Claude Darius Alexander
West Point, 1969
Be Thou At Peace
Posted by Meg Alexander (on behalf of Bill Yonushonis) on November 7, 2007:
Sorry that I am not able to be there with you today. My health is such that I cannot make the trip, however, I wanted to share with you a few moments that made our knowing each other so important to me.
From our first days in C-1, you kept me stable, in-line and focused. In a quiet unassuming way, you managed to stretch and pull the best from me and those around you. Everyone you touched knew that they were blessed knowing you. In your quiet way you provided a bulwark of stability, of fortitude and dependability that influenced us all.
As a child, my son Chris had a book entitled Crispian’s Crispian- a one of a kind dog who was “his own person.” Crispian marched to a different beat and exuded confidence, self reliance and much love towards others. Ranger Buddy that was you. You were a soldier’s soldier, a West Pointer’s West Pointer and truly, a dependable great friend.
The problem was that you couldn’t drive worth crap. I don’t know where in the Midwest they produce lead feet, but you had one. Who in their right mind would buy a 1969 corvette then goose it up so it would make more noise and go faster than it was supposed to. Putting those silver tubes on the side stuffed with c-ration cans to muffle the sound worked on FT Bragg, but didn’t help you in rural NC, where it attracted every sheriff within earshot. I remember getting a late night call from some NC judge asking me to verify that you did indeed graduate from West Point. It seems to my distant recollection, that going up I-95 to NYC, you hit a speed trap and decided to outrun the locals. The local judge thought that you were running to Canada. Somehow you convinced him that you were of outstanding character (how… I still don’t know) and after my verification, he released you under the stipulation that you would deliver to him the following week your WP ring so he could see solid evidence of your attendance and graduation from our fine institution. And you never did learn to grow avocado trees from seeds. Having skinny 4 foot tall avocado trees grown from seeds tied to bamboo sticks with 2 leaves per plant did not mean you had a green thumb. But, I have to admit that you were the best one-legged skier in the 70’s. Before rehab became the norm, you were ahead of the game and would later influence other soldiers at Walter Reed who were dealing with their own rehab, providing them with your example and the strength they needed.
You were a Ranger Buddy’s Ranger Buddy. Having been tasked with the responsibility to carry me as your Ranger Buddy through Ranger School, you did just that. Toward the end of the daily run, we would make a sweeping turn and head uphill towards the Ranger obstacle course. At the top of the hill, about a 1/2 mile away, on the left, up in the air, was the back half of a Chinook helicopter from which we learned to rappel. We would start in the front on each run and by the time we hit the hill, because of me, we were in the rear of the formation. As we made the turn, you would make sure that I saw the Chinook and beat it into my head that if I could make the Chinook, we could make it home. What was then a little push has remained with me through life. Since then, whenever things have gotten rough, I’ve reflected on the Ranger hill and looked toward your Chinook, knowing that if I can only make it to the bird, I’ll have it made.
God Bless you Ranger Buddy, we are going to miss you.
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