One year has passed.
365 days without him. Without his words, his wisdom, his humor.
Capt. Carroll “Lex” Lefon. Died in service to his country one year ago today. He died doing what he loved, what his soul was called to do.
Fly. Fast. Really fast.
It was with such joy that he began his 1st career again after trying a 2nd career as a desk jockey.
That did not sit well with Lex, nosiree.
Qualifying the kFIR he would fly adversary for the TOPGUN aviators. The stuff that legends are made of.
Except that Lex was already a legend. To those of us who read his blog faithfully – his writing was the stuff of genius. How many times did someone say “write the damn book”…
Write one he did. Rhythms will someday be published; and a community left bereft at his passing will likely gather as we always promised we would – someplace “in the middle” so that we could all get a first edition and have it signed by the author whilst plying him with Guinness.
Lots of Guinness.
It is so tragic that a man like Lex – who lived 10 lifetimes in one short one – still had so much living to do. But then again, adrenaline-junkie that he was, whose to say that he didn’t live all that he was supposed to. He lived life on the tip of the spear – from fast jets to fast cars to fast motorcycles.
And while I feel the sorrow of his loss keenly, my thoughts turn to his beloved family and I realize that my grief can only pale to insignificance in the face of theirs.
I lost a good friend – no – I lost the brother of my heart one year ago today. The world changed once when I met Lex and I became a better person for it. The world changed again when he died – and I like to think that I remain that better person.
Lex showed us all how to live a life made of dreams. Lex showed us how to live a life of integrity, principles, honor and valor.
He was courageous to the end – landing a stricken jet with no fuel on board in deadly cross winds. It is a testament to his skill as a pilot and his determination as a human being that he got that kFIR on the ground at all.
Lex had grit – true grit. He served his country with dignity, he loved his family with passion and he shared so much of himself that I often wondered if he’d break from all the stretching.
When I woke up today – I felt a terrible weight pressing down on me. In those few precious moments after I opened my eyes, the world was as it should be. Then my mind engaged and I realized – no, it’s not. It all became clear and I knew why that weight was there.
And as the day has gone by – as I have read tributes from others – I feel that weight lifting. Yes, Lex lived a life of possibilities. And it is those possiblities that we should celebrate – both in his life and to welcome them into ours.
So it will be tonite that I will turn to a private memorial page on Facebook and celebrate the life of this extraordinary man. We miss him terribly and yet he left us a powerful legacy of focus and dedication to ones dreams.
Lex – you are with the angels, I’m sure of it – showing them how flying is really done.
8 responses to “Remembering”
Well said Kris.
I was thinking about Lex and knowing that he was exactly where he wanted to be.
I have been thinking today – that with so many lives that he touched – in such a positive way – can he really be “gone”?
(I have to say what I am saying is the result of my shot of Jamison and Guinness – done for Lex [somehow I can sense him laughing at that remark] – but some years ago I lost in a rather tragic way someone I loved.
And going though that, which took a few years [and as an aside we never “get over” such things – we just “heal” with a scar] – but someone told me during this very dark time about the circle of love. That for what I went through I can help others through that experience.
So Lex really isn’t “gone” – those who he affected remain and affect others.
At least that is my take.
Writing brings a certain kind of immortality, for sure. But I’m worried about the blogosphere. Hopefully Rhythms will be published, but that is not enough, really, imho. Only if the the collective wonder that was Neptunus Lex–Lex’s posts and the collective running commentary by the/we “Lexicans” that gathered there drawn by the genius that was Lex–is somehow published, will some future historian or 5th-grade school-boy randomly picking a book off the shelf at the Public Library (or do I date myself, will 5th graders even read books 50 years from now?) come to appreciate his (these) life and times as seen thru the eyes of Lex and his brothers (and sisters) in the bond of like-minded fellowship.
I should caution that time can be cruel even to the most famous. I am reminded of the story about Bud Wilkinson, an All-American QB at Minnisota under legendary Bernie Bierman and later himself one of the nation’s greatest college coach’s ever at Oklahoma coaching a never-to-be-matched 47 game winning streak, when, after he was long retired and doing color radio commentary at Okla football games the OU recruiting staff brought up an “All-World” HS running back recruit to the Press Box to meet him. After a short polite conversation and when they were on the way down the elevator back to the field, the young HS recruit turned to his escort and said: “That old man we just talked to, did he use to be famous or something?”
It is to weep, but unfortunately it is the way of the world..
(And Kris, beautiful and heart-felt writing, btw. Much appreciated..)
VX, I know what you mean about old legends (or leg-ends as I’m sometimes tempted to jovially say). Kris has captured some of my feelings rather nicely.
I just keep on trying to educate, advise and storytell so that some may grasp who is, and who was, out there so that they might marvel at, and learn something from, their words, thoughts and deeds as I like to do. I’ve found it adds something to me and my inner being and think the feeling is too good not to share. I rate altruism!
Lex will never be an old `has been` he will remain an `always will be` to a relatively small but massively privileged group of people – family, colleagues, friends – for as long as they choose, or are permitted, to hold him in their thoughts.
Those who never knew were either never told or were never interested anyway. Those that do know are very lucky to be in on the secret. 😉
Your point about the collective is VERY well-taken, Virgil. Lex was much like a beloved headmaster, a favorite professor, or a Socrates/Aristotle/Plato figure holding forth and encouraging his disciples to weigh in, but always with grace and humility. It’s not likely we’ll ever see that sort of community/collective again, as I know of no equal in the blogosphere. (I’ll quit now before I go over the top, if I haven’t already done so.)
And yeah, Kris… what Virgil said about your post.
VX, I concur.
The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.
Lex inspired me to pay it forward by chairing a scholarship group. We worked a concession stand at KSU’s home football games for funding.
We just finished our 2nd Annual Constitution Bee, given to high schoolers. The individuals competing were impressive, and the winners were quite knowledgeable. I’ll have to think up more good questions for next year.
The goal is to transmit to outstanding individuals the wisdom of the Founders and the winning American culture that is fading fast. It is a race against time.
I miss commenting on Lex’s porch, because of the very high signal / noise ratio. Good people, good stories, and pearls of wisdom. I still use stories Lex and others told as part of my safety culture at work.
VX, I’m glad to see your posts in various forums. I always enjoyed your stories and perspective. I worry at times about the shortage of Barbancourt, and if your liver will hold out. May your alcohol dehydrogenase enzymes never falter.
I know the USNI plans to publish the blog in some fashion or other. But VX makes a valid point – what about the commentariat. Not for any ego in it but we added so much to the texture of what Lex wrote. Sometimes the comments were as worthy of a read-with-coffee as the post written by Lex. Whose to say what will get published…
I’m feeling a sense of urgency now about this. To preserve it in some way for ourselves. Yet it’s intellectual property and that will be owned by the family.
God, I don’t want to lose all that. I already miss so many of the original commenters – BadBob, Max Damage, and so many others. To lose their written words would be just as painful.
Well, last year at this time Lex died, and I lost a friend in my
end of the world of Airtanker ops-not to an accident but to cancer.
I pondered what and why of the world and my place in it.
I thought of Lex putting the Nomex back on and doing what he loved.
I thought of my friend Rich who wasted away at home and died well,
but away from his beloved hangar and planes…
I thought of my Cowboy/Indian Pop who was one who rode boldly
and well when he was young. Always said he was “goin’ to die with
my boots on!” He did-he was changing out the starter on mom’s car .
he finished it, gave the torque wrench back to his buddy and died on the creeper.
As I was working on a Real Estate paperwork assignment, on the deck
last July,i heard the sound of four R-3350’s straining under a loaded takeoff..I thought-“what am I doing?!” I put down the computer, and
looked to see Tanker 66 as she sang her song overhead…
Then a phone call from Butler Aircraft-(Now Erickson Aero) things started
Yes i am going back! Lord willing, I have a seat! if the contract negotiations
with ODF and Calfire go as planned, Got my medical and the Nomex is
ready for this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i2mhqfW7k3U
We all have gifts. I had let mine go for too long. Not any more.
“CLEAR THREE! TURNING!”…
One of these days i will thank Lex personally..
I didn’t hear about Lex until late on the 6th. Bill Tuttle, over in the AFG had heard before I did and sent me an email telling me about it and telling me that Mary had not been told yet. Bill had been up ungodly late to send me that, and it was like a punch in the gut.
I’ve had three friends killed in the last two years. The first by his own hand, for reasons that are still beyond me. The Lex last spring, and a good friend in Ohio who was killed in an auto accident which left his wife out of it for nearly a month. I didn’t hear about his death until nearly two months after the fact.
It’s a good thing I’m so busy at this point, because I’d be awfully close to depression. I met Lex once, but was looking forward to it the following summer. But, alas.
I’m reminded of the piece of poetry, “ask for whom the bell tolls…” Gravity will get us all eventually.