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

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