Last week marked the 7 year anniversary of the 9-11 terrorist attacks. I was inspired to create this post by EDSBS's excellent tribute to Pat Tillman on Thursday. If you have not read it, do so. We are not a political blog and this is not the place for a political debate. I don't care which side of the aisle you reside. I just want to tell you about something important to me this morning.
Today is the 42nd birthday of Lieutenant Colonel Kevin Michael Shea, USMC. It also marks the 4 year anniversary of his death after he was hit by rocket fire near Fallujah, Iraq. Kevin is buried in Section 60 Site 8002 in Arlington National Cemetery outside of Washington DC. He was a fine Marine Officer, great Husband, loyal Son and loving Father. Most of all to me -- he was my Friend.
I first met Kevin while we were both at the Marine Corps Office Candidate School in the summer of 1988. We were both over sized for your typical Marine officer candidate and became fast friends after attempting to beat each others brains out with pugel sticks in a strange competition that only Marine Drill Instructors can fully appreciate. As young Lieutenants we were stationed together at Camp Pendleton before and after the first Iraqi war. Kevin Shea is one of my heros.
Kevin Shea was also a college football player. He played for the Air Force Academy Falcons and competed in the 1987 Freedom Bowl against John Cooper's last Arizona State team. Like most service academy football players he played the game because he loved it, not because he needed it. Kevin was a classic max effort "force the option pitch and chase down the running back from behind" type of defensive end. He also played on the AFA National Champion Rugby team. Upon graduation he completed the difficult and rare cross service transfer to the Marines because the Air Force didn't have infantry officers and he "was allergic to office work".
The next time you turn on a college football game and see Navy, Army, or Air Force playing -- watch closely the passion these guys bring to the sport. I can't watch a service academy football game any more without thinking about the players in the context of Kevin Shea. What they do with what they have is amazing. What they will do is even more amazing.
Semper Fi and Happy Birthday buddy.