One of Our Own
No doubt, most of you reading this blog will have heard of the death of Neptunus Lex. For those unfamiliar with him, his blog is listed upon my blogroll, on the right of this screen. It is a joy to read, and to dwell upon, akin to a fine whiskey. To be sipped, savored, and remembered. Once you started to read his stories, you were hooked.
It didn’t matter whether he was writing of the mundane life of a Naval Aviator, or the sharp parries and thrusts of a political debate. The man could duel with words on a footing as equal to, if not better than, his skill with a saber. He was that good. Many may banter about the term “wordsmith”, but few could define it. Lex’s writing could, and did. Consistently
In Lex’s blog, his stories, his observations, you got the feeling, reading them, that he wasn’t so much reporting but having a conversation with you. He’d pose questions for his audience, often ending with “discuss among yourselves”. He’d let the conversation flow in the comment section, popping in from time to time to correct something, but mostly letting the regulars and visitors have at it. And it was always a civilized, gentile discourse. Even when it wasn’t.
Now and then, he would use his blog, as I and many other do, as a catharsis. A means to think something through, to act upon the concept that confession is always good for the soul. Whether it was personal demons, family or job issues, the loss of a friend, or any of the myriad things that accost us all, he would write of them, openly and honestly, as if we were each his closest confidant, friend, or some guy sitting beside him at the bar. He was like that, and he was wonderful with what he did.
Lex was many things. He was a Naval Aviator, flying F/A 18′s in combat. He was a squadron commander, did his XO tour at Top Gun, and retired as a US Navy Captain. More than that, though, he was a husband and father whose love for his family was evident in the occasional comment and article. He wrote about life as he experienced it, things which interested him, and gave each of us a glimpse into the life and times, the joys and tribulations of an extraordinary soul.
Lex was more than kind to me, an old airdale who followed his lead into blogging. He’d suggested I take it up and when I did, he graciously offered advice and mentored me. He humbled me by linking to my poor site, as one of his “Bloggers in Arms”. More than anything else, though, when I lost a younger sister to cancer, he not only wrote about it on his own site, but sent me a poignant letter of condolence. He was the kind of officer that I would have followed anywhere.
Though I had been reading his blog for awhile, I first met Lex in 2007, at the Millblog Conference in Washington. He was blessed with an infectious smile that must have melted many a womanly heart, and a southern charm that fit him like a tailored suit. He could laugh and listen and treat you as if we’d been acquainted for years. He was a gentleman, and a gentle man, and I like so many others, shall miss him.
It was Lex’s gift to be granted that which so many of us old salts dream about: a second chance. We all think about how we’d like to be able to fly one more mission, to gear up and do what we loved for one last time. Lex, the fighter pilot, the dashing Naval Aviator, got the chance to fly fighters again, as a civilian contractor helping to train the young pilots of his beloved Navy. His skills as an aggressor helped to hone those young mens flying skills to a keen edge, to make them masters of their domain, at least as long as he’d let them.
In the end, Lex left us doing that which he loved to do: flying a fighter. We should remember his family, praying that they will find solace, and be ready to help them wherever and whenever we can. It is the least that any of us could do. Most of all, we should remember Lex as a gifted writer and storyteller, a true wordsmith, and as our friend. He let us into his world, and see it through his eyes, and left us always wanting more.
God Speed, Lex. We’ll miss you mightily.
Steve Ambrose: Don’t Blink
Chap at USNI Blog: Pardon Him
Susan Katz Keating: Neptunus Lex: 1960-2012
Castle argghhh!!!: A Fraternity of Aviators
CDR Salamander: Thank You and Farewell
The Sandgram: Cleared West
John Donovan: We were Bloggers Once
USNI Blog: A Remarkable Man
Homefront Six: Fair Winds
SteelJaw Scribe: Ave Atque Vale
EagleSpeak: Beat The Drum Slowly
NavyCS: Thank You For Everything
Pirate’s Cove: If All You See
Doc In The Box: Remembering
NavyTimes: Neptunus Lex
BlackFive: McQ, Pinch & Subsunk
XBRADTC: RIP Carroll LeFon
Bouhammer: God Speed
The Sniper: RIP Lex
Villainous Company: Lex
Time/Battleland: Life, and Death