There's no better tribute that I can give for my friend, Roger Gardner, than to publish (with permission) a letter from another of Roger's good friends, Dean Bremkamp.
Roger was one of a kind. When we all first met a few years ago he worried that none of us combat vets would consider him a veteran. We did though. His job was as important as any I can think of while he was in the service standing guard on that God forsaken mountain top intercepting radio transmissions and watching the Russkies or anyone else causing trouble. He was a vet in every sense of the word to me.
The death of a friend is always shocking but we have to remember him as a vibrant essential human being doing all of us and unnamed others a great service with his blog and his writing. He's in a far better place than we are now, all his pain and troubles are over. He's free. In some ways I envy him. Death is never an easy thing to get past but I think Roger would want all of us to move on and remember him as he was.
This was a poem I posted as a tribute to my oldest son who passed in February this year. I think it's fitting that it should be for Roger as well;
May the road rise up to meet you, may the wind ever be at your back,
May you find old friends waiting to greet you, there on the outside track.
We're gathered together old times to remember, 'tis but for ourselves we would grieve,
So we'll sing you a chorus and bid you farewell - fair winds and a following sea.
We'll sing of 'The Leaf' and 'The Parting Glass', we'll raise up our voices in song,
No sadness today for those who have passed, we celebrate with voices glad and strong.
A catch in the throat, a tear in the eye, but no funeral dirge will this be,
We'll roar 'Auld Lang Syne' as a victory song - fair winds and a following sea.
And those of us left here will miss a true friend, who shared with us good times and bad,
Raising a glass to your memory we'll say: “We've known you dear friend – why should we be sad?”
We honor a life that was lived to the full, we honor a spirit, now free.
You'll long be remembered, whenever we say: “Fair winds and a following sea!”
Farewell my friend and God speed.