Today America lost a warrior, the Marine Corps lost a Brother, a family lost a loved one, and I lost one of my best friends. In the early 1980’s, Cpl. Kent Cagle honorably served his country as a United States Marine. I was proud to have served with him and call him a brother.
In 1983, the NCOIC of my shop at the Marine Corps Air Station in Tustin, California sent me to headquarters (Receiving) to pick up the new guy, his name was Kent Cagle. I drove over to admin, walked in and announced to a room full of newly-arrived Marines, “Which one of you is the 5982?” Kent smiled, raised his hand, and said “That’s me”. I said, then let’s go!
A 5982 is the military occupational specialty (MOS) for a computer repair technician. Our H&MS-16 shop desperately needed another 5982 to support our UNIVAC computer systems to keep the Marine Sikorsky and Boeing helicopters flying.
It didn’t take long for Kent to fit in. He had a somewhat sick sense of humor like only Marines can appreciate. He was always laughing or making the rest of us laugh about something; and, he was a good technician. We had a small tight Automated Data Processing (ADP) shop on base; a family who operated 24 hours a day to provide support to the Marine Aircraft Group (MAG-16).
Kent was passionate about many things but his love was basketball. I remember going to a Mater Dei High School basketball championship game with Kent in Santa Ana. While we were sitting midway in the stands, one might think Kent was coaching the team from up high. I’ll never forget that game only because I was so excited to see Kent’s enthusiasm for the game. When we had friendly basketball games on base with the guys, Kent would automatically be a player and a ref and he’d let nothing by without speaking up.
Whether it was impromptu trips, playing a game of Spades, video games, or working serious tech issues, Kent was always the one we wanted around us. He added value to our experiences, love to our gatherings, and support when we hurt. Kent was always there for all of us with his smile or hand on your shoulder. His smile and laugh are as visible today as they were when we were young Marines. Writing this is the toughest thing I’ve done in a long while but I’m also glad that I can help others to remember Kent; he would have done the same for me.
After 9/11, Kent, J.R., and Paul sent me flowers to express their condolences for losing one of my work colleagues in the Twin Towers. That really touched me that my Marine buddies did that for me.
J.R. Haecherl, Paul Harrington, Marcelo Quiachon, Bob Thompson, Gunny Ransome, and the rest of us will keep your memory alive! We love you Brother and we’re better because we knew you.
My heart goes out to Kent’s family, loved ones, and friends. I’m so sorry for your loss. Kent was loved so much and he loved and talked about his family and kids every time we spoke.
My good friend and Marine Roger Herman once shared the following, which I think is very fitting and would like to include it now as I remember one of my best friends, Cpl. Kent Cagle.
“I now know why men who have been to war yearn to reunite. Not to tell stories or look at old pictures. Not to laugh or weep. Comrades gather because they long to be with the men who once acted their best, men who suffered and sacrificed, who were stripped raw, right down to their humanity.
I did not pick these men. They were delivered by fate and the U.S. Marine Corps. But I know them in a way I know no other men. I have never given anyone such trust. They were willing to guard something more precious than my life. They would have carried my reputation, the memory of me. It was part of the bargain we all made, the reason we were so willing to die for one another.
I cannot say where we are headed. Ours are not perfect friendships; those are the province of legend and myth. A few of my comrades drift far from me now, sending back only occasional word. I know that one day even these could fall to silence. Some of the men will stay close, a couple, perhaps, always at hand.
As long as I have memory, I will think of them all, every day. I am sure that when I leave this world, my last thought will be of my family and my comrades…..such good men. ~from “These Good Men” by Michael Norman
Semper Fi and take it easy on Chesty, let him make a basket or two when the two of you aren’t guarding the streets of Heaven.. And I’m certain Jessica is thrilled to see her Dad. R.I.P. Brother. See you some day again.
Cpl. Wally Beddoe