The man said they could go look around all the old junk while we talked. My kids wandered off back behind the garage and disappeared out of sight. All of a sudden I’m getting a text message from my daughter to tell me that this man had a truck similar to the one we had saw driving the day before. She wanted me to come look at it and if I liked it to talk him into selling it. Really? This is an amazing development! We all made it back around the garage and my daughter was smiles from ear to ear. It was funny to watch. The only thing she said to me was “ask him”.

He started out telling us a story about the truck and how he ended up with it. His youngest son was the owner of the truck. His youngest son is a Marine who was killed in Afghanistan 18 months ago at age 23. He said he was holding onto the truck because he believed it would have sentimental value. He would drive it once a month or so to keep everything in good condition, he would keep the oil changed, he always kept it clean. But, now he wanted to sell it because he was done with his mourning and felt selling it would help him and his wife to move on with their own lives. Now, I didn’t know all of this about his son in advance, but I’m glad that he shared. He quickly changed gears and wanted to show off everything this truck had to offer. This was, however, his son’s first love. He spent every last nickel he had making this the truck that stood before us and spared no expense doing so over the years. The simple version of what was offered with this truck is as follows. It’s a 1997 F350 Crewcab Powerstoke 7.3L diesel with a 6″ suspension lift, 36″ tires, a 4″ dual exhaust, K & N treatment, and a Banks Power System. Also, it had electric trailer brake hook ups as well as a hide-away gooseneck ball. It also boasted a very clean and very well maintained interior. It is a 5 speed manual transmission as well as being what my daughter says is the perfect shade of red. To top it all off it has only 98,000 miles on it. Pretty much this truck has hit every mark on my daughter’s wish list. I was thinking quietly to myself that the truck was perfect to add to our family because it could be used to work as well as looking pretty. Let’s give it a test drive to see how it runs. It ran impressively, I would have no concerns with her driving this truck at all. I was also thinking he was about to drop the price bomb on me and it wasn’t going to be pretty. So, we started talking about price and he started talking about all the add-ons and special treatments it had. Then, after a long sigh he said a price that almost put me on my ass. Now, I was expecting something between $19K and $22K as it sits. So, I was very surprised, as well as happy when he said $11K will drive it home today. There is only one hiccup in the whole deal, he has no idea where the title is located. No big deal, I will pay the additional $25.00 for the title search. We shook hands and the deal was said and done. My daughter was so excited she ran up to him and gave him a very big hug and a very heart felt thank you. I gave him $9,000.00 in cash and wrote a check for the remaining $2,000.00 and then he handed the keys to my daughter.

After everything was settled I called USAA (my insurance provider) and had the truck added so we could drive it home. Everything was set with only one exception, the only two people who can drive a standard are my daughter and I. And she has very little experience doing it. So, she wants me to ride with her to ensure she has no problems. What does this mean? It means my wife will need to drive my H1 home. No big deal right? Wrong, in the almost 2 years I have had the H1 she has never driven it. Why? Because she thinks it is way to big, so she has never wanted to drive it. Well, today is the day I tell her. I just told her to follow us and try to keep up. We took off like a band of outlaws and hit the road to head home. My daughter did wonderful driving her new truck and had no problems. My wife had the same success and when we got home she handed me the keys and told me she has no desire to ever drive it again. My daughter said it is a big difference between driving her new truck and driving her Sentra. She loves it. We did good. My wife thinks it’s a bit too big for my daughter because she is so small. My daughter says those are fightin’ words. Once we got home she wanted me to take a few pictures for her………so she could update her Facebook status. So, I did my best and she posted pictures of her new truck. In the end the reason I’m writing this post is because I had a few pictures and the journey to finding the truck has been an interesting one. It made me think about how every vehicle tells a story about the previous owner and now the story continues with this truck and my daughter. I know what you are thinking, and yes, my daughter is a redneck just like her dear old dad. I have to hand it to her, she knew what she wanted, and now she is happy. Sadly, she said jokingly, her boyfriend can’t drive the truck because he can’t drive a standard and she’s not going to teach him. Kinda mean if you ask me.

And Now I Find Out He’s A Marine!

One of the guys I work with, we will just call him BS, also may be referred to as one of my work kids, always comes up with some whoppers on what he has done the weekend before. Now, before I begin let me give you some background on BS. I have known BS and his family since 2000, when BS was only 9 years old. My wife has worked side by side with his mom since then and I have worked off and on with his step dad over the years as well. In fact, I have worked for his step dad solid for the last four years. BS has worked here as well off and on for the last 4 years as well. He always has to work with his step dad because he can’t get and hold a job unless daddy is there to hold his hand on a daily basis. Tell you how bad off he has it. I consider BS a grown ass man. He is married which scares me because one day they will breed. But, eventhough he is employed fulltime, making $42K a year, his mommy pays his rent, pays his car payment, car insurance, and buys plenty of groceries every month. Why? In my opinion she just won’t cut the cord. BS is a skilled, a master even, habitual liar. I have always known this and out of respect to his parents and my wife I have always bit my tongue and looked away. I cannot be his friend because he, in my opinion, is a lazy piece of shit who has no control in his life and doesn’t care about anything but the lies he tells.

After working here for a few years our manager got tired of his bullshit and fired him. He spent about 14 months gone. Meanwhile our manager got fired and soon after BS was re-hired by daddy because he didn’t have a job and mommy and daddy were going broke. BS likes to tell tall tales. For some reason he does not think anybody knows any better. So, he has been back for a few months now and the other kids up here started asking him what he did while he wasn’t working here. He says he did a variety of things, anywhere from being a fireman, border patrol, race car driver, UFC fighter, and he became a United Stated Marine as well. When he started telling this story in particular my ears perked up like an old hound dog on the porch. He knew a few things or at least it sounded like he knew something for once. He talked for hours, he was getting frustrated because as he talked the others were asking for details and he would get his story all fucked up. I found myself laughing more than once during the story. Normally I walk away, ignore, and stay way out of it all because I am considered a family friend. Daddy does the same, just let’s him dig his hole deeper and deeper. But, on this day, he picked this day to drag me into the conversation. He told the guys that if they didn’t believe what he was saying as fact to just ask me since I spent a considerable amount of time in the Air Force. I don’t know how it related so I declined at first to give comment. After being nagged for a while I finally broke and gave in.

I told BS that he was full of shit and I would not be a part of his shit filled story because it is all one poorly told lie. BS said he could prove he was a Marine. So, I said to prove it. There are two ways I would have been convinced, show me a military i.d. card or show me your dog tags. Other than that leave me out of it. He went on to explain that he didn’t have either one on his person. I explained to him that if he was a Marine that he is forbidden from ever having either form of i.d. not on his person. BS continued with his cock and bull story and continued to get pissed off at me because I would not support his flagrant bullshit. Finally, I had enough. After he didn’t even know what or where he went to boot camp I was done with him. If he doesn’t know he spent a couple months at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego then there is more than just one problem for this poor dickhead. So, it continued until he actually pissed me off. I have a few friends with interesting jobs in and out of the military so I made a call to one of them and put them on the speaker so everyone could hear the conversation because I was going to settle this shit once and for all. Now the story evolved a bit, now he wasn’t active duty, he was Marine Corps Reserve so the same rules didn’t apply to him.

I started out the call with normal chit chat and then told my friend the reason I was calling was because I had a family friend who was in the Reserves and had misplaced his i.d. and all three sets of his dog tags. I gave him BS’s social security number, full name, and claimed rank. He checked 13 different data bases that covers ALL of the military personal ever to be in the military to include active, retired, dead, POW, MIA, and so forth. Guess what? BS was nowhere to be found. BS has never even applied to join any branch ever. Now this shit just got real. Now the kids here really started digging into him. I hung up with my friend and BS tells me it was all just crap and that guy wasn’t nobody and didn’t know shit about what he has done in his life or the Marines. Fair enough. I got onto my computer and went to a few database sites I have access to for background checks and so forth. Within a few minutes I was provided a shitload of information. I saw things I should not have seen. He had been in jail for 3 months for indecent exposure to a minor female. His parents were not aware of this and he quickly told me that I could never speak of it. I told BS fine, but it had already slipped that he spent time in jail so he quickly made up the story that he had beat the crap out of a police officer when he got pulled over for no reason and the cop was harassing him. The plot thickened from there. He got pissed and told me thank for not having his back. I told him that he did not want to involve me because I don’t play these fucking games with nobody. He hasn’t spoke to me in a few months now, in fact he is one of the quiet ones now, and he doesn’t really say anything in front of me because he knows I will slam the door on his bullshit.

There are a few things I have a hard time accepting, those are liars, posers, impostors, child molesters, thieves, cheaters, and outright and blatant bullshit. Anyway, I guess this one goes into the books in the category of “jail” in all intensive purposes of title-sake. I am very sure that this isn’t the last master tale to be crafted by BS and I am sure it won’t be the last lie he gets caught telling.