Quiet heroes among us

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- A member of my church recently died, and not until reflecting at his funeral were we aware of the magnitude of his contributions. The kind-hearted, good-natured quiet man always had a smile and a sense of peace about him that put you at ease. His inner strength provided solace and security in a world of disorder and confusion.

A veteran of World War II with three purple hearts, this non-precocious corporal in the Marine's presence was a quiet giant among us. His inspirational leadership from afar always put others first as he mentored and vectored them to success. A man of impeccable decorum, and a class act to the core, he taught us the essence, and the importance, of character.

Over 400 observers assembled to pay their respects at his funeral last week at the church on the hill overlooking Lompoc. At the back of the church were a dozen Future Farmers of America standing with reverence to pay their respect to their mentor. When seats were made available for them, they politely declined for they preferred to remain standing out of respect for a man that they admired and revered.

His never-ending fortitude and dedication inspired us all to a level that we could not have achieved on our own. He has taught us through his actions that we all have the capacity to make a difference. It is often said that a true measure of a man is not how he is viewed while alive, but how he is remembered in death.

This quiet hero truly made his time among us count and lived his life to a level we should all aspire to live. He showed us the way through his actions and left us rich in heart and spirit. We will never be able to repay him for the most precious gift of freedom and liberty, but we can endeavor to carry his memory on by the manner we conduct our lives. He made a difference and touched everyone he came in contact with, and he will truly be missed.

This leader among leaders unselfishly served his country and its citizens with valor, distinction, and truth of character. We can honor his memory by carrying on the principles of duty, honor, and country which were at the cornerstone of this great man. His life stands as a tribute of service among the forbearers and guardians of our way of life. His service to each of us is a living testament and tribute to how he faithfully served his country and its citizens with unwavering dedication and devotion--a man who was truly Semper Fi.