Wednesday, October 28, 2009

One that hits close to home...

One of my high school classmates - Princeton High School, class of 1974 - was a fellow named Randy Bergquist. We mostly interacted through sports, though we were never teammates. His sports - football and wrestling - were not mine, but what I really admired was his work ethic. He wasn't a big guy, playing football at about 150-160 pounds in high school, but he still played offensive guard, and he survived by being quick and strong. Whenever we watched game film, you always saw Randy firing out of his stance a half-count ahead of the snap. Great anticipation, great quickness.

In the winter he would drop down to wrestle at 138 pounds, and used that same strength and quickness to succeed.

After high school, he went straight to the U.S. Marine Corps, where he quickly stood out and at one point was selected as an embassy guard, a prestigious post in the Corps. He learned to fly, and later went to work for U.S. Customs Service, flying drug interdiction planes.

After retiring from the service, he went to work flying for a private company that provides military and government flights. In 2007, he began flying in Afghanistan for what were called "Counter Narcoterrorism operations." According to his wife Pam , he went back this year for a third tour because, he said, "We can't let the bad guys win."

On October 13 his plane crashed during a NATO surveillance mission, and Randy's body - along with that of two others - was recovered last week.

Gone at age 53, he leaves behind his wife of 27 years, an 18-year-old son and a heroic legacy of loving and serving his country. RIP, Randy.

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