California’s War Dead

When I first reported to duty at Camp Pendleton they warned me that you were a former Marine and wouldn put up with any excuses from a Sailor like me. Whether or not I was a Hospital Corpsman, like you.

After finishing my first assignment, I was so exhausted I slunk back into my barracks room without telling anyone and slept for 30 glorious minutes. When you found out that I had neglected to report back to you immediately, you chewed me out so badly none of my peers would even sit with me. You made me work to earn back my respect.

That proved difficult since your skills as a medic rivaled the high ranking officers who had formal training and medical degrees. I cursed you when you weren around and I stared holes on the back of your neck. I vowed to surpass you. You never knew it, but I took your keys, snuck into the clinic at night and studied your medical notes to absorb your writing style: it was flawless, succinct, poignant and relevant to the diagnosis (which was always correct). Even your handwriting and syntax were evenly spaced and formatted to perfection. I hated and admired you at the same time.

All the mixed emotions came rushing back to me after I learned that your were shot point blank in the head. Was it inappropriate of me to briefly admire that even your death was indicative of you: flawless, succinct, and poignant?

Now, years later, I have been accepted to the University of California San Diego and will go on to medical school. You will never know the impact you had on my work ethic and love of medicine. You never sought to be my mentor and I never asked to be your student. But here we are.

When I don my white coat for the first time, I promise I will feel the pangs of regret for not reporting to you immediately to say, you.

Realizing it is my choice and my choice alone to be a Reconnaissance Marine, I accept all challenges involved with this profession. Forever shall I strive to maintain the tremendous reputation of those who went before me.

Exceeding beyond the limitations set down by others shall be my goal. Sacrificing personal comforts and dedicating myself to the completion of the reconnaissance mission shall be my life. Physical fitness, mental attitude, and high ethics. The title of Recon Marine is my honor.

Conquering all obstacles, both large and small, I shall never quit. To quit, to surrender, to give up is to fail. To be a Recon Marine is to surpass failure; To overcome, to adapt and to do whatever it takes to complete the mission.

Never shall I forget the principles

I accepted to become a Recon Marine.

Honor, Perseverance, Spirit and Heart.

A Recon Marine can speak without saying a word and achieve what others can only imagine.

I just wanted to say that although I didn know you very well, my fellow corpsman at 2/5 loved and spoke highly of you always. You had a great impact on all of their lives, and they were amazed at all of your accomplishments. I do remember hanging out with you at HM3 Jones place a couple of times, and I distinctly remember your stoic demeanor. It was as if you knew you had what it took to be the best at whatever you did. We were all very sad when we heard that you had been killed in action, (HM1 Flint was the first one to tell me), but also knew that you were a warrior, and you died as you lived; with a fighting spirit. Rest in peace shipmate. We will always remember your sacrifice brother.

I miss you daddy. i really wish you could have been here for my 16 birthday, but i know you were there. im taking care of mom and the girls just like you told me to and im getting your truck for my next birthday! sydney is kinda like me, loud and obnoxious. but suzy is so smart just like you. shes in honor roll and she is the best violinist in her grade! im really hating school, especially math. im a junior this year and im really excited! nicky is having a hard time with school but he has A LOT of girlfriends! haha. i miss you so much daddy, i cant wait until i can see you again.

I miss you so much daddy but I know you in a better place. I still have that picture of me in your converse shoes ireland. It in the middle of my shelf for everyone to see. I learned how to play violin and piano, Sydney and Isabel always ask me to learn stuff for them though. I going into 7th grade in a few weeks and I really excited. I wish you could be here to see us. Nicky is in 2nd grade and has more friends than me when I was his age! We all miss you and sometimes I think what would be happening right now if you we still with us. But things happen for a reason, right? I just hope to see you soon.

I thank you for the tremendous sacrifice that you made for this country but I wish that you could have been here for your family. You would be very proud of your children. Your parents and your brothers and sisters miss you tremendously, but they know that this is a temporary separation. I thank you again for your service, have many wonderful childhood memories of you and your siblings, know of your many accomplishments, and look forward to seeing you again in eternity. When you were serving in Iraq in 2005, so was I. You didn know me, and I didn know you. Air Force. Towards the end of my tour (December 2006), I decided to acquire a memory bracelet, much similar to a POW/MIA bracelet. When I submitted my order, I stated I don care who it is and what service they are in, I just want to remember one of our fallen who gave their ultimate sacrifice. Well, the silver bracelet the company sent me had your name on it “PO2 Cesar O. Baez, USN 15 JUN 05 IRAQ” I want you to know from one service member to another, you will never be forgotten. Ever since that bracelet arrived to me in 2006, I wear it every single day (on duty and off). I constantly am asked who the name is on my bracelet and I tell everyone that you were my fallen brother. So, rest in peace brother, and know that even complete strangers are remembering you and paying respects to you and your family on a daily basis.

With much love,

Master Sergeant Ernie Rude

Remembering you today on Memorial Day. You were the toughest SOB I ever knew. I remember when I first got to 2/5, we were on a training Mission and somehow or another some of us weren doing what we were supposed to or in the positions that we were supposed to be in and you came over and chewed everybody ass. I remember another point when a couple of people were not dispersed far enough in their fighting positions and you literally walked over, grabbed somebody by the gear and threw them into another position like a rag doll. I asked someone if you were a squad leader or platoon Sergeant or something and they said, “No, he just our Corpsman.”