November 11, 2017
The Marine’s Marine
Missing my pal Sgt. Dave Easton, USMC, today. For the past several years I was in the habit of sending Dave a note every November 10 (the Marine Corps birthday, which is a big deal to leathernecks) and again on November 11. Dave left us earlier this year. We were friends for 25 years, beginning at the Nicholstone book bindery in Nashville where Dave mentored me on the finer points of old school book printing and binding.
According to Canopic author Marc Charles, who as a retired Lt. Colonel of Marines qualifies as an expert on the subject, Dave was a Marine’s Marine. Indeed. And he was a loyal friend to me to the end despite my aggravating tendency to sometimes take issue with his hard right perspective on the world. One time he told me, “You don’t have to agree with me to be my friend.” When I shared that quote with his daughter Izzy [Elizabeth], she raised her eyebrows and said “Really?”, which made me smile.
Dave was typically pretty hardlined about such things. Over the years I realized that Dave made an exception for me in that way, for which I am grateful. And he always had a strong fondness for my son Paul, never failing to ask about him in our talks or emails. Undoubtedly my special relationship with Paul accounts for my remaining on the Sarge’s “good guy” list when he otherwise was tired of my failure to see things correctly. There was never any question that if Paul or I needed him, Dave was there for us. And we for him.
When I put together the illustrated edition of my dad’s book, The View from My Ridge, I slipped in a photo of Dave with an essay on Korea. Because Dad died in 1986 and I met Dave in 1992, they never met. But they would have been friends. I feel as though they have now been properly introduced.
Canopic published Dave’s memoir, Leatherneck Sea Stories, in 2007. While it covered his career as a Marine, including a year on the frontline in Korea, the book had one primary agenda: to pay homage to his friends and to demonstrate the concept of friendship as defined by a Marine. I am not a Marine, but I have learned a bit about friendship over the years. One of my most profound teachers on the subject was Dave. The Sarge. My friend.