I received the following in an email yesterday. I know the gentleman who wrote these words. He is one of a kind and it is such an honor to call him my friend. I have read this email many times. Each time I wish more and more that I had met "Big John".
Another Sky Soldier has entered the gates of heaven. May God embrace him and keep him and may all of those who served with him and knew him continue to remember him fondly. And may his family remember him with great love and affection.
Rest in Peace Big John.
"Age and health are doing what the Viet Cong tried to do and failed. My way of dealing with a death is to try to remember and to tell the story as I remember it. No guarantees, but it is my story as I remember.
John was a good Soldier on Okinawa and in Vietnam. I remember a big lanky paratrooper, who soldiered and skirted trouble. He was pals with Larry P and hung with guys who had good common sense and avoided the ambushes of the Ko sisters of Naha and Kadena. The only attention that John drew in the mess hall was in enjoyment of breakfast cereal. Sometimes after night training, the company would return for a breakfast of steak and eggs. John would stack his empty cereal boxes and small milk cartons into castles on the table.
I lost track of him as I did with many, when I went on to return to advise the Vietnamese Rangers and battalion command. We were reunited briefly in California when Bill O organized an assembly. By that time the lanky paratrooper had morphed into a giant that could only be called Big John. John was many things to my recall: he was a loving father but has lost his family through divorce; he was a charitable person and cared for several elderly people in Northern Caliornia. John could have been a mountain man, had he been born several years sooner. He was a great American and took pride in his Purple Hearts and marching in veteran parades.
Sadly his health waned and I think that diabetes was one of his enemies. Nevertheless Big John fought as hard as anyone could and continually rallied, only to fall away again. He remained independent to the very end, asking for nothing and taking everything thrown at him in stride.
May he be welcomed into God's Hall of Heroes by Mo Hostak, Big Gene Rick, Jim Edwards, Gary Wright, Ruben, and all of those (173rd, 2-503 Bravo) Bulls who have gone ahead to seize the Final Drop Zone."