Posted By RichC on May 29, 2012
I didn’t want to let this story get away from me so I will post it after Memorial Day. Taylor had a few friends over this weekend and they enjoyed the sunshine, played football in the rain, cooled off in the pool and watched a couple movies. Brenda and I are thankful our kids “still” come back home and glad they don’t mind being around us; we even included them in our cookout last night – and thankfully we had enough food to feed them! That said, I do get a little “old man ornery” once in a while … something I regret (I need to work on that.)
But that’s not the point of this post. A friend of Taylor’s, Joe St Romain, served as a Marine and left the group for a few hours to take care of a personal Memorial Day obligation. Although Joe (now in college) still enjoys what we all take for granted, he also has a deeper understanding of what our freedom and liberty costs. I’m including the story that he shared with his Facebook friends … Taylor read it to us … and I wanted to include it here. The story is about Joe’s friend Edwin Gonzalez – you’ll get the point after reading below.
So today is memorial day. It’s the day where we honor those who fell, so we could live free. I would ask that you take a few minutes of your day, and read this, so that you can learn just a little bit about my friend, Edwin Gonzalez.
My story with Edwin begins at Marine Corps base Camp Lejeune, North Caroline. I had changed duty stations, and was checking into 1st Battalion, 8th Marine regiment, a Marine Infantry unit. I was assigned to Bravo Company, 1st platoon, which is where I met Edwin for the first time. Edwin was not a Marine. He was a Navy Corpsman. See the Marine Corps does not have medics, or people that work within the medical field. Instead, we use Navy personnel to fill those billets within our ranks. The difference between Edwin, and most other Navy Corpsmen was that he had chosen to go “to the green side,” which basically means, he went to a school specifically designed to train Corpsman to work, live, and fight with Marines.
From the moment he introduced himself to me, I knew I like the guy. He had a sincerity about him; you just knew that he genuinely gave a shit about you. Talking to Edwin, I never felt like he was just going through the motions. The first time we ever really hung out off base, was at another buddies house out in town. Everyone was drinking, and I was getting to meet most of the guys in my Platoon for the first time. I spent a long time talking with Edwin. Getting to know him, and vice versa. He told me he hailed from Miami, Florida, where “the bitches were so fine.” He told me about all these near death experiences he miraculously survived growing up, earning him the nickname “Superman,” amongst his friends. I later found Edwin that night, passed out on the couch. As any good Marine buddy would do, we all proceeded to draw dicks, and other vulgar words and pictures all over his body. I used to have a video of this, but it has long since been lost.
Me and Edwin became close in the months leading up to our deployment. In Iraq, we became brothers. Edwin, and those who I served with there, are as family to me as my own flesh and blood. Me and Edwin talked about everything. Where we came from, where we wanted to go. All the dumb, fucked up shit we planned to do when we got back to the states, and all the different varieties of alcohol we were going to drink in excess (Edwin was partial to Corona). We went and lifted together, ate together when we could, sat around and watched movies together. We became great friends, but then again, you couldn’t meet Edwin and not become best friends with him. Thats the kind of guy he was. He would do anything for you. A real shirt of his back kind of guy.
Even before our deployment was over, rumors started to spread of our next deployment. Everyone was saying “Afghanistan.” See for me, this was the end of my service. I would be out of the Marines three months after we returned to the states. Edwin would follow shortly after. We started talking about re-enlisting, or at the very least, extending our contracts to deploy again, this time to Afghanistan. We said we would do it. We both would. Edwin’s extension happened rather quickly, and he was all set to re-deploy with 1/8 once again. I, however, waited until I got back to the states to start the process of extending my contract. Trouble was, as soon as freedom was in sight, and I had beer to drink, and girls all over the place, I never actually extended. College seemed way more appealing. I had backed out of our pact, left the Marine Corps behind me, and moved back to Ohio. Edwin stayed with 1/8, and when the day came, deployed with them to Afghanistan.
Hospital Corpsman Edwin Gonzalez, who was 22, was killed in action on October 8th, 2010, while conducting combat operations in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan.
There is a hole on this earth. It exists where Edwin once filled it. There is a whole in my heart, which will remain until the day that I die. I have yet to know a better man than Gonzo, nor do I ever think I will. Even to this day, and as I write this, I find myself overwhelmed, and fighting back the tears. In a way, I blame myself for what happened; as irrational and illogical as that may be, anyone who has served understands this type of guilt. I’m sure I always will blame myself to an extent, even though I know there was nothing I could have possibly done. Every day I think about Edwin, and the man he was. Every day I live my life to very best I can possibly live it, so that I may make him proud. I have to live my life for two now, to be the man that he never got the chance to be. However, no matter who I am, or what I become, I will only ever be close to half the caliber of person he was. I love you Edwin Gonzalez. More than this world will ever know. You will always and forever be Superman to me. Rest easy brother. I will see you again in time.
This Memorial day, wherever you are, whatever you are doing, and whoever you are with, I would ask this small favor of you: Please spend a few moments in silence, and think about my friend Edwin, as well as all the men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for this country. They are the are the reason that this nation has not fallen into darkness. They are the reason we live free. Greater love hath no man that this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
Your measure is not found in how much time you have on this earth, but what you do with the time that you have.
Happy Memorial day everybody.
Thanks for sharing this Joe … and thanks for your service.