Tuesday, January 19, 2010

And may God rest both of their souls

I've just read the eulogy said at the funeral of the late Colonel Donald "The Great Santini" Conroy USMC (Ret), written by his son, the author Pat Conroy. I strongly suggest you read it, as well. It's classic.

Here's a bit concerning the matriarch of the clan;

During the Cuban Missile Crisis, my mother took me out to the air station where we watched Dad's squadron scramble on the runway on their bases at Roosevelt Road and Guantanamo.

In the car as we watched the A-4's take off, my mother began to say the rosary. "You praying for Dad and his men, Mom?" I asked her. "No, son. I'm praying for the repose of the souls of the Cuban pilots they're going to kill."
And just for the helluvit, here's a bit more;
Here is how my father appeared to me as a boy. He came from a race of giants and demi-gods from a mythical land known as Chicago. He married the most beautiful girl ever to come out of the poor and lowborn south, and there were times when I thought we were being raised by Zeus and Athena. After Happy Hour my father would drive his car home at a hundred miles an hour to see his wife and seven children. He would get out of his car, a strapping flight jacketed matinee idol, and walk toward his house, his knuckles dragging along the ground, his shoes stepping on and killing small animals in his slouching amble toward the home place. My sister, Carol, stationed at the door, would call out, "Godzilla's home!" and we seven children would scamper toward the door to watch his entry. The door would be flung open and the strongest Marine aviator on earth would shout, "Stand by for a fighter pilot!" He would then line his seven kids up against the wall and say, "Who's the greatest of them all?" "You are, O Great Santini, you are." "Who knows all, sees all, and hears all?" "You do, O Great Santini, you do." We were not in the middle of a normal childhood, yet none of us were sure since it was the only childhood we would ever have. For all we knew other men were coming home and shouting to their families, "Stand by for a pharmacist," or "Stand by for a chiropractor".

Let me give you my father the warrior in full battle array. The Great Santini is catapulted off the deck of the aircraft carrier, [the USS] Sicily. His Black Sheep squadron is the first to reach the Korean Theater and American ground troops had been getting torn up by North Korean regulars.
Let me do it in his voice: "We didn't even have a map of Korea. Not zip. We just headed toward the sound of artillery firing along the Naktong River. They told us to keep the North Koreans on their side of the Naktong. Air power hadn't been a factor until we got there that day. I radioed to Bill Lundin, I was his wingman. 'There they are. Let's go get'em.' So we did."

I was interviewing Dad so I asked, "how do you know you got them?" "Easy," The Great Santini said. "They were running - it's a good sign when you see the enemy running. There was another good sign." "What was that, Dad?" "They were on fire."


Blogger Former Altar Boy said...

Ahhh, the good all days when kids knew America was the greatest country on earth and that Catholicism was the One True Church founded by Christ and there was no salvation outside of it.

8:24 AM  
Blogger Bonum, Verum, Pulchrum said...

Wow, they don't make many warriors like that any more. Imagine what the modern media would say to some of the things he said.

6:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was most wonderful. I was quick to copy the entire eulogy and send to all my veteran friends. Thank you and Thank you, Great Santini for your service to this country.

6:38 PM  
Blogger Vir Speluncae Catholicus said...

You'd be shocked as to how many Marines present day are just as hard core.

7:26 PM  
Blogger Adeodatus49 said...

You'd be shocked as to how many Marines present day are just as hard core.

Well the Marines learned long ago to thrive during lean times (i.e., under resource constraints) and hard times (i.e., during war). And they never bought into those damned, knit, polyester, and certified navy twill uniforms. I would personally desire to castrate the Navy Admiral that bought into this crap!

9:53 PM  
Blogger Mary Rose said...

His mother's response (while praying the Rosary) reminded me of Queen Gorgo's response to the Messenger in "300."

Messenger: What makes this woman think she can speak among men?
Queen Gorgo: Because Spartan women give birth to Spartan men. (And my thought: "Who will efficiently kill men like you.)

Stand by!

Great post. (And God bless our military!)

8:41 AM  
Blogger Helen said...

The Military in our One Nation, Under God is second to no one on Earth

God Bless the U.S.

10:35 PM  
Blogger Fr. Paul said...

When there is a "certain trumpet call" no one flees but rushes to the sound of battle. That's what we Catholics need to remember about our Faith and how we ought to react to the uncertain call that seems to be ringing in the ears of our countrymen.

9:42 AM  

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