Sam’s Troops Back Home

Sam’s medical status:  Erin said Sam had a nice quite day with no major complications.  I have to add some more corrections about Sam’s breathing.  I said a couple of days ago that the trach tube was removed.  That is not exactly correct.  Sam was taken off the ventilator, so he is breathing on his own—but they are still giving him oxygen through the trach tube.  Erin also said today that he is starting to swallow on his own—so she was very excited to tell us about that. 

ROTC Buddies:  My wife and I were high school sweethearts and were both in “the band”.  We had a wonderful time and had a built-in group of friends to hang out with.  Of course we were hoping both our daughters would follow in our footsteps and we would get to relive our childhood by being “band parents”.  But—to our chagrin, both girls decided high school ROTC was going to be their thing.  So, we became ROTC parents instead.  In fact, my wife was known as “the ROTC mom” and most of the ROTC kids (around 120 in all) called her “Mom”. 

Sam and Erin ROTC picture Now when I was in high school, the only kids that got teased and picked on more than the band nerds, was the ROTC nerds (more on that later).   Both Sam and Erin went to Casa Robles high school in Orangevale California.  By the time Erin was a junior and Sam was a sophomore, they were an item and have been ever since.  They even got their “ROTC” pictures taken together.

If you’ve been checking out the comments section for each one of these blogs you may have noticed a thread of former ROTC buddies leaving messages of encouragement for Sam and Erin.  When we first received word that Sam was injured in Iraq, it wasn’t long before Sam and Erin’s high school ROTC buddies started calling, texting, emailing and “mySpace’ing” each other to spread the word to pray for his recovery.  Even though they are all out of high school (many have joined the military) they are still a close knit group and consider themselves “family”. 

I received a wonderful email today from Kalista, a former ROTC buddy of Erin and Sam and I wanted to relate to everyone her memories of Sam and how he affected her and others in ROTC.  The email speaks so eloquently of Sam’s character and good nature. (note:  Both Sam and Erin were the commanders of their high school ROTC when they were seniors)

“In ROTC we were a family.  We still ARE a family.  I wanted you to know and please pass this on to Erin if possible, she needs to know just how much we are all thinking of her and Sam… 

…There are many of us who did not want to be in ROTC at first—who didn’t feel welcomed or anything like that.  SAM lead us into the family that we know today.  He was the first to greet us, the one who stood up for us around campus when everyone else made fun of us.  He introduced us to everything, and made us want to stay in ROTC!…

…When we all found out what happened to Sam, it was like we all took a blow because he is like the brother that
everyone wants.  Someone to look up to, someone who you could depend on— a true HERO!”

Thank you Kalista for you heartfelt email.  You made the ROTC mom cry with your beautiful words! smile_wink Thank you to all the other former ROTC buddies of Sam and Erin for spreading the word that Sam needs your prayers.  And lastly, thank you all for taking the time to leave comments in the blog post.  Erin does occasionally get time to read them and I know they warm her heart and give her hope.  Erin, I hope you are also reading the comments to Sam!  

ROTC Nerds of yesterday…American Hero’s of Today!


9 Responses to Sam’s Troops Back Home

  1. Erin Nichols says:

    Hey! Quit calling us nerds! Nah, we embrace our nerdiness; it’s what makes us cool. Thank you Kalista. I do get to read this most days, and each comment, even the ones that make me cry, lift my spirit and are constant reminders of how wonderful the man I married is. Again, more thank you’s to everyone for reading and commenting on the blog, and most of all thank you for praying. God’s word will wake Sam, so pass it on.

  2. We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you.
    Collossians 1:13


  3. Lisa Filbert says:

    I can honestly say, I don’t know who I would be today if I hadn’t gone into ROTC, and like many others, I wasn’t really that into it when I started… But within a few weeks, I was part of a huge family. And as a Family, we stick together, and even though we may not have seen each other, or even talked all that often since, when it comes down to it, I would still go to bat for any one of them. I look back at my ROTC days with such fondness because it gave me the opportunity to meet and (hopefully) mentor so many wonderful people. It was my priviledge to know Sam and Erin in school, and all the other great kids who came through those doors. Even though we’re all grown up now, you’ll always be my kids. Always. And like any good den mother, we take care of our own. I may not be there physically, but every night I sit with Sam and hold his hand in my dreams, and I know he knows how much everyone is thinking about him.

  4. Julie Neria the "ROTC" mom says:

    As the “ROTC” mom, I was privileged to meet such incredible young people. I got to work with them and be around their infectious spirits. I was happiest as a mom when I was the the ROTC kids. Sam was the young man who stood out the most to me. He was the most gracious, kind spirited and giving cadet that I met. Although many cadets touched my life deeply, Sam by far was the cadet who stood out to me. Perhaps that’s why I wanted Erin to have him for a life partner. Thank you to all you cadets who touched my life. You will always be in my heart.

  5. Nicole Moen says:

    Wow, I remember before I went into ROTC. My older brother Jason Curry was in ROTC and he is the reason why I joined. I didn’t want to join because I thought they were all a bunch of nerds…LOL. But like I said he was my older brother, and he didn’t give me much of a choice. Before I joined ROTC and before I went to Sumerleadership Camp, I got my upper lip bitten off by my dog. I still had to go to Summerleadership because my brother said I needed to. My lip was all tore up and I had so many stitches. For those of you who remembered it was not a pretty sight. I remember my first day of Summerleadership, I was very scared and nervous. I’m a very shy and quiet person, especially since I had my lip stiched up. I was sitting in the classroom all alone and by myself. i heard a famliar voice and i looked up, it was Sam Nichols. My old best friend from 5th and 6th grade. He brightened my day. I felt all alone untill I saw him. We started talking as if no time had passed us by. I remember everyone was asking about my lip and wondered what happened, not Sam. He never asked. As we were talking I told him I knwo you are wondering about my lip, and he said “No, actually I didn’t even notice” It made me feel confident, and that it wasn’t really that big of a deal. That was Sam, one amazing classy guy!!!

  6. Kelley Nichols says:

    Hi Lisa, Thanks for holding my baby’s had. That’s what I do too. Right now one of his hands is yellow from all the betadine but we’ll get that off. The other hand is very swollen with fluid. Erin holds that hand most of the day. She has been a rock! She prays over him constantly. I know he likes the prayers. He said so to my aunt in her dream. So keep it up. Tell everybody he likes it! We also talk alot about everyday things so he can hear what’s going on. Sometimes he gets teased by us. He has had so much tape on many areas of his body that it looks like someone tried to give him a wax treatment. Erin said she would shave the rest of his leg and his eyebrow went down as if to say NO! She told him he better wake us so he could fight her on that one. Anyway, His body is doing everything it’s supposed to do as far as healing goes. A little fever today but nothing a little Tylenol won’t cure. We can’t stop staring at his beautiful face. His hair is getting a little long for his taste. The “high” is fine but the “tight” is not so tight! I’ll be home next week. Have to come back home for a medical thing so I’ll be around a little bit. I can’t believe it was my Lisa Filbert that commented on this blog. Didn’t know you went to Casa with the kids. We were sitting in the computer lounge. Ali, Erin, Julie, and I when I mentioned your name and we put it all together. That’s when Ali text you! Glad it was you! Love you lots and see you soon. 😉

  7. Kalista Kersten says:

    Its amazing how one person or one action can bring back such fond memories and lead us to pass that action on. You see it every year, as generations pass on those memories still linger in that room, and in our hearts. Cadets of the unit today know who Mrs. Neria is, who Sam and Erin are because of how often they are talked of and how that feeling of a family, of our unit has passed down to those after us! We will all pray til sam is home safe, alive and well!

  8. Liz Finberg-Timmerman says:

    Wow, i havent been able to check the site in a few days. My mom made me join ROTC my freshman year to hopefully instill some values and maybe a sense of self respect. She said after my freshman year if it wasnt for me i could quit. If anybody knows me they probably know that ROTC wasnt really my thing. I got the two left feet award even though i have some awesome moves on the dance floor. The only job for my social butterfly personality was Public Affairs and when i graduated as a Senior i graduated with the ranking of CMSgt. only with the help of many of my peers including Sam. Sam really wanted me to get another stripe before i graduated, i really just did it to get him off my back. So why did i stay doing something that wasnt my knack for all four years of high school? It was because I became part of a family. I was an only child and my mom worked alot so when i met my ROTC family I didnt want to let go of that. Junior and Senior year Sam and Erin became a big part in my family. I love you guys! Thanks for being my family! God bless!!!!!!!

  9. The Diaz Family (Ricky&Crystal) says:

    We are praying for you Sam and your whole family. We still have your picture on our frig with the group when you guys went on a hiking type trip. Ricky and Crystal and myself are praying for you and thinking of you all of the time.
    Take Care Erin
    Linda Diaz

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