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The Greatest Gift We Can Give

Posted on December 14, 2016 by


On December 25, 1944
a long line of ragged American paratroopers of the 11th Airborne "Angels" Division made their way down a slippery jungle trail. They had been fighting non-stop since November 22 and estimates state that the Angels destroyed over 5,700 of the enemy. They were hungry, tired, and ready for rest. They had buried their dead by the trail-side, marking graves the best they could, and all were suffering from undernourishment with ulcers on their feet and legs.

They slowly, yet carefully, plodded along the trail, ready to put the demands and dangers of combat behind them. As each trooper moved forward, lost in his own thoughts, a quite whisper slowly made its way down the line.

"It's Christmas."

andrew j carricoHeaven gained another angel on October 13, 2016 at 11:04pm, Eastern Standard Time. Please consider reading his official obituary here, but first let me tell you a little about that angel, my hero, 1st Lieutenant Andrew J. Carrico III, who would have turned 99 this Halloween had God not called his servant home. 

He was not my biological grandfather, but that never mattered to him. Nor me. He was the man who taught me to swim in the ocean off the South Carolina coast. He taught me to dive off the diving board on Hilton Head Island and took us on bike rides around the gold courses when they lived there. He stole our silverware during dinner and hid it when we weren't watching. He allowed us to sit on the back screened porch during their terrific thunder storms and he used to transport the squirrels he caught to the other side of the island and let them go. He taught us how to dig for sand dollars and squirt water jets out of our hands. He taught us to watch for different birds in their kitchen and he loved his tuna sandwiches. He was kind, loving, and strong. Grandy (never Grandpa to us) was courage embodied and taught me so much about what it means to be a husband, a father, a grand father and a hero.

Grandy would never accept that term, "hero", but a hero he was, to me, to you and to the world. Like so many others during World War II he answered the call to serve, to defend liberty, to fight for what is right through the jungles of the Pacific. When I asked him how he felt on his first jump as a paratrooper, one of the United States' most elite soldiers, he said, "Scared; but you had to go." He fought the forces of Imperial Japan through the jungles of Leyte, he fought through the streets of Manila, on beaches and in the hills. He was wounded by a Japanese machine gunner and lost his ring finger and the bullet lodged in his shoulder. Grandpa was tough, brave, efficient, and a natural born leader. From everything I have studied about his military experience he was concerned for his men, calculated each mission carefully and never shrank from his duty in the line of fire. You can read more about his war experience in this article or at the bottom of this post you'll find an audio interview I did with him a few years ago. Please take a moment and listen to it in his honor. 

He had seen so much in war that during a hurricane one time on the East Coast Grandy fell asleep while everyone else in the house stayed awake terrified. Grinny woke him up and said, "Andy, if we have to go through this storm you're going to be awake with me!"

There were many times in my life when I was afraid I was facing, when I was not sure how to proceed. Times when I felt lonely or even perhaps unloved. But Grandy and Grinny (my grandma) would send a card or call. I hope this does not sound cliche, but sometimes I would ask myself what Grandy would do. I know he wasn't perfect, but he was the perfect grandfather to me. I wish I had told him that more. I wish I had called more, written more emails or letters, even done video chats which I meant to teach Grinny how to do, but just never made it happen. 

I believe that tonight he is being greeted by his comrades in arms, by all his friends from over the years, and by his family who went before him. I imagine he is receiving a hero's welcome down the streets of Heaven in a way no earthly parade could ever match. Most of all, I believe he is being embraced by our Savior, Jesus Christ, who we both have strong faith in, and by our Father in Heaven who watches over us all. 

Grandy belonged to the 11th Airborne Division, the Angels. As such, Heaven has gained another Angel to give the forces of evil as much Hell as possible. I love you, Grandy. Please watch over us and be my own personal Guardian Angel. Don't forget to polish your boots, Lieutenant. We need you to fight for us now. Until I make the "final jump" as see you again, God be with us both. 

-Jeremy

When Grandpa Reports to Heaven
by Jeremy C. Holm

There are people who believe 
that angels don't fall.
But let me tell you of one angel,
who always stood tall. 

We knew him as "Grandy,"
our grandpa was he.
1st Lieutenant Andrew J. Carrico.
he was our hero, you see.

He defended the world,
from the forces of evil.
As U.S. Army paratroopers,
these angels fought like devils.

Across the Pacific, 
they fell from the skies.
They fought in streets and on beaches
and in jungles full of flies.

With two purple hearts
and two bronze stars,
he was a leader of heroes,
and commanded them far.

After the war ended,
he lived a long life.
And my beloved grandma,
he made her his wife.

He taught me to swim,
and dive in the pool.
He called every birthday,
Grandpa was amazingly cool.

He always stood firm,
he always stood tall.
in my eyes, then and now,
He never could fall.

No matter the storm,
Grandy never did break nor bend.
But this life is fleeing,
and we all know it will end.

Ninety-nine years, 
on this beautiful earth!
Now his spirit's in Heaven,
and rest his eternal berth.

He's reported to St. Peter, Sir,
his former comrades saluted and embraced.
And in God's loving care,
there's a smile on the Lord's face.

A hero's welcome he was given,
a crown of glory he has earned.
his spirit is with us always,
our hearts within us burn.

Heaven gained another angel,
a warrior of truth and light.
And now in his God's service,
for each of us he'll fight.

He's taken his final jump,
on the final flight he can be seen.
And while we say goodbye to grandpa,
he enjoys Heaven's canteen!

So throw one back for me, Grandy,
although I do not drink.
Until I die, a day won't go by,
that of you I do not think.

 

*Note: This essay is the seventh of seven authored by Jeremy for the LDS Midsingle (31-45+) community. The opinions and thoughts shared therein are his own and unless otherwise noted all names and circumstances of stories have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals involved. 


 


jeremy c holm bobsled authorMy dear friends, I know it has been a few weeks (months?) since my last post and for that I apologize. This Summer has been, well, shall we say a little hectic. In fact, I'm not sure I have ever faced a period as difficult as this one has been. In a way, I understand what Rocky felt like when he was fighting Drago in "Rocky IV"; it was just punch after punch after punch.

At the risk of sounding like a whiny baby, there have been days, even weeks, where I was not sure I could keep going. I wanted to throw in the towel in moments, moments when the fears or tears were almost too much. Despite my attempts to dig deep into faith and optimism and trust in God,...life has almost felt like it was repeating Drago's words to Rocky when he said, "I must break you."

Maybe I'm not as strong as the world thinks, or as I thought. Despite training for the Olympics, publishing books, speaking on stage, graduating college and all the "great works" that I've tried to do...I'm still 100% human. And as the punches kept coming, as the adversities kept growing, as the fears rolled over me like waves, as the dark nights grew darker... I guess I felt like the prophet Joseph Smith in Liberty Jail when he cried out, "Oh, God, where art thou?" And while I know that God was helping me make changes, to grow, to leave old ways behind, and that for that I should drop to my knees in gratitude (which I have), there is also the truth that my soul, my heart, even my body and mind have felt pushed beyond their limits.

I also know that many strong, beautiful souls in this world can relate. Maybe you can. Maybe it is your coworker or roommate or friend or a family member who feels the weight of some burden on their shoulders. And that is ok; we are in this life to be tested, and to be tested you have to have resistance and opposition. But that does not mean that we have to do it alone. Ever. 

*Note: This essay is the sixth of seven authored by Jeremy for the LDS Midsingle (31-45+) community. The opinions and thoughts shared therein are his own and unless otherwise noted all names and circumstances of stories have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals involved. 


 

Jeremy C Holm bobsled author speakerHaving just returned from seven glorious days on an Alaska cruise with an amazing group of midsingles, I believe my waistline suffers from post-cruise poundage. But the views were incredible, the wildlife breathtaking and the memories will last a lifetime. So thank you everyone who joined us! We are already working on our next adventure: a Western Caribbean Cruise.

The Alaska cruise gave me a lot of time to think, perhaps too much. Like many of you, my thoughts flutter between faith and the burdens I carry, hope and the fears about the future. As an LDS midsingle I have a sure foundation through our religious beliefs, but life has a way of giving us exhilarating highs mixed with heart-wrenching lows.

I had to laugh when the other day someone said, "Jeremy, you've had such an amazing life, the kind I wish I had!" I smiled, but my thoughts turned to all the trials and fires and fears and adversities that I have gone through. I think that sometimes as midsingles we look on other midsingles's lives with perhaps a touch of envy. I get it. Sometimes it is the job, the appearance, the family, the spirit, the joy, and so on. I think that is a very human trait, albeit one that Heavenly Father has asked us to resist because it usually leads to sorrow, perhaps even depression, and a certain blindness to the blessings that He has given us already.

Let's face it: adversity can be hard. Whether it is a brutal divorce, the loss of a job, a wayward child, financial stress, or just a dream we reached for but have yet to achieve, trials can pierce our hearts and like a weary boxer leave us struggling to stay on our feet.  

I feel like this year has been a year of painful growth for me. Perhaps I better understand Job and everything he went through. Luckily I have had some great friends, good family, Priesthood leaders and support to get through everything so far. But as they say, I'm not out of the woods yet so my heart and my soul feel a bit of the weight of this world. And it is that weight that I want to write about. 

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