The year was 1985, and I was a young but old 25 year old United States Marine Staff Sergeant. I had about 50 men under my charge and an Officer in Charge (OIC) name Captain Scott. We had just gotten back from a pretty hard Deployment (away from our families) and it was time to reunite with our children and those who were married, with their wife's.
Capt Scott was a prior enlisted Marine which w...e called a Mustanger. He was as good as they come and a great OIC, as he would stay out of my way when it came to leading the "troops" on the day to day routine stuff and he would handle the "Brass" stuff. I believe he was as good as doing that as I was, but he had more on his collar (rank) then I did, but we both didn't like the dog and pony show thing, but it had to be done and he did it the right way.
The other thing we did good together was, "Give us a Mission" and let us go, get out of our way, and we would get it done right and come home as quickly as we possibly could. Not one second to early, not one second to late as long as the "Mission" was complete and the job was done correctly. That also meant a boat load of paper work and gear to be cleaned upon return, plus helping the young Marines put their lives back on track (if that was ever possible). There was always something or someone we would pull out of the base brig (jail) all in a days work.
Troops, this is where Capt Scott and myself had a heart for, our young Marines. He had a gift about himself and was able to take the most impossible task and get it turned around quickly. That's what I loved about this man, his love for his Marines, their families, and their issues, and yes at 18-35 we men all have issues. His leadership meant so much to me and to all of the troops that loved him dearly... and I mean dearly, with their lives. Capt Scott was a Leader among men.
I always hated that late 2 am or 3 am phone call in the early mornings, because it seems that the information you get is not good. I remember that call, as if it was yesterday. It was a normal Friday, we all left early and Capt Scott had a date night with his wife and 3 other couples. As far as I knew, it was what they would do when the unit got back from a deployment. Eight went out to dinner, and nothing out of the normal that day or night, until the phone rang. "Staff Sergeant Jones", the Sergent Major asked, I said, "yes this is", and with little words he told me to get into work right away and forget the uniform. This is not good.
None of my family was hurt, I made that call and all were mad at me because they thought it was about me getting hurt. As I drove into the compound I could see the Commanding Officers' car, the XO car, the SgtMaj car and that was it. It didn't really hit me until I got up stairs to the offices that Capt Scotts' car was not in the parking lot. As the SgtMaj was calling me into the office to tell me what happened, Capt Scott's wife, their 4 children and the Chaplin showed up. I knew it was not going to be good news, and then it hit me hard, real hard.
Capt Scott had hung himself and his wife found him at 1:00 am in their home. Why you ask would a young man with it all going in the right direction do this kind of thing, we will never know, that's why its the silent killer. I will always know him as a great leader, man and a great Marine Officer that loved his family and men. He was really hurting to take his own life. This is the time if you know or have a loved one on Active duty or a Veteran. ASK the question, "How are you doing?" Pass out this number (800)-273-8255 press 1 "It's your call" this is a "Crisis Hot Line." all calls are confidential.
note: I only used Capt Scott's first name, not his last.