In 1987 I was laid up in Camp Pendleton Naval hospital when I man knew as my grandfather comes in to check on me. Papa as we once called him had disapered from my life when I was very young. The particulars are not that important and I do no know them.
Anyway he comes in and asks two questions how are you and what do you need? My reaction is I have nothing no clothes only the hospital PJs, a nasty dirty uniform, and a toothbrush another Marines wife had brought me. Also I thought I was going to die because a couple of days before I had.
Well the fact that my unit had not gotten me any personal effects, no NCOs or officers had checked on my condition quite frankly infuriated him. He says hang on a minute I need to make some calls. I wonder who he is going to call yes he was a retired 1st Sgt in the Marine Corps and had been there and done that but what could he do for a PFC nobody. I hear him go out to the nurses station and ask to borrow the phone. Next thing I hear is him say Al this is Dick Keyes and I have a grandson out here in Pendleton that needs some help. Al, being Commindant Gray "oh holy crap" I think he just called the CMC office about me. The next thing I know he is talking to the SGM of the Marine Corps has a nice cordial coversation with him as well. He then proceeds to call the Commander of Camp Pendleton talks to him for a few minutes and comes back into the room. The other Marines in the ward have at this point heard parts of his coversation which was laced with some more colorful language has them all staring at him and me. Within two hours a Captain has my seabag and informs me he will be my contact until I can get out of the hospital. He does not seem real happy about the assignment but here he was. Apparently Commidant Gray started the ball rolling down hill on the officers side while the SGM of the Marine Corps started it on the NCO side because about an hour later a Gunnery Sgt comes in and asks if there is anything we need he is mainly addressing my grand father.
Well come to find out that my grandfather had been the then Commindant 1st sgt and had stomped some of the same mud as the SGM of the Marine Corps. It always comes back to it is not what you know but who you know.
To bring this story full circle today we had a family reunion of sorts. My grandfather who had been gone so long has moved less than 10 miles away and has decided he wants to get to know his family.