On Monday afternoon, I got a call I knew was coming, but one you’re never fully prepared for. My uncle Richard past away. He played a significant part in my life. For me, he served as an example of manliness with purpose. He had many attributes that I admired as I was growing up, and respect and strive to emulate to this day. I hope he has some conception of the impact he had on me, but the impact he had on countless others is immeasurable and likely unrealized by nearly all who are beneficiaries of his life of service. I’ll see you in glory Uncle Richard.
I wrote this piece back in March and would like to re-visit it. I hope it serves to remind you how very brief our time on earth is and how imperative it is to make the most of our time. Live a big life… a life in service of something greater than yourself. The impact you have and the legacy you leave will resonate far beyond what you can comprehend.
‘Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. ‘ James 4:14
This week has been one to remind me of this verse. My uncle has lived a pretty remarkable life. He grew up building homes with my grandfather, back in an era of hand tools and remarkable craftsmanship. He trained horses and rodeoed for a local vet. He joined the army after high school. He was a member of the Old Guard. He rode the lead horse in President Kennedy’s funeral procession. He choose to resign his post with the Old Guard to go to Viet Nam, to go to war. He served 3 tours, accumulated many accommodations, including the bronze star with oak leaf cluster and the purple heart with 2 oak leaf clusters. He ran marathons, and then ultra marathons toward the twilight of his military career. A career that ended, after 23 years, at Fort Carson in Colorado. I know my uncle’s flaws. He’s far from perfect, but I love him a great deal. I have a great many memories of time spent with him. Memories going back to when I was a very small boy. Not one of which is a bad or painful memory. He is a man who lived quite a life. A life in service to his country, his family and his friends. But, his life has been just a vapor. He is 81 years old and his health is declining fairly quickly. As I was growing up, I saw a GIANT of a man. He was GI Joe, a cowboy, the real McCoy. I could never have imagined him any other way. His time is drawing to a close, but the imprint he has left on me and so many others will live on and echo far beyond what he could ever fathom. He’s done so much, seen so much, and lived so very much. But, most of all, I will remember the way that he loved and served so very very much. When I go to visit him on Saturday, I will see the GIANT, the GI Joe, the cowboy, just as I always have and just as he will be once again in glory.
Edit: On one of our visits, after I originally wrote this, I asked him what he was most proud of regarding his military service. His response, “I never lost a man under my command.” He served 3 tours in Viet Nam. First in the southern zone, second in the western, and third in the northern “pink” zone. His third tour was spent in command of a recon unit. For this assignment, he was hand picked by Colonel K.C. Leuer. Colonel Leuer needed a man to shape up and revitalize his recon. Uncle Richard’s reputation and record seemed to be what the Colonel had in mind. Uncle Richard cleaned house, then hand picked 40 men, did what the Colonel wanted, and made sure they all came home. Colonel Leuer retired with the rank of Major General. However, not before General Abrams tasked him, in 1974, with resurrecting a Ranger battalion. His battle hardened, tenacious leadership style was just what Abrams was looking for. He succeeded, and earned the moniker “Father of the modern day Rangers”.
Live a big life, people. Serve and share Jesus. Be Jesus in service to others. Love… like there’s no tomorrow, love… because someday there won’t be. Have a blessed weekend
‘Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. ‘ John 15:13
In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy