On this Memorial Day, I am thinking of Cpl. Wayne Gregory Scrimshaw, a fellow Marine. I’ve been thinking of him since June 13, 1969. Thinking especially, of all the things I have been able to do with my life, and how his was cut short. Every Memorial Day, and periodically throughout each and every year since then I think of him. In some ways, he has been an inspiration for me.
Although we never met, we served together in Vietnam. He was serving in a sandbagged bunker dug into the side of a hill at Firebase Vandegrif in the Vietnamese highlands, while I was stationed at the airbase at Quang Tri many miles away.
Cpl. Scrimshaw was from Lakeland, Florida. In 1969, he was 22 and married. In June of that year, he was getting ready to leave for Hawaii to meet his wife for some R&R (Rest & Relaxation). I was scheduled to fly to Vandegrif to relieve him. We talked on a field phone a few times between Vandegrif and Quang Tri in preparation for his departure and my arrival.
Although I did replace Cpl. Scrimshaw, it came much too soon as a result of a terrible accident that resulted in his passing. Although it’s been nearly 49 years since we served together, it is as if it was yesterday.
I’m thinking of Cpl. Scrimshaw today, and probably will think of him for the rest of my life. Perhaps we will finally meet some day. I would consider that an honor.
I’m well aware that Cpl. Scrimshaw’s is but one story as we celebrate this Memorial weekend honoring those who have served and sacrificed. In the hustle and bustle of life, and the celebration of holidays, we might be excused if the meaning sometimes gets lost. Cpl. Scrimshaw is my reminder.