Category Archives: In Memoriam

Requiescat in Pace

Posted by D. G. Harvey, on March 9, 2012

So it was that on late Wednesday night or early Thursday morning I learned of the death of a friend of mine. Retiring after 26 years in the Navy flying F/A-18 Hornets, CAPT Carroll “Lex” LeFon, USN(Ret) had gone to work flying adversary aircraft against student aviators from TOPGUN (one word, all caps, don’t ask) school, and was on that day flying an Israeli-made F21 Kfir single engine jet fighter when he crashed upon attempting to land at NAS Fallon, NV.

Over at his website, the final post has received over 1000 comments, many of them from folks who never met the man, some of whom – like myself – knew him somewhat from occasional get togethers or email exchanges. But all of us got to know the “humble scribe” primarily through his writings. And boy, could he write.

I was first pointed to his website back in 2005, when I was working at Marine Forces, Europe in Stuttgart, Germany. A Navy colleague was a frequent reader, and said I ought to check it out. Lex was, at the time, engaged in writing his multi-part “Rhythms” series, about life onboard an aircraft carrier – and from that moment on I was hooked.

In the course of things, my own professional aspirations having reached a culmination of sorts, I invited Lex to attend my ordination. He graciously appeared, having dusted off his four-striped uniform, and was among the first to congratulate me once the deed was done. To my somewhat embarrassment and quiet pride, he wrote about the event a few days later, tying in my celebration with his own religious wanderings; humbly revealing that he’d not been to church in a long while, yet still believed in Truth, and in what made someone a Christian.

As I sit here, still acutely feeling the loss of a man who in reality could not have been more than an acquaintance, I’ve been pondering why exactly I feel the way I do, and why my feelings are shared with nearly a thousand other souls, who grieve for much more than losing something to read with their morning coffee. Here’s what I’ve come up with:

For over eight years, Lex shared himself through his gifted writings. He revealed to us his beliefs and his struggles with faith; his paternal fears about his daughter and his unmatched pride in his son. He regaled us with sea stories – some outright hilarious, others heartbreaking in their sadness – political musings, and all manner of various and diverse lessons learned about flying, parenting, leadership, etc.

We invited him into our (virtual) homes, day after day, year after year, and came to feel as though we knew the man behind the screen. He quoted Yeats and Tennyson, showing himself to be a true renaissance man, a warrior/poet from a bygone era, and we loved him for it. He was possessed of a keenly analytical mind, and no small measure of intelligence, and he could pick apart social issues and present them in a manner which left some room for debate, yet had his own opinion clearly stamped on top.

In fact, it was this engaging debate that kept many of us coming back; for while in other blogs the comments section is almost an afterthought, at “Chez Lex” it was almost sort of an addendum to the regular post. Over the years, I began to recognize the “regulars” who always had something to say, and over time I found my own voice and dared to join in. I was welcomed and encouraged, for it was a very decent fellowship, and Lex worked hard to keep a sort of charitable intercourse going. We would bicker and argue with each other, but nearly always within the bounds of courtesy and camaraderie. Gradually, we coalesced into sort of our own little community, and would occasionally gather together at a local watering hole for to hoist a pint of Guinness (for strength!) and banter back and forth with our good and gracious host.

We recognized in him both professional excellence and amazing literary skill, as well as a basic decency that is hard to put into words. He was at once the boss you wished you had, the warrior you would unhesitatingly follow into combat, the wise older brother, and the loving, devoted husband and father that you aspired to be. He could tick off any number of accomplishments: a 26-year Navy career, command of a fighter squadron, XO of TOPGUN school – yet do so in a self-deprecating way, as though he was past the point of pride and arrogance. Not that he wasn’t proud of being a strike/fighter pilot, as he would be quick to tell you, but it was just that he had begun to realize that life was full of so much more – that there wasn’t time to dwell on past glories because the future held so much more promise.

We loved you, Lex. Loved you for your uncompromising pursuit of excellence. For the doubts and fears that you worked through and shared with us. For the profound and open love and admiration you expressed towards your dear wife of nearly three decades and your three beautiful children. For your honest and unsullied love of country and for the folks who served and continue to serve that nation in uniform. For continuing to tackle the hard things, all the while casting a weathered eye about for lessons to be learned and imparted to others. For sharing your wisdom with us and making us better people because of it.

Your loss is hard to bear, because we thought we had so much more time to sift through your pearls of wisdom.

As hizzoner himself would say, it is to weep.

03-07-21 Yesterday was the 9th anniversary of Lex’s departure from us. We were reminiscing, and one of the Lexicans gave us the link of what he wrote 3 days later. Lex’s website went down due to a technical issue just a month later. With his permission, here is his post from that time with references to Lex’s posts updated to this site. I thought his post described beautifully why even 9 years later, he is still missed. The author presented the above caricature to Lex upon his retirement from the Navy in 2008.

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Happy Birthday Dad

By lex, on November 9th, 2012

From Chris(SNO)-

Today is the first day I won’t be able to wish him a “Happy Birthday” over the phone via FaceTime, or the Stone-Age method of actually calling. It’s been a very strange experience. We had the standard father-son relationship with hunting trips when we could, talked about life during down times, and of course all things aviation/Navy related. We shared stories and asked what was different and how he did this or I did that. I had hoped to take him in a helicopter for one of his birthdays or as a Christmas gift to show him what flying really is! Joking of course, I just had to give him and his jet buddies a playful jab. As I continue to learn more about what goes into being an aviator, ground jobs and working with other military branches, I find myself wanting to pick up the phone to call him for guidance or just to complain about the day and hear “how it used to be in my time”. I’ll never forget the expertise and words of wisdom he imparted on me in regards to family, friends, and work. I hope to some day be half the man he was. I would like to end with my father’s favorite quote, modified slightly, from Gladiator, “If you find yourself alone, flying in CAVU skies with the sun on your face, do not be troubled. For you are in Elysium, and you’re already dead!” Happy Birthday Old Man! *Raises a pint of Guinness and a shot of Jameson*

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Filed under Best of Neptunus Lex, Carroll "Lex" LeFon, Carroll LeFon, Family, In Memoriam, Lex, Neptunus Lex

Shakespeare’s

By lex, on October 30th, 2012

Hey everyone!

Friday November 9th is my dad’s birthday and in honor of it my mom would like to get a group together of anyone and everyone who is in San Diego and wants to get a beer (Guinness, of course). The plan is Shakespeare’s Pub on 3701 India St.

San Diego, CA 92103 around 5:30PM and planning to stay until 7 or 8PM. We would love it if whoever can swing it can come by, although we understand not everyone lives in San Diego so we aren’t expecting much.

Also, each of us kids plans on posting a little something on the blog for his birthday so we’re hoping you guys might check that out when the time comes.

Thanks always- Kat


 

05-23-20 I thought I had gotten all we could get from the Wayback Machine, but I came across a couple more. As to what the “kids” planned on posting, just as 8 years ago, wait and see 😉 

And of course the meet at Shakespeare’s was 8 years ago, not this November 9th, although maybe we should have another one in honor of Hizzoner? 

BB

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Filed under Best of Neptunus Lex, Carroll "Lex" LeFon, Carroll LeFon, Family, In Memoriam, Lex, Neptunus Lex, San Diego

Remembering Danny Dietz

Posted by lex On July 5th, 2007

Rifle and all: **

LITTLETON, Colo. (July 4, 2007) – Family, friends and Littleton city officials view the larger-than-life bronze statue of Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class (SEAL) Danny P. Dietz, who was honored by his hometown of Littleton, by dedicating the statue and park near his childhood family home. An estimated 3,000 people crowded the new park to honor the Sailor’s memory. Gunners Mate 2nd Class (SEAL) Danny Dietz was killed in action while conducting counter-terrorism operations in Kunar Province, Afghanistan on June 28, 2005. Coalition forces located the Sailor and notified the family six days later on July 4. The Memorial dedication marks the second anniversary of this event. U.S. Navy photo by Boatswains Mate 1st Class Chet Mowrey

I had a post on this story up several months ago. A story that should have been about a brave petty officer who valiantly gave his life in support of his friends and in his country’s noble cause, but that instead turned on the issue of whether a statue of a Navy SEAL with a rifle in a city park where children might see would be somehow “inappropriate.” The local police department was sufficiently concerned that the statue might be vandalized before it was unveiled that they enlisted the assistance ** of the Colorado chapter of Rolling Thunder to help them maintain a vigil.

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Diana Rigg

With the news of the passing of Diana Rigg today, I thought I would tell you of a time when her world and mine intersected.

It was December, 1974 and I had a week’s leave. I hopped on a C-141 at Rhein-Main, and poodled over to Mildenhall Air Base to take a train into London.

And wandering around at night, what should I do?

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A Couple of Stirling Moss Stories

With the news that Sir Stirling has passed away at 90, Motorsports lost a motor sports icon and a true gentleman.  It has been said that he was one of the greatest drivers who never won a Formula 1 championship.

Of the 528 races that he started, he won a remarkable 212.

It was said that he never won the F1 title because he was too much a gentleman.

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A Carroll “Lex” LeFon Primer

testLex

Who was Carroll LeFon?

The best description of Lex that I’ve heard is “Imagine Hemingway flew fighters…and liked people.

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Filed under Airplanes, by lex, Carroll "Lex" LeFon, Carroll LeFon, Faith, Family, Fighter Pilot Stories, Flying, Funny Stuff, Good Stuff, GWOT, Heroes Among Us, Humor, In Memoriam, Index, International Affairs, Iraq, Leadership, Lex, Lexicans, Life, Naval Aviation, Naval History, Navy, Neptunus Lex, Night Bounce, Politics and Culture, San Diego, Tales Of The Sea Service, USNA, Valor

2 Dates Etched In My Memory

Are November 22, 1963 and September 11th, 2001. I can tell you exactly where I was on both of those dates and what I was doing. On the morning of September 12th, I was walking my dog as normal and I could sense that something was different. It took me a moment, but I realized it was the sky.

It was the absolute quietness of the sky. Not a plane could be seen or heard. The FAA had grounded all civilian air traffic the day before.

Two years later, I visited Manhattan for the first time in my life. Stayed at a little hotel at midtown run by Catholic nuns.

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El Paso Part 1

It’s funny how with age some of the smallest things in life one can still remember, like a photograph. My very first memory of El Paso was upon hearing Reveille , looking out my barracks window and seeing nothing but an ocean of sand. The day before, I had finished basic training at Ft Ord, along the coast of the Monterey Peninsula, and the Drill Sgt had us all in formation as he was giving out assignments with the Army post we’d be going to for advanced training. .

Guys were getting infantry, signal corps, and when it came time for him to call my name, “Brandt! Ft Bliss, Texas – Air Defense!

I’m thinking (to myself of course) – say what?

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RIP Niki

The only Grand Prix that I have ever seen was in the summer of 1973, courtesy of the Army Special Services.

If you were off duty they sometimes arranged day trips of the local areas. The German Grand Prix was to be at a fabled course called the Nurburgring. This course, built in the 1920s, was the longest closed circuit course by far, at 14 miles or so. Fourteen miles of terrifying sharp turns, long straights, and in one area a jump through the Eifel forest.

Racing great Jackie Stewart called the course The Green Hell, and the term stuck.

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