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  #1  
Old 07-15-2008, 10:08 AM
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Bad Day. My best friend died.

My best friend for the past 35 years died yesterday. I first met Mike way back in the early 70's after we each got out of the service. I had just finished college after serving in the Navy. Mike had returned from Vietnam with a plate in his arm and at the time was a pilot for a local commuter airline.

In the Army, he piloted a Huey AH-1G gunship with the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile)





Regard your soldiers as your children, and they will follow you into the deepest valleys.
Look on them as your own beloved sons, and they will stand by you even unto death!"
- Sun Tzu, the Art of War


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ycK9uNdA_g

Mike spent his career flying small commercial aviation aircraft. When he gave that up, he went to work for a private company which was working on testing a new ATC system at the Hughes FAA technical Center in Pomona NJ. After Sept. 11, 2001, he helped write and update the federal Air Marshall training manual and also served as an Air Marshall training instructor.

Man, we really had a blast together in our younger days when we both were single. We looked a lot alike and people always thought we were brothers. Well, we were, but we weren't. He was always there when I needed him, and I hope he felt the same.
I will miss him greatly.

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there, I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow
I am the diamond glint of snow

I am the sunlight on ripened grain
I am the gentle autumn rain

When you awaken in the mornings hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
of quiet birds in circled flight
I am the soft stars that shine at night

Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there, I DID NOT DIE

Author Unknown


Last edited by dynalow; 07-15-2008 at 11:03 AM.
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  #2  
Old 07-15-2008, 10:14 AM
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Jim, I'm very sorry to hear this... I lost my best friend 5 years ago this Nov. We grew up together and I, being an only child, looked at him as a brother. I presided over his funeral - the hardest thing I've ever done especially as I gave the internment at the graveside and touched the casket for a final time, the closest I would ever be to him again.

My life will never be the same.

He was a flying buddy and I wanted to place in his casket, a picture of us we had taken in front of his copter but I couldn't find it.
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  #3  
Old 07-15-2008, 10:15 AM
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I'm sorry to hear that, Jim. Old friends are the best. I know you'll miss him.
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  #4  
Old 07-15-2008, 10:16 AM
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Jim, I can't say I know how you feel, but I feel for you.
Hang in there and consider yourself lucky to have had such a friend.
Chuck.
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  #5  
Old 07-15-2008, 10:39 AM
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My deepest sympathy.
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  #6  
Old 07-15-2008, 10:41 AM
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Sorry to hear that. No one ever gets used to funerals.
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  #7  
Old 07-15-2008, 11:08 AM
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Sorry to hear the news D, will he have a military funeral?
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  #8  
Old 07-15-2008, 11:12 AM
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Dynalow, I remember you mentioning Mike in the Fourth of July thread and I am sorry to hear this news. My condolences.
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Last edited by Chad300tdt; 07-15-2008 at 11:23 AM.
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  #9  
Old 07-15-2008, 11:20 AM
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Sorry for your loss.

Make sure you tell any family he left behind how much his friendship meant to you.
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  #10  
Old 07-15-2008, 12:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Howitzer View Post
Sorry to hear the news D, will he have a military funeral?
I asked his wife that yesterday when she called me with the news. She wasn't sure what he would want. I called the local Veterans Office (a county govt. office) yesterday and asked them about the Veteran's cemetary they have here for county residents. She said the funeral home would provide most of the preliminary details about what was needed DD-214, drivers license, marraige license.

I don't know too much about military funeral arrangements. When my father (USCG O-6) died, my youngest brother took care of that and arrainged for gravesite honors.

Mike was a WO2. I don't know where to find out what type of honors he's entitled to. Our local ANG Unit here (253rd Transportation) was just called up.
The closest Army post near here is Ft Dix I guess. I'm not even sure how to get a flag for the casket. I looked at the VA website yesterday, but couldn't find any help.

When I last saw him last Thursday, before he was transferred out of the local hospital and up to PA, I asked him if he belonged to any Veterans organizations. VFW? He nodded yes. Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Assn? I think he nodded yes to that too.

I will call his wife this afternoon and maybe go with her to see the funeral director. I've known him many years. He buried both my grandparents and parents. Hope he can answer some of these questions.

He had cancer in his bones, and being on a ventilator and feeding tube, his prospects were grim. No doubt a blessing his heart gave out.
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  #11  
Old 07-15-2008, 12:31 PM
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Very sorry to hear this, Jim.

I have found that oftentimes the best way to get info about such matters is to find an Ombudsman at your closest VA Hospital.

Good luck.
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  #12  
Old 07-15-2008, 12:42 PM
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Call the VA @ 1-800-827-1000 or look up your local county office. Unfortuanatly like all things VA it's a hit and miss for someone willing to help. In any event he is entitled to the VA burial benefit, I'm guess that if he was a member of those organizations a military burial would be in order.
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  #13  
Old 07-15-2008, 12:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Howitzer View Post
Unfortuanatly like all things VA it's a hit and miss for someone willing to help.
Thats why I suggested an Ombudsman--the County guys are often volunteers from a local post, who have to get with an Ombudsman or other Fed. to make anything happen. The Ombudsmen are Federal employees with a direct connection.
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  #14  
Old 07-15-2008, 12:47 PM
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You both have my blessings and prayers.
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  #15  
Old 07-15-2008, 01:24 PM
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That's kind of close -- I have a friend who was in 1st Cav, 1967-'70, IIRC. My condolences for your loss.

B

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