Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Who They Are, Part I


It's been asked by a few of you, "Who are those folks?" That is, the people up on the masthead, who are they, why are they up there? Well, it's something I've been meaning to get to for probably a couple of years. Our FNG Beans raised the topic again, as did our old friend over at HMS Defiant. So here we go. (And yes, you lot in the back can quit mumbling "it's about time.") First and foremost, the two gentlemen who are the real reason why you're here reading this. Guys I counted among "the best friends I never met," to quote the chap on the left. Welcome to Part I of "Who They Are." (Just too much to convey in one post. Gomen nasai.)

The man on the left is Captain Carroll F. "Lex" LeFon, Jr., United States Navy (Retired). He had a marvelous blog, Neptunus Lex, which, sadly, is gone, though its echoes linger on at The Lexicans. Career Navy, Annapolis graduate, fighter pilot, blogger, and a fine husband and Dad. A man's man, a gifted writer whose days on this Earth were cut short on a snowy day at Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada. Nearly out of fuel and certainly out of options, Lex almost got his bird down, but it was not to be. He lost his life doing one of the things he loved, flying fighters.

I first ran across his blog when searching for information on some rumblings coming out of my son-in-law's squadron, back in 2011. Lex had a great take on what was going on, let's just say that there was a whole lot of political correctness going on, honorably retired aviators getting letters of admonishment added to their files, etc., etc. Big Navy did not cover itself with glory. Something they seem to have become quite adept at as of late. (Though Big Navy is still head and shoulders better than Big Air Force, my old gang.)

I would read Neptunus Lex every day, it was a part of my morning ritual to check it out while sipping the morning coffee. The day Lex died was devastating for many, even for the many who only knew him through his writing. I cannot begin to imagine what his wife and kids went through, knowing them now as I do (a nicer group of people you'll never meet).

After a few days I realized I needed something, I supposed that eventually I would have moved on, forgotten all about blogging and found some other thing to occupy my mind. For some reason I decided to take up blogging myself. I suppose it's rather like war in the old days, there's a guy carrying the banner, the guy to rally to when things go completely to Hell, if he goes down, you pick up the banner and continue the fight. Metaphorically speaking of course. So I started this blog you are reading at this very moment.

Such as it is.

Lex inspired me to start writing, all y'all keep me at it. It's fun on its best days, therapeutic at times, and let's face it, I like to write. I'm sure there are days when it's more fun for me than it is for you.

Now that fellow on the right is Master Sergeant Norman "Buck" Pennington, United States Air Force (Retired). Also a blogger, he was a huge supporter when I first started writing, always checking my grammar, chastising me on comma placement, and always providing encouragement and ideas. His blog, Exiles In Portales (EIP) still exists. Every now and then one of Buck's sons will post something, one of Buck's last wishes was that they try and keep EIP up as a going concern. The boys try, but they're both serving officers, one Navy, one Air Force, and families of their own, so it's hit or miss.

Buck's passing was, like Lex's, out of the blue. While Buck had medical issues (if you're past 60 you probably know what I mean) it was nothing that seemed imminently dangerous. But one day Buck posted that he was having trouble breathing (I believe he had COPD). A couple of days later we learned that he was gone.

Buck and I corresponded frequently, he made one trip to the East Coast when I knew him, I thought seriously of heading down to Virginia to meet up with him. My own medical issues nixed that idea. "Next time," we both said. Well, next time won't be in this life.

So top of the masthead, the home of heroes I like to call it, though truth be told, the masthead ain't big enough to hold all of my heroes, the two fellows who grace the top of the blog, Lex and Buck. There would be no blog if it wasn't for them. They were family in many ways. I miss them dearly.

I'll get to those other guys, and one dear lady, in the days to come. All heroes in one way or another, some of them paid the ultimate price for their service. All of whom I remember in my own small way.


34 comments:

  1. Thanks for posting this Sarge, fills me in on what little or next to nothing I know about this enterprise of yours.

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  2. Lex's blog was always the FIRST blog I read in the morning, even before Instapundit. He was always (will always be) much better than I at describing things, not only aviation, but life in general. It was definitely an "Aw Shit" moment when I read of his accident on Insty.

    I remember one of Buck's last posts where he was complaining about breathing difficulties and VX ordered him to the hospital. Without that, I think he might have passed alone in his home. That would have been tragic. One of the MANY reasons I like this blog and its readers.

    Wish he were still around to help me with my commas. Wouldn't have Proof riding my butt if so.

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  3. What amazes me-as I have been reposting Lex’s posts-is how much people still around the world are reading them.

    Resurrect any other long dormant blog and how many people would be interested in posts 10 years old ?

    It’s really gratifying to see something he posted that was written 10 years ago read multiple times One of his posts has been read 30,000 times.

    Was thinking about this the other night. As I read his posts he also became for me “the best friend I never met“. And that’s saying something.

    What was that quality that he had that brought that out in readers?

    I think it was his ability to openly share his life with us. And that’s why his death hit us so hard. I’m speaking as if I was around during his blog but I can imagine what it was like for you all.

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    1. Bad days. That’s what followed. Bad days. But they grow not older, as we who are left do. At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them.

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    2. And we're all grateful for what you do William. I think of you as the "keeper of the flame."

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    3. HD, those were bad days, dark days. But as long as we remember those who went before, a part of them remains.

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  4. I thought of Buck, again, yesterday, as we passed through Eastern NM on I-40.
    He and I shared many experiences separately.
    I miss our banter.

    I didn’t discover Lex until the last year.
    His wisdom and writing style were conducive to becoming addicted to his blog.


    The folks who got me started haven’t blogged in ages, and they are only occasionally on fb.
    Family, job, and kids can do that.

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    1. Yes, sometimes life will get in the way of blogging. There are a few people who used to stop by here, who had their own blogs, no more. I miss them too.

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  5. [Whispering]
    IT'S ABOUT TIME!!

    All seriousness aside, what strikes me about all the heroes (and one heroine) is this: they aren't fancy GQ models, no chiseled jaws, &c. Just plain common folks. With one uncommon trait: they all knew they were sheepdogs. And they loved their flocks and fellow sheepdogs.

    Enough to die for them if necessary.

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    1. " they all knew they were sheepdogs"

      Love that analogy. I think they'd have been proud to be recognized as such also.

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    2. Yes, there is that. It's why I remember them, and love them too.

      (Yes, it IS about time.)

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    3. I see that Juvat and I agree on the sheepdog thing.

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  6. I well remember Buck’s ‘mayday’. A bloody good bloke.

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    1. Like it was yesterday.

      Another who's passing left me stunned.

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  7. Haven't tasted the Lex waters yet. I need to do so. Anyone who has inspired so many, inspired in a good way, well, I need to jump into the pool. (Especially now that I am curious what doofus bullscat BigNavy was pulling.)

    Buck? Buck I met when reading the old posts before I jumped in to post, and re-acquainted myself with that great man during my first re-read of the old posts. I miss him, would have loved to have him pick my grammar and punctuation apart. (Yes, Buck, I know you're not supposed to start paragraphs with 'And' and other faux-pas, I'll do better.) And yet another blog I need to delve into the past to read.

    As Hogdayafternoon said, his 'mayday' series was poignant. And the passing post was hard to read. It's like losing parts of my father. So you more mature gentlemen? Take care of yourself, please?

    The bright people who post here. It attracts more bright people, which attracts me. All of you are great to me, the weird kid in the corner with a book who just didn't fit in. Thanks.

    Looking forward to the next installment.

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    1. There are days that I look at those folks up top and I kinda wanna crawl into a corner and weep silently while tippling an adult beverage. But then I realize, they wouldn't do that, so I suck it up and drive on.

      And Beans, I'm really glad you're here. It's where you belong.

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    2. As am I, Beans. As the son of a fighter pilot, you should realize "If folks ain't given you 541T!, they don't like you!"

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    3. Hhmm, 541T, ain't that the AFSC of a shoe clerk?

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  8. 🍻 to the unforgettable - may we all be remembered....for a while, at least....and make someone smile.

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  9. As a Friend and follower of both from the early days. I just have to say thanks for such an eloquent post. I also look forward to the rest of the series.

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  10. I never had the privilege of knowing Lex or Buck before they passed on to the last formation but from what I've heard and read about them I wish I had.

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  11. Ok, so I am also glad that you are doing a series on the folks at the top of the masthead. Not just because I am too lazy to comb through all the back blogs where, I am sure, you explained all of this before...like the 4 kiddos up there...like Beans, I am glad you gentlemen let me hang out in the other corner from Beans. I truly enjoy what all of you write about. It is an awesome variety of knowledge. So, all of you, take care of yourselves, so you can keep on keeping on. :)

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  12. I was always glad, after the Captain left us, to find your writings in his usual time period. Maybe I never mentioned that, as the blog format is a bit tougher to comment on while one is riding the trolley and juggling; phone, coffee and bicycle, but you filled a void when the yawning chasm beckoned. thanks Sarge,

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    1. It filled a hole for me as well, I love reading the comments here. You readers are what makes doing this fun.

      Thanks bigsoxfan.

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  13. Mutter. Mutter. Dusty... Yes, it's dusty. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

    I was blogging before I bumped into Lex. I'm an avid flight-sim player and he'd always respond to my stupid questions with excellent answers, even helping out a couple times with tactics for one of my combat flight sims.

    I read the news of his passing with the headline and before the name was released had that sinking feeling I knew the pilot.

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    1. That's exactly the kind of guy he was Angus. Good man, they don't make many like him. (I'm a flight sim fan as well, not as avid as I used to be but, oh well.)

      I still remember that day like it was yesterday, whenever I think about it, I'm there, and the damned allergies act up.

      Damn, acting up now...

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  14. I was not a "regular" at Lex's blog, but I did read and comment now and then. Buck, though, was an every day occurrence. He always read my blog and commented, and I read his and commented - for years. He came to my house on occasion, and I met him Portales. I miss him lots.

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