I have lost loved ones and best friends to the scourge of cancer. My bike ride across the US is being done in memory of my loved ones to raise money to help cancer victims, their families, and to aid in research to cure this dreadful disease. Read “My Story” for more details.
A note about these good people.
Margie and I went together for nearly 5 years in the 50s and early 60s but drifted apart. 27 years later we came together and married in 1993. She was a wonderful gal who made our home a delight. Beginning in 2004 she suffered serious health problems including a stroke, open heart surgery, and finally ovarian cancer that claimed her life after we shared nearly 24 years of marriage.
My first wife, Patricia Currant McCombs, was born and raised in Luton, England. We raised three daughters together, all of whom were born in England during my nearly 11 years of active USAF duty at RAF Chicksands, Bedfordshire and thus all three are proud citizens of both Britain and the US. Pat and I decided to divorce in the mid-80s, but remained in constant touch. She too passed away from ovarian cancer in a home hospice of our daughter Natalie and husband Jon. I helped as a caregiver in her final weeks.
To my USAF brothers and sisters the following loved ones are our kindred spirits.
My sister Linda was an RN and followed me into the USAF, but as a commissioned officer. She was active duty for four years, mostly at Barksdale AFB, where she met and married her husband Ed Beckcom, a radar-navigator on B52s (later FB111s). Ironically Ed who flew over 200 B52 Missions in the Vietnam including the Linebacker series survived the war, but Linda was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 29 and passed away, despite a valiant fight at age 35 leaving a grieving husband and two small sons. Ed immediately set up a perpetual scholarship in her memory at his alma mater, Texas A&M.
Royce, like me was career USAF, with 20 years service as an Intelligence Analyst in Scotland, Japan, and at NSA. He retired, turning down promotion to SMSgt to accept a position in NSA. I first met him when he was a SSgt in 1963 in Misawa, Japan and learned he was a very special analyst. Later in the early 1970s he and I collaborated very closely on intelligence issues while he was at NSA as a GS12/13/14 and I was active duty USAF At RAF Chicksands. As my tour at Chicksands was ending he asked me if I would be happy with a tour at NSA. When I said yes he talked to a USAF General Officer who made the assignment happen. For nearly 4 years I worked for him and will forever be grateful for the opportunities he created for me that made that tour so very rewarding. He eventually retired and relocated to the Outer Banks, NC. After my USAF and corporate retirements Margie and I visited Royce and his wife Mary. The ladies became close friends. We too decided to retire in the Outer Banks and did so in 2000. We bought a home about 1/2 mile from the Wright Brothers First Flight location (appropriate location for an old USAF guy). Royce was diagnosed with bladder cancer and passed away in 2006 to the great sorrow of family members and close friends. All of us are blessed with friends, but having a “best” friend is very special.
Mary, Royce’s great wife for over 50 years, was the ideal military wife. She was always supportive and constantly volunteered at USAF bases to enrich the lives of USAF families. After a very long and valiant fight she passed away in 2016 from the ravages of pancreatic cancer.