What to send to Tony?

Often I am asked, “what does Tony need?” or “what can I send to him?”  I usually have a list of things he has asked for, so I can pass that information along.  So, this blog post is to answer that question.

 

Where Tony is now, he does not have access to a satellite phone, and the internet is spotty.  He took his phone overseas with him, and he purchased an international SIM card.  He is able then to add minutes to this phone, and that is how we are able to stay in touch, and how he has able to contact other Marines since Brad’s passing.  Those minutes are very expensive though, and so any little bit helps.

 

What we’ve been doing so far, which is working well, is putting money on his paypal account.  He can then use that money to purchase minutes for his phone, and then he can stay in contact with friends and family.  He does not have to worry with currency exchanging, or anything like that.

 

This way, if you want to send him something small that he would definitely use, you could send him $5 or $10, or however much you feel comfortable with.  The steps for paypal are this:

 

(You must then either log into paypal yourself, or create an account.  It’s very easy to create an account, and it’s very secure.  You just have to enter your name, address, and method of payment.)

 

Go to paypal.com

Click on “transfer”, then “send someone money”

His email is tlruiz@comcast.net

Enter your email address and how much you want to send to him

 

He then is notified via email that you sent money to him, and he is able to access it immediately.  I am just putting this out as a suggestion, of something he would definitely use, and something that is very easy to send.  Feel free to contact me if you do not feel comfortable doing this, and still want to send him something, and I can fill you in on other things I know he’d like to receive or things that he needs.

 

I know he is appreciative of everything he receives…so thank you!

A Tribute to a Hero

Brad Fox was killed in the line of duty as a police officer in Plymouth Township on Thursday, September 13.  His obituary can be found here: www.legacy.com/obituaries/mcall/obituary.aspx?n=bradley-fox&pid=159938204#fbLoggedOut

 

The viewing was held Tuesday, September 18.  Lynsay, his widow, stood for at least 5 hours next to Brad’s casket, greeting each and every person who came to pay his/her respects.  There were collages of pictures set up, and a video of pictures as well.  The Marines and spouses were gathered on one side of the church.  There wasn’t much to say, but we were together, which was comforting.

 

The funeral was Wednesday, September 19.  The media reported that police officers from as far away as Maine and Chicago came to honor Brad.  They reported that over 8,000 people attended the services held for him.  As we drove nearer the church, there were police were lined on the street and in the parking lot.  Everywhere I looked I saw uniforms.   There were large television screens set up outside the church for several hundred police officers to watch the funeral.    It was both heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time.  To see all of this, and know it was to honor Brad, was incredible.

 

Outside the church, the mass of police officers and the large television screen set up.

Brad was respected with full military honors.  The service was beautifully done.  Since the media was streaming the funeral live, Tony was able to watch the majority of the funeral online.  His internet was spotty and it froze sometimes, but he was able to see most of it.

Brad was buried in Washington Crossing National Cemetery, which was a 45 minute drive from the church.  We were escorted via motorcade the entire way there.  As we left the church and drove through the community that Brad served, people were in the front yards with American flags and signs.  An elementary school had all the children lined up on the sidewalk as we drove by.  Cross streets were blocked, as was the turnpike.  Every overpass we drove under had emergency responders on it, holding American flags.  As we entered the cemetery, K9 officers were lined up on both sides of the road.  I was completely awed by the support of the community and emergency responders, and was so touched by their actions.

On the turnpike being escorted to the cemetery.

Entering the cemetery, the K9 officers lined up.

When we got to the cemetery, Charlie and Adam did some “comm magic” with a wifi card and an Iphone, and got Tony on Skype.  I held the phone throughout the service there so he could see and hear everything and “be” there with us.  There were color guards, and bagpipes playing in the background.  I couldn’t see any of that though, because of the sea of people surrounding me.  Over the loudspeaker, someone twice called for “Officer 178″, with no response.  After some time, someone came on the radio, calling “end of watch. September 13, 2012″.  Realizing that was the actual radio call, I broke down crying.   There was a 21 gun salute.  Friends and family placed roses on the casket, which had both USMC and Police force emblems on it.  As bagpipes played the Marine Corps Hymn, Police and Marines filed past the casket, laying their white dress gloves on top.

When I heard that Brad was killed, I only thought of losing our friend Brad.  I never thought of the bigger picture, of how many people he has impacted and touched in his life, having spent almost all of his adult life in service to others.  I just thought of Brad, who was always joking around and laughing…one of Tony’s oldest and best friends from the Corps…his spooning partner on the cold nights in the field at drill.  To see how the community and the Marines and Police officers honored him was indescribable.  Although he was taken from us far too early, he still leaves behind a profound legacy of courage and honor.  He accomplished more in 34 years than most do in a lifetime.

 

Tony’s letter to Brad

We lost one of our dearest friends last Thursday.  Officer Brad Fox was killed in the line of duty, ambushed by the driver of a hit and run vehicle.  The funeral was yesterday, and I need to some time to gather my thoughts before I post on what an incredibly moving day that was.  Tony, overseas and unable to come home, wrote this letter to Brad:

 

Brad –
I am so sorry I couldn’t be there today for Lynsay, Kadence and your family. I tried to make it back man. I promise I would have never left Lynsay’s side through this whole thing because I know that is what you would have wanted and expected fro

m me. But, I know you would have understood why I couldn’t be there then and now. I know though that Lynsay has been surrounded by so many people who love her and you. And, I promise you that your two girls and the little one on the way will be taken care of, by so many people who love you guys. Brad, I will always be there for them, always, you have my word brother.

I wanted to honor you in some way today because I know they are having your memorial back home. I thought about what I could do from here. I know that if I was there just maybe I would have been lucky enough to talk a little, to share a story or two about you and how much of a great man you were. And, if I cannot be there to share in person, I will share it on here. If I did have the chance to share a story with them, I know you would have been watching me. You’d probably be laughing, making some smart-ass comment to some other angel like “watch this guy try to speak, it’s the funniest thing ever”. In fact, you’re probably laughing right now telling them to read this letter because we all know how awesome my writing skills are too. There is no doubt I probably would have stood up there and stuttered and would have thrown in some good “Tonyism’s” that I know you loved so much. I would have definitely been in tears, crying like a baby, just trying to get words out.

But some how I would have, and this is what I would have told them:

I would tell them how much I loved you, and how great of a friend you were. How you never failed to make me laugh in 14 years. For that matter, how you never failed to make anybody laugh. I would tell them that there are just so many stories to share with them that shows how great of a man you are and how it was impossible not to laugh around you. Like the time I was doing that room inspection in James and Sherlock’s room, and I was so pissed, throwing things around. You were supposed to be my backup, but you instead were too busy laughing your ass off because of what they did. I couldn’t stay mad and had to walk out. Or the time I was planning on torturing the Marines in PT the next morning and unbeknownst to me you told the entire unit you would take care of everything. You took me to your hometown bar and got me so drunk that night that I couldn’t PT them the next morning. The entire unit applauded and cheered for you and then you all played dodge ball. How about when you and Brian were so convinced to volunteer to go back to Iraq for the second time and I was like “come on guys lets just think about this”. You both didn’t even hesitate and said, “We’re going back, you coming?” Of course I was coming, all I was asking for was that we just think about it, for a little (LOL). But that’s who you were- a true patriot. I will never forget when you prepped us to meet Lynsay for the first time and you told us all not to act like ourselves because you liked her. In reality, we knew you probably prepped and warned her about us, and how we were going to act ☺. How after 5 years of wearing TOMS, you still make fun of me every time I wear them around you. Every time I put them on now, I’m going to smile thinking about you laughing up there.

Even in the dark moments of my life, you were standing by me. Like the moment I got hurt in Iraq and you found out. When you knew that I was going to be ok, the first thing you did when you saw me was laugh and make fun of me for letting them get me, and then you hugged me. Or how over the past few years I was having some rough moments in my personal life and you would call just to talk to me and give me some encouragement.

Don’t worry though; I wouldn’t forget to mention your two favorite ones of us (wink). The famous PFT run you and I did together that so many Marines have no doubt heard about while drinking beers with us. I’m laughing now just thinking about it. And, the one where we spooned all night in a 2-man tent to survive that damn cold weather. I still say I got screwed when it was your turn to be the big spoon.

But Brad one thing is for sure, I would end it with this, the last words I ever heard you say to me…something I will cherish for the rest of my life. Just a few days before I was leaving to go overseas again, we spoke on the phone. We did our normal guy talk thing for a few moments, having a few laughs, taking shots at one another. Then you said “Alright man I have to go. I will see you soon when you get home. I love you brother and stay safe.” …… “I love you brother and stay safe.” Brad I will never forget those words, never. I love you too man and I know you are safe now. And, I will see you at home. It’s just going to be a different home this time, but I promise you, I will see you again. I love you and rest in peace brother, for your legacy will live on forever.

Semper Fidelis
Love,
Tony

Follow my journey

Thanks to my computer wizard friend Eric (quantumdynamix.net), I believe that the subscription buttons on my blog are now working.  This means that is is easier than ever to stay up to date with my journey!  Please subscribe via RSS, Twitter, or Facebook, and you will be notified every time there is a new blog post up here.  I’d like to hear back from you as to if it’s working or if you have problems.

 

I am working on an update blog post for you all, to fill you in on what’s been going on and how things are going since Tony left.  That will be soon to come…..

 

 

Photo shoots

In July, we had a photo shoot with a photographer I found through www.oplove.org.  Here is one I ordered from him: (www.georgesheldonphotography.com)

 

Also, Tony’s mother wanted to have some photographs taken of her whole family before he left.  Tony’s cousin Lynn (rohalcall.blogspot.com/) took them for us, and they turned out to be fabulous.  Here are just a few:

 

 

 

A Month of Maybe

This month of August has been a month of maybe.  I have been living tentatively, not really trying to plan much, being very flexible.  It started August 1 when Tony activated.  He had to report to Allentown, but we were not sure how long he would be there for.  Not sure what to expect when he got to VA for training…if he would be free to come home, or not have any days off, or if I could come down to visit.  We were not sure when he was leaving to go overseas.  As with anything with the military, details are sparse, often change, and frequently come late in the game.  It baffles me how with something as large as the Armed Forces, it can be so apparently disorganized and volatile.  Or, perhaps that is the nature of the beast.  You would think after 4 deployments, I would begin to understand that everything can change.  But, I like structure and planning, so this goes against my nature.  It just seems like no one knows, or the information we are given is not even correct!  On Tony’s first full day in Virginia, he called me at least 3 times with new information, which contradicted the information we were given in the first place.  I am not sure that he was blatantly lied to, but it seems like we should have had access to all this information when we were asking for it in the first place.  That can be extremely aggravating!  Not just for me, but for him too.  Ok, rant over….

 

I was able to go down to Virginia to spend the weekend with Tony earlier this month.  We have been able to talk pretty much daily, and stay in touch that way, which has been great.  I was planning to go down to Virginia again this weekend, but earlier this week (Tuesday or Wednesday), plans changed again.  Tony was given an extra day off, so he is coming home later today!  I am excited to see him, and even more excited that we will be at home together this weekend.

 

***UPDATE:

Less than two hours after I posted the above blog, Tony called to say that the Marine Corps changed their mind, and he needs to report at 8am Monday instead of Tuesday afternoon.  So much for a few relaxing days at home!  He is still coming home, but now for less than 2 days.  All I can do at this point is laugh….or else I’d cry!

Activation

Tony is now activated again.  He left home last night :(  and reported this morning.  He will be in the States for a bit for training (during which time we are hoping we can see each other), then will be traveling overseas.  Please keep him in your prayers as he is preparing for this deployment, and traveling.  I will try to keep you posted as much as possible, but please realize that details will be sparse due to safety reasons.

OpLove photo shoot

Back in January, I wrote a blog post about resources I have learned about throughout this last deployment.  One of those I found out about and mentioned in that post was OpLove, where photographers donate their time to take photos of military members and their families.  I tucked this piece of information away for later use.

 

With Tony’s upcoming 4th deployment, I wanted to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity.  I went to the website www.oplove.org, and located a nearby photographer (www.georgesheldonphotography.com) who was affiliated with OpLove.  Today, we had our photo shoot.  With the threat of severe thunderstorms, we met the photographer at Willow Valley/DoubleTree instead of Lancaster County Park.

 

I should tell you that Tony does not like to have his picture taken much, and he ESPECIALLY does not like to smile.  I think he thinks showing emotion isn’t a good thing, and, according to him “I hate the way I look in pictures.”  With that back story, it was no small feat to get him to agree to this photo shoot.  In all of our years together, we have NEVER had our picture professionally taken together (well, minus our wedding).  No engagement shoot, nothing.  I think I pulled at his heart strings, and kinda guilted him in to doing it.  The one time I tried to get his input (like where should we have the photos done at), he responded with “You know I don’t really want to do it, but I am doing it for you.  You set it up and just tell me where to be when.”

 

Well, considering that it was about 95 degrees today, even that we waited until 6:30pm did not cool things down.  We began the photo shoot inside the lobby and then moved outside right before the thunderstorm came.  I can’t wait to share the photos!

 

 

Prof Ruiz

This past spring, I taught a general psychology class at HACC Lebanon.  Although I loved the experience, the drive to Lebanon (about 50-55 min each way) was a long commute.  I figured I had to “pay my dues”, take what was offered to me, and do what was necessary to gain more experience in the teaching profession.  I had a class lined up to teach at the Lebanon campus again in the fall, and had started to prepare for that class.

 

Late last week, I received a phone call from the Dean of Academic Affairs of HACC Lancaster, and was pleased to be offered a class at the Lancaster campus for this fall semester.  This offer to teach in Lancaster was unexpected and made me so excited!  I will be teaching in Lancaster instead of Lebanon, which means almost 4 hours less driving a week!  I can’t wait!

Deployment, Part 4

Yes, you read that correctly-there is another deployment on the horizon.  For safety and security reasons, I am not going to post too much information about it here.  If you want more specifics, please email or call one of us, and we will fill you in that way.

 

Tony will be reporting August 1 in Virginia to prepare for another deployment.  This one is not to Iraq or Afghanistan, but it is overseas again.  We are seeing it as an opportunity for Tony that will help him with his future plans for a new business.  Plus, he was “recruited” for this deployment, which made it even harder to turn down.  The good news is that I may be able to travel to visit him while he is overseas, which would be a incredible experience.  So, even though Deployment, Part 4 sucks, there are some silver linings.

 

It is definitely horrible that it seems we were just getting used to being with each other, and now we have to be apart again.  My request of you all is still the same: please keep him and his Marines in your prayers.  Pray for wisdom, discernment, and safety for them.  Pray for me, for strength and peace of mind while we are apart.  Pray for all the servicemen serving away from their homes.

 

Looks like there will be many, many more blog posts to come as we go through yet another deployment!