Tuesday, July 22, 2008

An Amazing Phone Call ~May 18, 2006

We were back in DC visiting at Bethesda Naval hospital. Eddie's publisher, Joyce Faulkner was with us. She was very moved by what she saw as we visited with our injured troops. Joyce was able to meet Travis Greene before he left for home for a visit (his story was told in an earlier blog).

While we were in a patients room, Eddie's cell phone rang. He saw that the call was coming from a 972 area code. The patient we were visiting said "That's my area code, I'm from Dallas, TX." I told Eddie it was my brother Richard's area code so perhaps he should answer the call. He answered and soon we all heard him say, "Sir"....so I KNEW it wasn't my brother! Joyce and I were VERY surprised to learn he was talking to Mr Ross Perot! I had sent him a book just a few days ago as we were leaving for our trip. He had received it, read it AND was calling us! He told Eddie that if he were injured this was the book he would want to read. Mr Perot wanted to know how he could get some books to send to the Pentagon. Eddie told him that we were in DC and could take them there ourselves if that would work. Mr Perot made a call to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs office and then had Eddie call to set up a meeting time! Since we had a picnic to attend with our troops that afternoon we set the meeting for the next day.

We set out early to be sure to be on time. As we arrived at the Pentagon, we had no idea where to park or where to enter the building. Eddie pulled into a parking lot and up to an officers shack to ask where we should park. Immediately the officer said "You can't park here". Eddie was getting his handicap parking sign up to ask where there was handicap parking and the guard said, "You can't park here with that either". The man began to give rather lengthy directions to a lot where we could park, but then said "Who are you going to see?" I handed him the telephone number of the Joint Chiefs office. He dialed the number then looked over to his partner and said, "They are going to the Chairman's office".

He then told Eddie to "follow me". We were led to a parking space up close to the building....in the lot that we "could not" park in! He then made a call and had an officer come to escort us into the building. We were led into the building, given ID badges and taken to a waiting area. A Marine was sent to take us to General Peter Pace's office. The Chairman had been called out to another meeting but we were able to meet with his staff for some time and leave 10 books to be passed out. We were each given one of General Pace's challenge coins which is in the shape of the Pentagon! (A great coin to add to Eddie's collection.)

After our visit, when we were back in the car, we just sat there for awhile telling ourselves to "remember to breathe" What an honor it had been to be inside that building! We are very blessed to have had this privilege. It has also been a privilege to have been in touch with Mr Perot. I am not sure that he even realizes how much his call and setting up this visit meant to us. He is a man who cares for our troops and we appreciate that. Some day perhaps we can tell him how much this has meant to us in person.

Connie Beesley

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Balboa Navy Hospital April 2006

In April of 2006 we went out to Southern California to visit Balboa Navy Hospital.

We were given directions to the section of the hospital where the Marines and their Corpsmen stay. As we arrived we met a young Marine in the hallway. He seemed to want to talk about some things that were troubling him so we visited with him for a while then went on to the room where the Marines were gathering for our visit.

In addition to getting to speak with the Marines, Eddie was in for another treat; a reunion with two of the people he knew from the time he was in the Navy hospital in Oakland in 1965! He was glad to see Sandy Kirkpatrick Holmes, one of his nurses and also James Greenough, a Corpsman who worked on Eddies' ward. I teased Eddie about hugging on Sandy a lot....making up for not being able to back then when he was in the hospital! It was also good to see James.
We had learned he lived in southern California when we had met him at one of Eddie's Marine reunions. You see after leaving Oaknoll hospital, James had gone to Vietnam and was assigned to the same unit that Eddie had been in...
Delta Co, 1st Bn, 4th Marines. A reporter from the local paper was there to record the reunion of these three and their visit with the Marines.

Eddie spoke to the group and then gave them all copies of his book and visited with them individually. In this group there was one female. Seeing injured females is still hard for us...but in this war they are out there in harms way as well as the men and they are being injured too.

During all of this the first young man we had met had come in and stayed close by me. We talked some more. I was glad to listen and just be there for him to let him know that we care and hopefully it helped him some.

It was a good day, a good visit. We feel so thankful that we are able to visit with our injured troops. In us, I hope they see that being injured doesn't mean you can't have a full and wonderful life. Eddie has accomplished so much and hopefully that inspires them to look eagerly to their own futures.

Connie Beesley

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

UMASS March of 2006

Time often has a way of getting away from us with very busy schedules and I just realized I haven't posted anything a while.

In March of 2006 after we visited the hospitals in the DC area we headed up to visit a friend in Chickopee, Massachusetts. We had met "Doc" Downey at one of Eddie's Marine Corps reunions. He served with the first battalion, 4th Marines after Eddie had been injured and returned state side. Doc wanted us to visit and arranged some speaking engagements for us. One of those was to be at the University of Massachusetts.

Doc was so excited when we arrived. There is such a family feeling between all Marines and also with their Corpsmen. During our visit we talked about how hard it was for those "Docs" doing all they could to save lives in the field and then loading that young Marine on a chopper sometimes never knowing if he lived or died. Eddie is one who lived and seems to represent that to all the Corpsmen we meet.

Eddie proved that he still lives by the motto: Semper Gumby (Always flexible).
All the bedrooms were upstairs...not a problem, though Doc had been a bit worried. Eddie got out of his chair and climbed the stairs!

Doc was very excited about Eddie speaking at UMASS. He had everything well planned! We followed him to the campus early so we would know where we were going even though he had classes and the meeting was later in the afternoon. Doc went to class and we wandered around the student center. We checked out the book store and of course the cafeteria. In our "wanderings" we met a young man who was a former Marine. Eddie and I told him we would be meeting downstairs later that afternoon and he should come if he could.

After lunch we met Doc at the room prepared for us. The chairs were all in order and the snacks were arranged...we were ready! It was time and no one was there. We hadn't thought much about the date we'd chosen to be there...and as it turned out it was the Friday afternoon before Spring Break! Yes, you guessed it.....most of the students were no longer on campus! After a while the young man we had met earlier arrived. He came in and we introduced him to Doc. We all sat down and Doc asked him how he was. The young man said "I'm OK". Doc said, "No, how are you really?" Somehow Doc sensed something and the young man began to cry as he said: "I've been thinking about eating my gun". As we talked with him we learned that he had been in the Marines and was injured while in training. The injury caused him to be discharged and he felt badly about no longer being in the Corps. We talked for quite a while before the ROTC instructors arrived. Since we were still just a small group we sat and talked informally for a long while.

Now some would have the same reaction that Doc felt. As we were preparing to leave he apologized that there had not been a good turn out. I looked at him and said: "Doc, don't you feel bad because this was exactly the way it was meant to be. IF there had been a crowd, Eddie would have given his talk and we may not have had the opportunity to REALLY talk to this young man....in which case he may have not talked to anyone and then carried out his thoughts of suicide.
This meeting was EXACTLY the way God intended it to be!" Another day when we felt we were in just the right place at the right time.

If we can make a difference in even one life on each trip...then the trip has been a success and we feel very thankful.

Connie Beesley