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March 16th, 2009

What do you say? @ 10:27 pm

Current Location: Charleston, SC
Current Mood: sad sad
Tags: , ,

This news came in the context of my duty as a Reservist in the US Air Force, so my thoughts and reflections are in light of that context. This may not be the best context, but it is what I have.

The Core Values of the United States Air Force are:
  • Integrity first
  • Service before self
  • Excellence in all we do
These resonate strongly with the memory of my friend.  He was one whose word was all you needed.  If he said something would happen, you could take it to the bank.  He was who he was and made no apologies about it.

We met through the Air Force Reserve.  Both of us took our oaths to our nation very seriously.  He was in the Navy in Vietnam.  He was always ready to help another in need.  He was a dependable member of any team he was on.  You could count on him to say just the right thing to make you feel better, or give you quiet, if stern, encouragement if that was what was needed.  He and his wife gave me support and guidance when I most needed it.

He was always working to improve himself and those around him.  If there was slack time, he would teach knots.  He worked in the field for the local phone company when we met.  I had a modem that made the slightest hiss on the line when connected and powered on.  He would repair lines with less noise on them than that.  Because of the standard he placed on his work, he traced an exceedingly minor fault to a tap on the line.  Most others wouldn't have bothered if they had heard it at all.

Finally, tying all of these together, during Desert Shield/Storm, he drove out in a storm to get a crew that was stuck on the flightline because it was the right thing to do.

My life is the greater for having known my friend.  While I am sad to hear of his passing, I have to smile at the story of one who tossed bottles into a trash bin one-at-a-time, bouncing them off the sides, because he liked the sound.

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Date:March 17th, 2009 03:58 am (UTC)
Clark, I'm sorry. I had no idea you knew Starhelm, or I'd have told you at the time.

We all lost something with his passing. He was one of the finest souls the Lady ever clothed in flesh.
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Date:March 24th, 2009 02:12 pm (UTC)
The bottles is one story I remember (although I thought it was recycling not trash) -- and then there's the baby-talk. But the one lasting image I have in my head is down at the Little Rock base, on a Sunday, him bouncing out of the bathroom area with his boundless energy, putting on his earrings, in front of the Shirt and everybody. After all, he _was_ off duty now...