On June 2, 2012, I had the great honor of being at my father's side as he passed away. While it was one of my life's most difficult moments, I was glad to be with him to the very end, and that he had the gift of passing peacefully. He valiantly battled many complications for thirteen years stemming from chronic myelogenous leukemia. Even though life slowly took away his health, he never once complained, and never gave up his fight.
That courage was demonstrated in Dad's love for his country when he enlisted in the Army National Guard at 17. He earned a commission as an officer and later transferred to the Army Reserves where he received an honorable discharge. During his service, he saw combat as a member of the 19th Special Forces Group in peacekeeping operations in Central America. While Dad was always discreet about that part of his life, he shared once with me how in the face of many dangers, he committed to himself and God that he would be the best Dad he could be and support his children in everything if He would see him safely home. I am confident that he fulfilled that promise.
Dad started his own business in his thirties after working in his dad's company as a master electrician. He encouraged me to never become an electrician like he and my grandpa, but to pursue work that I enjoy, and I've always gleaned his entrepreneurial spirit.
Dad had many passions- his family, music, Coca-Cola, American History (especially World War II), collecting plastic models and model trains. His greatest wish was that all of his immediate and extended family could live next door to each other, where we could all party together regularly. Time with family was so important to him. He got his jollies performing as a drummer, rocking out to Chicago, or big band jazz. If he couldn't be with family, friends, or perform, he'd rather be out flying. After his first unscheduled joyride in a borrowed US Army helicopter, his flight career saw an untimely end.
His larger than life personality left me and my family grieving upon his unexpected death at his young age of 52, but because of his love and the many great memories he gave me, I feel his influence in my life daily. I know I will see him again one day. Because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, I was able to say goodbye and not lose him.