Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Has It Really Been Six Years?

The WSO with a Lex challenge coin at NAS Fallon.
Yes, it has.

I dread this time of year, not because of the weather, not because spring seems so far off, no, not for any of those reasons. It's because of the memories.

The opening photo is the tail of an Israeli Kfir, which sits in front of the O-Club at NAS Fallon, in Nevada. Six years ago today, the aircraft to which that tail belonged was lost in a crash, along with its pilot, Captain Carroll "Lex" LeFon, United States Navy (Retired). I counted Lex as a friend, though I never met him.

Odd that.

Since that day I've become friends with Lex's wife, The Hobbit, his son SNO, and his youngest daughter, Kat. I've met The Hobbit in person, as well as both of Lex's lovely daughters. (I did exchange a number of text messages with SNO, oddly enough when he was at the Fallon O-Club at the same time as my daughter, The WSO, and her husband Big Time. I was trying to link them all up, too many people, The WSO was in a hurry and they never met.) Lex's family is every bit as lovely as he painted them at his blog, Neptunus Lex, which, sadly, is no more.

I came late to his blog, as I might have mentioned in the past. The only reason I found his place was in doing a search for news of an incident in Big Time's old squadron. Lex had his take on it, which matched what my son-in-law told me and before you knew it, Neptunus Lex was part of my morning ritual.

Until that day six years ago today.

A line had been crossed, things were different, time seemed to stand still for a while. I, and many others who followed his blog, were adrift. The wind had failed and we were all in the doldrums emotionally.

We reached out to each other. No one wanted that feeling of community, of shared interest, to pass into darkness. We strived to keep it alive for as long as we could. Many have fallen by the wayside, they have lives to live, and "Hey, it was great while it lasted." Many still soldier on. (So to speak, as "sailor on" just sounds odd.)

I found my mornings to be rather listless after that day. So one night I said to myself, "What the Hell, I'm going to try this blogging thing." I figured that if I couldn't read Lex, I could write myself. Keep the spirit alive I suppose.

Many of Lex's old gang showed up here (and you have no idea how humbling that is), I see some of them around the blogoverse in other places (many have their own blogs) and we have our own little bunch over at koobecaF. 400 plus we are, some of whom had not read Lex when he was still at it.

One of that group keeps the flame alive over at The Lexicans, our own little tribute blog I guess you'd call it. You can read a lot of Lex's work there, thanks to Advokaat, who printed out a lot of the old blog for to read while awaiting court cases. William searches the dusty archives in the bowels of the Internet and posts some of the gems he finds there. While not all of Lex's work survived, most of it did. Yeoman work there William. Thanks!

So yeah, I get a bit maudlin at this time of year. I've written of that day every year, save the first, that I've been blogging. You can read those posts (oldest to newest)  here, here, here, here, and here.

The man was far too young, he had far too many stories left to tell which, until we meet up "Over Yonder," must remain untold for the time being.

Truth be told, I think of Lex every day. He's up there at the top of the masthead (along with my brother from another mother Buck) so he's hard to forget for that reason alone. He inspired me to do this blog, he inspired me to actually go and start writing a book (which is a "work in progress", which y'all had a taste of back in December).

If you're reading this blog and you enjoy it, thank Lex. He's the inspiration. Once upon a time I wrote to honor his memory, which is still the case. I also did it as a form of therapy (it worked).

Now I do it because at least a couple of you seem to enjoy reading my meanderings through life. Truth be told, I enjoy writing stuff to amuse and educate you. (Have I mentioned how damned tough it was last weekend to not have my computer online? Almost as bad as quitting smoking!)

So here we are, six years later. Do I still miss him?

Yes, yes I do.

On the gripping hand, the number of new friends I have made because of Lex amazes me.

Would I have made these many friends (and met some of you in the flesh) had Lex not had his encounter with Eternity on that wind-swept high desert six years ago?

I don't know, I think yes. I hope yes. But at the very least, the friendships I have made over the past six years are the silver lining to that dark cloud of a memory which still haunts me.

That's Hizzoner, fourth from the left, with VFA-25, Fist of the Fleet, his first operational squadron.
Once upon a time...
Still hurts.

Still miss him.

Probably always will.

He was that kind of guy.

Thanks Lex. For everything.



14 comments:

  1. Well done Sarge. You said a lot for all of us Lexicans. Damn proud I am to be a member of this Clan. Strength and Courage my Brother.

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  2. A sad time, to be sure, but we will not cry. Instead raise a cheer for those still here, those newly met, and stories yet to share and tell!

    For Strength!

    /
    L.J.

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  3. Aaaah, I thought you liked him for the fighter pilot mustache!

    I started reading Lex shortly after he started writing and bumped into him a time or two. Thanks to Brig, I took the opportunity to reread much of what he wrote. He was a most excellent person and naval officer.

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  4. I, too, miss him. Every day.

    That said, I could use some help. I have the manuscript of his book which his wife sent me. I tried to contact the Naval Institute about publishing it but got no response. If any of y'all could help get them or another publisher interested in looking at it, I would greatly appreciate it.

    Thanks for the post.
    Paul L. Quandt

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    1. Hhmm, not sure on whether or not anything has been done with "Rhythms" at the Naval Institute Press. There was talk, back after the accident, not sure if it ever went anywhere.

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  5. No, Sarge, we sailors don't "soldier on"--we just continue making way.
    I didn't discover Lex's blog until after he was gone. I would have liked to have known him, even to never meet: everyone who did seems to consider themselves fortunate for having made his acquaintance, and I can't think of a finer thing anybody can say about a man who's gone to his reward.
    Well said & touching, Sarge. I don't always, but as it happens I have Guinness in the fridge. I think I'll go have one, for strength. And in honor of a man I never met, but admire all the same.
    --Tennessee Budd

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    Replies
    1. Of course, making way. It's what you nautical folks do!

      Thanks Tennessee.

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Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)