Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Seven Years Gone...

For Strength
I'm not sure how many of you know who Carroll F. LeFon, Jr. was, don't know how many of you used to read his offerings over at Neptunus Lex. One thing you should know is that this blog would probably not exist had it not been for the man we knew, and loved, as Lex.

The Military Hall of Honor has this to say about the man -
Carroll "Lex" LeFon was, by his own description, a retired US Navy captain, incipient crank, rapidly aging curmudgeon and used-to-be naval aviator with over 4000 hours in fighter aircraft, predominantly the FA-18C Hornet. His operational experience included seven carrier deployments, including several in support of Operation Southern Watch, enforcing UN Sanctions in the Southern No-Fly Zone over Iraq. After commanding an operational FA-18 squadron he reported to the USS Constellation in 2001, later serving as her Operations Officer in the Arabian Gulf during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Shore tours include tours as instructor pilot in basic jet training, as an adversary instructor and as the Executive Officer of the Navy Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN).

Lex retired from the Navy in 2008, after serving as Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations and Training on two flag staffs. He was a 1982 graduate from the US Naval Academy with a BS in Political Science, with a Master of Science in Systems Engineering Management from the US Naval Postgraduate School.
The site also relates what happened on this date, seven years ago.
Carroll "Lex" LeFon was killed in a plane crash on the morning of 6 March 2012 when his Israeli F-21 Kfir fighter jet crashed in bad weather conditions near the west gate of Naval Air Station Fallon, NV; he was 51. He is buried at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego, CA.
I strongly recommend that you go over there and read the whole thing, it shouldn't take more than a minute.

But Lex was more than just a retired Naval Aviator who lost his life in a tragic accident...

He was a husband, a father, a brilliant pilot (the Navy calls 'em "aviators"), a superb writer, a man of faith, a friend and mentor to many, a leader, and a patriot.

I remember exactly what I was doing when I learned that he was gone. It was the day after the accident, the 7th of March, 2012, I was sitting in my office in Andover, Massachusetts, coffee in hand, ready to start my day, as I started every day, with a trip to Neptunus Lex. Within moments, the world stopped, everything just stopped. In a post from 2017 I reproduced what Lex's co-blogger Whisper (another Naval Aviator), wrote on that day, which you can read here.

The remainder of the day passed in a gray mist. I remember calling my daughter, The WSO, to let her know that Lex was gone, she too was a fan. All I remember saying is, "Honey, it's Dad, Lex is gone..." I really don't remember much else about that day. I remember my boss remarking that I seemed a bit distant (those who know me will know that that is a most unusual state for Your Humble Scribe to be in, normally I'm loud and jovial, emphasis on loud). When I told her that a friend of mine had died in a plane crash, she understood.

The seventh was a Wednesday, I don't recall if I went to work on Thursday or not (I was off every Friday in those days), the next few days were a bit of a blur. My morning routine was never the same after that but I found others who felt the same way.

We connected online, later many of us connected in person. We get together now and again, sometimes we gather in Sandy Eggo (as Lex was wont to call it) at the Shakespeare Pub & Grill (the official name, we just call it Shakespeare's) where Lex could often be found, having a Guinness, chatting with friends.

We've also met in Connecticut and most recently in Arlington, Virginia, not far from where The Hobbit dwells (those who know, know) two years ago...

We few, we happy few...
Every year on this date I remember the man. Today the world will stop for a bit, not like seven years ago, but there will be a moment. It will grip my soul and squeeze, just a bit. He was far too young to have been taken from his loved ones.

I started this blog roughly two weeks after that day. It helped to fill the void, it helps to keep him in my mind while I write. While I will never be as good at this as he was, it has been a pleasure, and something of an honor, to write for you all. Reading your comments has become my new morning ritual, as it were. I treasure that, believe me.

Tonight at 2000 hours local, I shall open an adult beverage and lift my glass to the memory of Carroll F. LeFon, Jr., Captain, United States Navy (retired). A mentor and a friend, gone, but never forgotten.

Damn it, I miss him. Dusty in here.

See you on the other side Lex...

The line in Latin is from a poem written by Gaius Valerius Catullus.


  1. To Captain LeFon, USN(retired), friend and so much more to you and many others, gone too soon, your toast will be shared this evening Sarge......remember! This blog has become a morning ritual for me, thanks for this, Sarge and thanks to you Captain.

  2. I found Lex's blog less than a week before he passed.

    I do have some apple brandy (for the most awesome apple pie crust ever made). I will lift a glass to Lex, and to you Sarge, for grabbing the flag before it fell, and continuing forward. My life is richer since finding your blog, and meeting the great individuals here.

    ¡Salud hermanos!

    1. That apple pie recipe sounds like it could be (should be, if not a family secret) shared. High praise to be mentioned in the same sentence as Lex.

      I got there in 2011, a post on my son-in-law's squadron got me there, his writing kept me there.

      Thanks STxAR.

  3. I have no recollection whatsoever as to how I found Lex's column. All I know is that I loved it. Reminded me of Henry Manney of Road & Track fame (infamy?). I stared at the photo of the missing man formation in confusion and then disbelief. Sat at my work desk answering customer calls all day long, tears streaming down my face. Never knew I could be so affected by the loss of someone I never met. The world has distinctly been something less since his passing and I genuinely wonder how I'll find him to shake his hand in gratitude in the hereafter...

    1. "confusion and then disbelief" - same here.

      As for finding him in the hereafter, look for the laughing, balding, fat, Air Force retiree wearing a Navy ball cap, we'll seek him together. I owe that man a Guinness.

  4. My glass of the black stuff will be raised at 20:00 GMT.
    “Absent Friends”

    1. Truly. To Absent Friends I never got to meet. Friend because, well, he brought all of you to me.

    2. And that right there is something he probably didn't foresee. 'Tis a wonderful thing nevertheless.

  5. I found Lex’s blog through Buck’s blog.
    I miss them, both.

    1. Buck is another guy I think of every day. Miss them both as well.

    2. Yes, miss Buck too! Another friend I never got to meet, even online.

      Fortunately, we have Paul to keep us on the right side of the Grammar Laws.

    3. PLQ the Grammarian (in the same vein as Conan the Barbarian, as opposed to Conan the Late Night Talk Show Host).

    4. Conan the Late Night DNC Mouthpiece.

      There, I fixed it for you...

  6. He really was Something Special, wasn't he? The Rat Story is still one of the funniest things I have ever read.

  7. Like one of the previous commenters; I don't remember how I came to read Lex's blog, but it became an every day stop. I have always been an aviation buff, and loved to immerse myself in his stories. The day his death was announced, it was like I was punched in the guts. I was numb all week.

    I have this picture buried in my computer, and every now and then it pops up. The sense of loss, for a man I never met, is just as poignant as the day it happened.

    Thanks, Sarge. For keeping the memory of a good man alive.

    Be well.

    Whitehall, NY

    1. Glad to know there are folks "out there" like you who remember Lex.

      Thanks Leigh.

  8. When my son was going thru the pipeline in Pensacola I hung on Lex's every word, every day. Not just because I wanted to learn everything I could about what it's like to be a Naval Aviator, but because his words somehow comforted me when I was afraid for my son. Thanks Lex.

    1. He had that effect.

      Your son's a Naval Aviator? God bless him.

      Thanks for stopping by Daddy G!

  9. As with other of you, I don't remember how I found Lex's site, but I stopped by at least once a day. He was a friend because that's how he treated his readers, or sometimes as a wiser older brother. To write that I miss him may be the greatest understatement I can make. "Dusty in here." Yes indeed!

    Paul L. Quandt

    1. I revisited Whisper's post from that day, and Lex's post "Streamer" from the day before. Read some of comments, saw yours. As you say, "miss him" is an understatement. It was really, really dusty today.

      Thanks Paul.

  10. So all I have is a cup of tea, but I raise it to the memory of a great man, kept green by friends and family. As long as someone still remembers him, he is not truly gone, and continues to influence folks to this day.

    Stupid dust in here...

    4000 hours in fighters!!! Just wow!!!

  11. I have wondered why I have been so affected by Lex. I didn't even read his posts until after his accident. I think - he offered a window to his world and welcomed us to it. Treated the reader as his friends, and I have no doubt he considered many of them to be so. And many of his readers considered him a friend.

    Heck, I consider him to be "the best friend I never met".

    I can only imagine how this day hit so many of you.

    I do believe we will be at his table swapping stories.

    With laughter.

    "Sport: is my favorite funny story of his. But there are so many. Found one recently that was posted by Todd years ago - Name Tags. So many good stories but even more, his inviting us into his life with all the joy and trials and occasional sorrow.

    1. There are so many good ones, hard to pick a favorite. Like you always say, he wrote from the heart.

  12. Thanks for the memories, OldAFSarge. I flew with Lex after his navy career for an outfit called Barnstorming Adventures in Sandy Eggo. I flew tours in the Travel Air biplanes, Lex flew dog fights in Varga Kachinas.
    He was as funny, and humane, in real life as he was on the page. I'd repressed the memory of his death, but always think of him as Patrick's Day, nears. "Guinness for strength," wrote Neptunus Lex. Me Bruddah, I wish I could share one with you tomorrow.
    Thanks again for reminding us how much we lost, eight years ago.

    1. Sigh, not a day goes by that I don't think of him.

      For Strength!


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