This was a very important story to me, on the front page of The Philadelphia Inquirer:
From mourner to Marine
By Tom Infield, Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writer
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION NEW RIVER, N.C. – When her Marine boyfriend died in a helicopter crash off the Horn of Africa in 2006, Lesley Reed was lost.
Then a 21-year-old college dropout working at a Target store in Jacksonville, N.C., she had met her handsome sergeant, Jimmy Fordyce, of Newtown Square, Pa., through her brother, also a Marine. The two had been together six months when Fordyce left for his third overseas tour. He planned, when he got back, to quit the service. They’d move to Philadelphia. He’d get a job; she’d go back to school.
Then he was killed.
“I didn’t have any reason to get up in the morning,” Reed said. “I had no reason to live anymore. There was nothing for me to do.”
After a loved one dies, everyone must find a way to cope. Reed immersed herself in Fordyce’s memory — by joining the Marines herself.
To her delight — and the astonishment of his parents, with whom she is close — this 5-foot-3, brown-eyed woman, with her dark hair now in a proper military bun, has been reliving Fordyce’s Marine Corps experience.
He worked on Super Stallion helicopters, so she asked to work on them, too.
Much more at the link. And here’s an interview with SGT Reed:
SGT Fordyce had been deployed with HMH-464, Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 464, Marine Corps Air Station New River, to Djibouti, a terrorist crossroads between the Horn of Africa and the Middle East. And that was where he died, when two CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters collided. There’s a lot in the Inquirer original, but the story is important to me because it looks like SPC Pico will be deployed to that Marine Corps Base in Djibouti sometime around December.
The inquirer article notes that SGT Reed serves not only as an avionics technician for the CH-53Es, but is an aerial observer in flight, and is stationed at the .50 caliber machine gun behind the pilot’s seat when in a combat zone; the article does not say that SGT Reed has had combat duty.
SPC Pico would be pretty unlikely to see combat duty in Djibouti. If that’s where she is deployed — four members of her unit, the 476th Engineering Detachment, left for Afghanistan at the end of July, and the rest are expecting Djibouti — she’ll be working as part of an Army surveying team on the Marine base.
I honor SGT Reed, for turning her grief into something great, and for her service to our country. And I’ll cross-post this on Truth Before Dishonor, where Mr Hitchcock will probably reply, very briefly, Semper Fi!
Cross posted on Truth Before Dishonor