Friday, October 07, 2005

A Rememberance of Fallen Friends

Robert Elortegui 1973-2005
Thomas Brantley 1978-2005
Nestor Otero 1978-2005

Though the words to the following song do not necessarily reflect the circumstances of my friends' deaths, I think of it when I think of them.

JAR (Jason Andrew Relva)
by Mike Pritchard

My friend drove off the other day
Now he's gone and all they say
Is you gotta live it up while life goes on
But now I see I'm mortal too
I can't live my life like you
Gotta live it up while life goes on

And I think it's alright
That I do what I like
Cause that's the way I wanna live
And so I give
And I'm still giving

Now I wonder about my friend
If he gave all he could give
Cause he lived his life
Like I live mine
If you could see inside my head
Then you'd start to understand
The things I value in my heart

You know that
I know that
You're watching me

Gotta make a plan
Gotta do what's right
Can't run around in circles
If you wanna build a life
But I don't wanna make a plan
For a day faraway
While I'm young
And while I'm able
All I wanna do is...

On September 28, 2005 I lost three friends and colleagues in a helicopter crash. I had known the two pilots for 2 years and the AW for about 9 months. My last work day I saw Mr. Elortegui and he was so full of life. He just announced to the shop (I was a PR) that he was engaged. We were surprised, but happy for him. I'll never forget his smile as he wished me luck in my post-Navy life. His smile was one of those that lit up a room. He was the kind of person who could cheer you up even if the world seemed like it was ending. Mr. Brantley was really nice as well. He and one of the other pilots looked a lot alike and checked in at the same time and I called them twins. When I'd see him, I'd tell Mr. Brantley, "Sir, I saw your twin today." He'd laugh and deny that they looked anything alike. I did not know Otero (as he liked to be called) very well. I trained him , and he was a nice guy. But what I do remember is that when he was with a certain other AW, all hell broke loose. These two would horse around and act like little kids and drive me crazy. The day I left I found out Otero was married.
At their memorial there were three helmets with their photos next to them. I could not look at them w/o crying. When the bagpipe player played Amazing Grace, I lost it. I still cannot talk about it w/o getting emotional. This was my squadron's second Class A mishap in 19 years. I am haunted by images of these three. When I see someone who resembles them, I look twice and then realise that I won't see them again on this side of Heaven. When I close my eyes, I can't get Mr. Elortegui's smile out of my head. I will miss them very much.

2005 has been a hard year filled with losses. In March, I lost my good friend and paintball buddy Alan. He was murdered. Then last month, I lost three friends in a helo crash. Two weeks prior, one of my husband's sister squadrons lost two pilots in a crash. 2005 is my 1983. In 1983, my mother (and I) almost lost my dad to a brain hemmorage and stroke. It was a very hard year for my mother. She had to care for me (I was 2) and my dad who needed a lot of care. Wake me up when September ends.


I'm Kate... said...

Hi .... I also knew Rob Elortegui, very well. His smile was completely infectious, and drew me in as well. He was simply one of the most amazing people I had ever (and still to this day) met. I will never forget him. I too am haunted by his smile. It is often that I see his face in a crowd and have to double-take to make sure it isn't really him.

I'm so sorry about all the losses you experienced that year. I hope your heart is healing, although I know that all those who are lost can never be replaced. Be blessed, my friend.

Rosales Family said...

Hello...I knew Robert from high school we both played together on the football team. Robert was a warm hearted person, he was fun to be around..he always had a smile...We are having our football reunion july 2009 and are trying to find anyone that can help us located his parents...if you can help email me at thanks

Ruthy said...

I'll never forget when Robert 1st moved to Miami. That smile that you've all spoke about, was an instant winner among all the girls in our school. I was an athletic trainer for the football players & spent a lot of time with Rob. He was my best friend... And of course a huge crush grew on my part. He was an amazing guy with a great family. We kept in touch for a few years when we graduated & then lost touch. It hurt so much when I heard he had passed but I can only imagine God needed someone as gracious as Rob! I love you Rob... Wish u were here!!