Late Sunday night I found out that one of my New Cadets from Beast died over Christmas break. As I looked at the publication that outlined how we would conduct his TAPS Vigil tomorrow night, I slowly realized that a person somewhat close to me had passed on. That is the closest I've ever been to death. I wasn't sure how to react, or what to do/say. I got choked up and cried some. I got the details of his death from a close friend who knows these things then sent an email to my subordinate leaders from Beast.
We are all astonished at his death. During Beast he was such a happy-go-lucky kind of guy that was down for anything. In order to break the monotony, Cadet leadership in Beast will often have the New Cadets act out a skit or sing a song or anything that might be remotely funny (but not demeaning to a New Cadet's character). Most New Cadets welcome the opportunity to get a laugh, if only not to have to stand like a pole staring off into the distance.
In this light, I can remember watching New Cadet (NC) Fein escape a rabid, bloodthirsty rabbit that was hot on his trail as he ran back into formation. Another time, we, myself, the PSG and the SLs, found that NC Fein had a special skill: he was a moondancer. He had this crazy looking moondance that tickled everyone.
He was one of a kind and we will all miss him. I think the thing I'm learning the most is to be close to the people I'm in charge of; get to know them. I've thought about this lately as I prepare to graduate and take on a group of soldiers of my own. I know I can't save the world, but I'll try to at least look after my troops.