Friday, May 23, 2008

I Will NOT Forget!

Earlier while on the Classmates web site I posted on a thread about Memorial Day. I titled my post "Just another day" knowing that would get the attention of many! Eddie was somewhat shocked when I told him what I had done until I told him what I wrote...while it is a very special day set aside to honor those who have served...for me it is just another day to remember because I REMEMBER THEM EVERYDAY! Freedom is not free, it has come with a very hefty price tag in the lives of so many of our brightest and best!

I wrote in my post that I think of so many by name when ever I hear our National Anthem play...I remember their names and the tears fall.

Today I want to copy an article I wrote for the Salute newsletter in September 2006.


It is with a heavy heart that I write this...and whisper once again, I will remember ALWAYS...I WILL NOT FORGET.

I will not forget.

We were at Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC) today to visit our Marines there...Marines because those are the contacts that we have. We are trying to find contacts to reach our other wounded men and women. At 0730 we were there as the Marines gathered for formation. We had not had a chance to talk to anyone yet so the news we heard hit us hard. I am thankful for my parents and the lessons they taught me, "Bad things happen but we must be strong, we must handle every situation as it comes with strength." In other words no "cry babies". I remember at Dad's funeral how each one of us, his seven children stood tall and proud and no crying there! That lesson helped as the Gunny told the Marines that they had to carry on though they had recently lost two of their own here at BAMC...the only name I heard was Cpl B (I am only using names where I have received permission or know it is fine with the person or family) and it stabbed at my heart. We had met him on our last visit and had been praying for him every day. (his story is in my journal and I will one day tell it here on our blog.) I looked at my husband and took a deep breath. I wanted to turn around and cry but I did not. While I did feel the "sweat" in my eyes I willed myself not to cry, not here, not now. I could do that later, would do that later. and forever I will remember him.

I will also forever remember LCpl S, a young Marine I never met but wrote to while he served in Iraq. I will never forget the day that I sat at my computer and opened an email from a Marine Mom I know. She had given me his address and that of her son, they were serving together. She told me that LCpl S had been killed on November 9th (2005). As I read her note I said "OH NO!" And it must have been louder than I thought because Eddie came quickly to the computer room to see what was wrong. We were alone so I could cry as he comforted me and we prayed for his family. I will keep the letter he wrote to me...I will always remember him.

The number of those lost to us grows and each death hurts. I wish there were no people out there who desired to hurt us, no terrorists who attacked us viciously on 9/11 and still want to kill Americans. There have been and may be more wars we will have to fight. The price of freedom is high. It has been purchased with the blood of those who have fought to protect us. Let us always remember those who fight to protect that freedom for us. Each time I hear our National Anthem or any patriotic song, I think of many of those we have lost; My father, Charles Gaudette who died in Okinawa while serving our country; Lt Mitchell and Cpl Duffy who were killed when my husband was wounded; and many others whose names are on the Vietnam Memorial; LCpl S and Cpl B from our current war...(and others who have been killed since this was originally written...
Cpl T from our Fox battery Marine Reserve unit and Cpl Steven Szwydek
whose parents we met in Washington DC.)

I will always remember them and their families, I promise I WILL!

Connie Beesley

More pictues

We were thrilled when we went to our mail box earlier this week! Rep. Jason Murphy had sent us several pictures that were taken at the capital. It is for sure.....their photographer is better than I am.

This is Jason presenting Eddie with a flag that had flown over our state capital!

Here, Eddie is leading the House members in our flag salute. This is the first time Eddie has saluted the flag in civilian clothes....a hard thing for him to get used to because it was DRILLED into him that you only salute when in uniform AND wearing your cover (hat to you civilain folks). I am very glad that has been changed...a man or women who has worn a uniform in service to our nation deserves to be able to salute our flag!

This picture was taken in the same place as the one I posted earlier....only with a much better camera!
We were so glad to get these pictures...they will all go into Eddie's scrap book of ALL his exploits and adventures!!!!!

Connie Beesley

Monday, May 19, 2008

Carver Center

We are blessed with many wonderful friends. It was our friends Tiffany and Don Smith who set up our first speaking engagement at the Carver Center in Oklahoma City, OK in January of 2006 where we would be meeting with many veterans in the substance abuse program.

Tiffany even "googled" book signings to check on some pointers! What a lady! She had posters made for us! We arrived to a room decked out with lovely table decorations and the smell of good food!

As the veterans entered we were able to meet and greet them and chat a while before dinner. There were also a lot of others invited...some of them from the Veterans Administration...everyone was glad when the "chow" line was open and we could fill our plates with food! Our daughter Teresa was able to make it to hear her Dad speak and also visit with Tiffany and Don...(It was through Teresa and her daughter Brittnee that we met these wonderful people).

After we had all eaten, Eddie was introduced and did his "thing". He told his story, our story. He let them know that even though he'd been seriously injured...
many good things came after and we've had a good life. Losing his legs closed some doors to him, but opened others. After speaking he opened it up for questions...
then he signed books for all those that were there.

Later we were told that the men who had been there that night were "holding their heads higher and complaining less".

We were back at the Carver Center in March of 2007. The evening went much the same as before...ONLY this time all the veterans wanted me to sign the book too! It really was quite a thrill to turn to my chapter and sign the book for them! It is "special" to be able to say that I have a chapter in his book named after me!

While we were signing books a veteran came up to Eddie and quietly said "Your talk was just in time." It makes us realize that what we are doing does mean something and makes a difference to those we meet and speak with.

It is like a song we heard last night about letting your scars show....because then others see them AND SEE HOW YOU HAVE OVERCOME THEM! IF you can do it...SO CAN THEY!
IF telling our story helps others....we will continue for as long as we are able!


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Veteran of the WEEK!

I know, I know....didn't post yesterday like I should have....You see life AND grandchildren sometime have a way of interfering with our plans! Shortly after we finished at the State Capital we started getting "those" phone calls, you know
the ones that start out "Grandpa can you?" Our grand daughter Brittnee had been saving for what seemed like FOREVER for her...she wanted to buy an I phone. And she really thought she had enough AND couldn't wait another day! Don't have a clue why she even needs an I phone... Anyway we picked her up and headed for the bank. She cashed her birthday checks and took money out of her savings account and then we went to the cingular store. OF COURSE she was still a bit short and owes us about 40.00....BUT she now has her I phone and she's a "happy camper". It was late when we got all of this done and I just didn't get to our blog last evening.....BUT here it is!
After running a few errands and having a nice lunch at Applebee's we were on our way to the Oklahoma State Capital. We were amazed that there was a "cherry parking place" right up close.
Oh, a "cherry" place is a handicap spot. Our youngest grand son Jace called it that when he was learning to talk. Wheelchair was just too big a word for a little boy! We still call it that though!
We were early, so we sat there a while just watching the flags waving in the wind. We both commented on what a pretty state capital we have.
As we went through security, of course Eddie had to be checked because his chair sets off the alarm. The officer asked the usual questions about "do you have any weapons, knives, guns or bazookas". Eddie said "only my hands, I'm a Marine". They both laughed. Eddie's sense of humor puts others at ease.
We knew we needed to be on the 4Th floor but once there we had no clue where our Representatives office was...and of course we started looking in the wrong wing! As we were heading for the other side a very young looking gentleman met us at the door asking who we were looking for. I ALMOST said "you". He sort of looked like I remembered Jason Murphy...but much younger! You know how it is when you aren't exactly sure of something or someone AND don't want to look foolish. So, I said we were looking for room 400 B AND then his smile told me he was Jason! I hope I didn't embarrass him by telling him the job fit him well as it had made him look younger than I remembered him!
After a short visit in his office we headed to the House Chambers. It is pretty awesome to be invited to our capital. We watched as the Representatives began to filter in and recognized several we had met in the past. Soon the session was opened with prayer and then Jason Murphy introduced Eddie as the States Veteran of the WEEK! It was then Eddie's privilege to lead them all in the flag salute. I noticed he saluted as he did! Though it is now approved for those military members in civilian clothes to salute, he rarely does. He was given a Citation naming him Veteran of the Week AND a United States Flag that had flown over the capital on May 5Th! WOW!
We are so blessed with the many things we have been privileged to be a part of and the many gifts we have received. Thank you Representative Jason Murphy AND thank you Oklahoma! It is such things as this that make Eddie realize there are and have been some wonderful blessings...his life took a different turn when he was injured...BUT a lot of it has been better than he ever dreamed!
PS.....see, I even learned how to add a picture!

Monday, May 5, 2008


If you could see me would see that my feet are not touching the ground! Earlier in the week I was one sad lady when I tried calling a very special Marine....and got "sorry this number is no longer in service". I could only hope that our paths would one day cross again as they had several times since that first time we met at Walter Reed.

But life goes on right! AND so Saturday came and we were going to the 5th annual Grit-together at SGT Grits Marine store in Oklahoma City, OK. We always enjoy these parties at SGT Grits. Each year since the book was published we have been invited to sign books...a great way to sit in one spot and be able to talk to most of those attending the party! We enjoy talking to old friends and making new ones! Kind of reminds me of a Girl Scout song we learned "Make new friends and keep the is silver and the other is gold". I can tell you we have lots of "silver" and "gold" and we cherish every friendship. Many came by to tell us how much they enjoyed the book...some tell us how they loaned the book out and never got it back...or "FINALLY got it back. We enjoy hearing thier stories and visiting.

Each year SGt Grit does a challenge coin to commemorate the party. Since Eddie is a collector we made sure we got one for him! We also were so happy to pick up our order of our own challenge coins that are designed to go along with the book. You can see a picture on our book web site. Eddie has so many coins we need to purchase another container for display! You can see pictures of the Grit-together and an online catalogue at .

There was another author there. Not only did I buy his book but he got a big hug from me. I have this "thing" for Corpsmen! They are special people! You see my father Charles Gaudette was a career Navy Corpsman. He served with the Marines in the Pacific in WW2, during Korea and Vietnam. He did med-evacs from Okinawa to Vietnam until he died of a heart attack in May of 1969.
AND it was a Corpsman who saved Eddie's life on that hot August day in 1965!
SO I give all the Corpsmen I meet a big hug and tell them "thanks" for all they did. John "Doc" Hutchings book is tittled The Names NOT on the Wall. His web site is .

Being with all the Marines and enjoying good food was fun...BUT the best was yet to come! Remember me telling you about my lost Marine?

The miracle! While talking with a young Marine, Tim Horton, we had met before I somehow got to talking about my Marine...and he asked me his name. He'd known Travis Greene from Walter Reed! What a small world! AND to make matters even BETTER, Tim knew how to find a number where Travis could be reached! WELL I was floating! I'm sure I was grinning from ear to ear! This was the best of best days for me! Seeing Tim again...and getting a number for Travis. I am not sure if either one truly knows what seeing them over and over again means to us. We are blessed as we see them adjusting and getting on with their lives. Injuries such as Eddie's and theirs change everything in their lives...BUT life can still be so full and so good.

It was late when we got home on Saturday....BUT I called Travis on Sunday and it was good to talk with him. I'm sure he probably didn't want me to call him "My hero". These young men as with Eddie, don't think they are heros. BUT I think they are! And Travis is so like Eddie at that age! I will tell more of that story later when I tell of our first visit with Travis at Walter Reed in 2006. Along with all of that I learned that Travis is going to school to be a teacher...
Eddie also went to school and earned his teaching certificate! (This should be a bit of a "teaser" like the media uses...tune in later to learn more about Travis).
I hope we will be able to continue our friendship for a very long time.

We hope you are enjoying our blog...and please feel free to leave comments as we love hearing from you!

Connie Beesley