My beloved husband passed away peacefully at the Veteran’s Home in Tucson, Arizona.
He served as a United States Navy Corpsman in the Vietnam war. For those unaware, they are often referred to as “Doc” because they are specifically trained in combat and field medicine, safety and battle injury on front lines with the U.S. Marines.
He also served on the Navy ship the USS Benner which on 26 February 1967 endured 116 enemy rounds of fire and was disabled twice before reaching safety.
He was awarded the Vietnam Campaign Medal, A First-Award National Defense Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, A Silver Star, Two Bronze Stars and Meritorious Unit Commendations.
Over time he became 100% Combat-disabled due to PTSD and Agent Orange exposure. He continued to work as a Physician’s Assistant and rural outreach “Doc” for rural poor and First Nation individuals, earning chickens and eggs and friends along the way.
He became involved with the incredible, controversial and next-in-line for sainthood Dorothy Day and worked with her and others in social justice through the Catholic Worker Movement. He walked the homeless camps in Niagara Falls, New York in the freezing winters with food, blankets, coffee and love.
While he himself was not religious per se, he practiced a combination of his Hopi and Comanche spirituality and what he learned later about Eastern ideologies such as Taoism and Buddhism in his journeys to the many countries in that region.
He never asked for a thing for himself. He was the most generous human I have ever known and truly cared for all people, even when greatly harmed by brothers in arms. He prevented rapes, assaults and treated non-combatant local citizens in Vietnam and Cambodia. He took an oath to protect our nation, and he also took one to protect lives. He lived up to and beyond both.
He was also very interested in Martial Arts, sword and knife fighting, strength building, shiatsu and bodywork. He was an artist, guitar player, singer, songwriter, poet, storyteller and only ever unleashed his deadly warrior spirit in combat or when someone he loved or was defending against harm was threatened. Never for himself. Only on behalf of others.
For several nights before he died, he told me of a dream: We are dancing on a beach, my hair is long and flowing, our kitty honey is with us floating along in an upside down pith helmet enjoying the slow ebb and flow of the passing tides.
This recurred in slight variations. Then on my birthday during Physical Therapy, he stood up for the first time in 20 years as a birthday present for my 54th, January 25th of this year in a specialized rehabilitation device. He sent me a picture. He stood for me.
He would not let go of life until I, the hospice worker and non-denominational chaplain softly spoke with him at around 10 pm. We repeated together how his Omaw (his grandmother who raised him), how I, how our kitty and all the people whom he ever touched in kindness and healing honor and love him and he will never be alone.
I told him he is with us always and that it was time for him to rest. At first he showed signs of agitation but after hearing me repeat my words, he became calm again, re-entered a semi-comatose state and died peacefully without further incident 4 hours later.
I promised I would never marry again, and I won’t ever get married again. I never thought I’d do it at all, and it was the best decision I ever made in my life.
I married a truly great man, a hero to this world, to countless world nations and human populations both allied and non combatant civilians, the United States of America, all the communities across the country where he served the poorest of the poor in times of need, his town, his home, his wife and silly little kitty who walks around at 2:00 a.m. yowling for him. It’s when he would sneak her treats without me “knowing” – but of course I knew.
It’s also the time he died.
I love you Ray, you were one of the only two people with whom I truly knew unconditional love, the other being my Mother.
May you rest always and may your loving spirit move through this world as a reminder that war and strife do not have to change the loving nature of a human’s heart.
I have been blessed to know you 30 years, and especially blessed to have married you, as our time together as husband and wife was short, it was truly a compatible, happy and honest, loving marriage.
Peaceful now we go. T43 xoxox love to you and love to me always and forever.