Saturday, April 12, 2003

Malcolm Campbell. That's the name of the kid who died doing pushups in my boot camp class. We were having an inspection of some sort, and everybody was "on the line" at attention, when Malcolm had something wrong with his gear or uniform, something - it doesn't really matter - because the standard correction was "push-ups, FOREVER" at that time. Now, when you're 18 years old, with a shaved head, with a company commander screaming at you most of the time to teach you that you don't REALLY know everything, that's a serious punishment. It didn't matter that FOREVER usually only meant about 20 to 40 pushups at the most, the point was always made, and it certainly seemed like it really was forever before you were done. Malcolm was a very fit guy, built like a wrestler or football player, and until that day, it was concievable that he was one of those guys who could possibly really do push-ups forever. Instead, in the middle of the 4th pushup, Malcolm collapsed in a heap on the floor. The company commander reacted immediately - within a few seconds after he figured out Malcolm wasn't working some ploy to get out of doing the push-ups. He began CPR, and got the other company commander to get medical help on the way, but within a few unbelievably short minutes, Malcolm Campbell was dead. I don't know if I ever found out exactly what Malcolm died of, possibly a blood clot, or pulmonary embolism like David Bloom did, but that's not the point of this. The entire boot camp class attended his memorial service while still in boot camp, and as will always be part of military honors, "Taps" was played somberly on a lone bugle. Since the day of Malcolm's memorial service, I have not heard "Taps" one time without remembering his name, and that day in boot camp as though it just happened yesterday.

Today, I remembered Malcolm Campbell, a kid I never even really got to know, and the 3rd Infantry division of the US Army remembered 2 of their own, and a news reporter they chose to make one of their own. Sergeants Stevers and Marshall died while ensuring that their fellow soldiers could continue in the vicious battle that claimed their lives. They were both killed while delivering fuel and ammunition to the rest of their group, who were dangerously low on both, and most certainly would have lost many more had the fuel and ammunition not arrived to re-supply them. David Bloom, of course, died last week of a pulmonary embolism while travelling with the 3rd Infantry. The 3rd Infantry held a memorial service for the three of them this morning. It was a very nice service, considering the circumstances. The chaplain, the commanding officer, and several troops spoke. It was very touching to see how the guys who worked with the 2 sergeants remembered them and how David's collegues remembered him. The troops all spoke well of David as well, because he, like the rest of us embedded with the 3rd Infantry, had truly become part of their "family". I didn't know David at all, as far as I am concerned, my relationship with him was similar to that of all my "normal customers" on the ships. I do my job the best I can, but I don't go out of my way too much to really meet people. David was a mixed box to me - he was very nice when not on camera, but when he was on camera or preparing for it, the focus he had was really something to see. His passion for his work shone through in everything he did that I saw, and I am glad to have had the chance to work with him. One of the things one of the NBC shows mentioned in a memorial to David was a quote from Babe Ruth, I think. It was his reply to a reporter's question about why he played so hard in every game. His reply was something like, "because there may be one person out there who hasn't seen me play yet". The impression I'm left with from David Bloom is that he lived that quote. He was truly amazing to see work, he was at the top of his game, so to speak, and he was very good at it.

Godspeed, Sgt. Stevers, Sgt. Marshall, and David Bloom.

Today, I remembered Malcolm Campbell.

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