Wednesday, April 1, 2009

To Honor a Hero

I was all set to selfishly pontificate about some issue on my blog today when reality hit me square in the face. Today on CNN, a story close to my heart appeared out of nowhere. I got a call 15 minutes before it aired and I luckily had just arrived home in time to view it. The picture is of Marine Corps Major John Ruocco; he was my friend, and he died a hero.

I've thought of writing about this for some time, but it just didn't feel right. With the story that aired today on national television, there could be no better time. Truth be known, I've kept this image in my picture directory at the top of the page on my computer since the spring of 2005. By doing this, I can be sure to view it every time I travel to that file.

John is the younger brother of the man who served as the; "best man", at my wedding. John's brother, Joe and I did everything together as kids. My wife and I just went to dinner with Joe and his wife, Helen last week and had a great time. I don't think I've ever seen, in my experience, two brothers that were closer than John and Joe. These brothers were years apart, but connected in every way. John naming his first son; Joey, is testament to that fact.

I never had a brother and I always felt that the Ruocco's were my brothers. While Joe and Nick were near to my age, Neil and John were much younger. Even with the age difference, our families were always together. Hunting, fishing, baseball, football, basketball, water skiing and working together is how we grew up. Heck; we even got into trouble on occasions, Joe and Nick broke my wrist one time by accident while we were wrestling. I got even and beaned Joe with a rock on the back of the head, by accident. We all survived until John was taken from us following a tour in Iraq.

Each of the brothers became very successful fulfilling their own dreams. Their parents, Nick and Mary, have been an integral part of my life since I was 7 years old. They not only supported their own children in their careers, they supported me in my career. John made a decision to enter the military and defend his country. He didn't have to enter the military, the draft was behind us. I faced the draft and was 1A my last 2 years of college, but I always joked that this was the only lottery I ever won. John was never looking for a way out and gave his life to his country; and for that, I am eternally grateful.

For those that may doubt the reality of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, get an education. Veterans deserve our full attention and understanding. For families that have suffered the loss of a loved one that may be related to Post Traumatic Stress, there is a great organization called "TAPS" (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors) that is there to help.

To view the CNN broadcast regarding the heroism of Major John Ruocco and his family (click here).

Thank you John. Thanks to all of the veterans that have sacrificed to make us safe.



  1. Wow, I remember the funeral. That's quite the story. A tearjerker.

  2. Tom, didn't know that about John Ruocco. As you know, he and I spent days, and days, and days together as children!! I think the greatest travesty of our generation is watching professional athletes make tens, if not, hundreds of millions of dollars, while our nations "treasure", our soldiers, make nickles and dimes. I think our nation has forgotten the meaning of the word "treasure".
    So great, I may be able to throw a ball through a hoop from 40 feet, big f%*#ing deal! John Ruocco will never even get to pick up a "basketball", because he choose to pick up his nickle and dime check to protect all Americans!!!!!!!!!!! Makes me sick!
    Say hi to Sandy!!!!! M.H.

  3. Great story. I was close to a Vietnam war veteran that experienced intense PTSD. Thank you for your comments.

  4. Hi Tom, this is Jon. Thanks for that link to the CNN story.