Father and Son Marine Corps Stories

Eric and Erin at her birthday party

Such a busy time of year!, but I wanted to get out one last blog post before Christmas.  It’s not really busy for the same reasons it has been in the past though.   It really a relief to not be running around doing last minute shopping.  I keep getting reminded all the time of the kindness of so many people.  This past week, my wife and I were honored guest at the Vietnam Veterans of America Sacramento Valley – Chapter 500  monthly meeting.  They gave us a wonderful gift to help out with the cost of driving down to Palo Alto and spending Christmas day with Erin and Sam.  

Erin mentioned to me yesterday that they are getting so many Christmas cards from all over the place.  She said they’re getting five to ten cards a day! 

To all of you, friends and family, who are supporting and praying for Sam and Erin:  You’re prayers are being answered and you have given the Nichols and Neria families a wonderful gift in your prayers and the love and caring you have shown us….Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I have a special guest writer for today’s post.  Sam’s father wrote about a couple of wonderful father-son experiences he had with Sam that he has graciously agreed to share with everyone through this blog.  But before that, here is a quick (and exciting) update on Sam:

Monday December 21st, 2007:  Sam said his first word yesterday!  Well, sort of first word, “uh-huh”!  Erin asked him a question (I forgot what it was), but instead of using his finger signing, he said “uh-huh”.  Erin asked him the question again and he repeated the word.  Both her and the speech therapist looked at each other in disbelieve!  Today he also used the same word.  It’s a baby-step, but he is on his way. 

Sam has had a cough the last 4-5 days.  He’s had his chest x-rayed a couple of times this week and it has been clear both times, so Erin doesn’t think it’s a cold.  Probably allergies or something like that.

Eric’s letter: 

Hello to all….I want to thank you all for remembering to pray for Sam’s recovery. It is slow but constant and the progress is indeed measurable…It is obvious to me that the miracle is just not Sam’s restoration; but the ripples that move away from Sam affecting so many others from around the world…God will make good use of this to further his designs for all of us….

I wanted to take the time to tell a story of Sam and what kind of a man and son that he is….where his heart is and the love he so demonstrated for his Dad…

First I think it is well known that he could have chosen any branch of the service and would have succeeded anywhere he went. I think he chose the Marines to please me and so that we would have something to share…he had heard many stories and although he only had the opportunity to do the Air Force JR, ROTC program, there was a certain mystique about the Corps…I must admit I was pleased when he left to talk to an Army recruiter, but came home and announced his decision to be a Marine. I immediately felt ill as I knew he would be put in harm’s way and somehow I contributed to that…Nothing makes you take it to God faster than the thought your kids may be in danger….but on with the story…

When he came home from boot camp he was fit and extremely muscular…(Marine Corps boot camp will do that to you)…The boys had never beaten me at arm wrestling although they were getting closer and closer as I developed tendonitis in my elbow…we playfully challenged each other regularly and this time was no different so it was on…Sam and I on the kitchen table and the rest of the family were interested spectators…I think they saw Sam as a possibility to put some humility in this swaggering brute…It was like arm wrestling a fire plug. He was so strong and seem to do it effortlessly. We both seem to get some advantage and then lose it…and then the pain in my elbow…oh shoot I thought (only I didn’t say shoot), this was it; I am going to have to relinquish my crown…and then with one last burst of strength I dropped his arm to the table…Amidst the laughs and jeers of the onlookers, I saw something that I’ll never forget as long as I live….Sam leaned back in his chair a twinkle in his eye; a sheepish grin on his handsome face and I knew then and there he had let me win…Did he think my ego so fragile that a loss would do me irreparable harm? No I just think he wanted me to have that continued victory because he loved me. That selflessness that made him a Marine’s Marine was so aptly demonstrated there that night….but that was only the first time he had done this…

Donny and I had gone to Oceanside the few weeks before he left for his second tour in Iraq…He and Erin were packing and getting ready for her to move to Citrus Heights and he to leave for the big sand box…Sam and Erin wanted to take us to “Medieval Times” for an afternoon of fun and games…It was great fun…after he wanted to take us to a private indoor firing range to practice for an upcoming qualification that would help determine his promotion to Sergeant. As we walked in, Sam wanted to compete for targeted
rounds and I told him loser would have to pay for dinner at the “Lobster Taco Shack” he had been telling us about for two days…he agreed…Shooting a weapon for a Marine is like riding a bike and not forgotten so I did well from the beginning…He let me shoot first and he would follow up…When we came down to the last of the competition it was neck and neck and his last target showed three rounds just outside of the first ring…It was a
fraction of an inch, but I had won…Erin even said at the time, “Your Dad got ya honey”! Of course I pridefully accepted my victory and thought that I should be shooting competitively somewhere..Ha! About two weeks later, I had gotten word that he had scored “Expert” with both the rifle and hand guns…a dual expert and then it hit me…he pushed those rounds outside of the circle just to let me win. He could have placed those slugs exactly where he chose and he did…By this time he was in Iraq and I haven’t as of this date ever talked to him about that contest, but I will someday….

So you see your prayers aren’t wasted on some undeserving and selfish man that only thinks of himself…he is giving, loving, and full of compassion for all those around him. I am proud to be his Dad as I am of all my sons, but this is about Sam and I wanted you all to know what I know to be true about  him as well……



9 Responses to Father and Son Marine Corps Stories

  1. Well, what a blessing Eric to read this. It only brings back all of the memories of or sons. I have yet to arm wrestle our Army son David yet, since he has come back from Iraq, but he has been working out for years now, and my bad shoulders will probably give him the victory this time, for I am still undefeated, too. David has developed some big guns. I just want you to know that Susan and are are following Sam’s progress all of the time, and the great thing about it is that God sees it all, created it all, and He will see Sam and Erin through all of this. He made the lame to walk, the blind man to see, and even made a donkey talk, so he can sure bring Sam’s voice back, too. Keep the Faith. Merry Christmas to all of you, and enjoy God’s Christmas present that Jesus delivered to you….Sam!

  2. Debbie Bickford says:

    I want to wish Sam and Erin a Merry Christmas. I recieve the updates on Sam’s progress and I want you to know that I am excited over every little thing that happens.
    Sam and Erin, you are in my prayers during this holiday season. You’ve got a cheering squad all the way over here in Maine. Sam, you keep up the great work!!! God has many plans for you!!! Hugs and kisses to both of you.
    Debbie in Maine
    Maine Troop Greeter

  3. Danalee says:

    Eric, thank you for sharing examples of Sam’s goodness. It brought tears to my eyes as I read. When I sing at Mass on Christmas Day I’ll praise God for his Son and for his continued presence in Sam’s life. Jesus is HERE! Alleluia!

  4. Mike and Dolly White says:

    Erin It was nice to see you again this year at survior. Both Dolly and I want to wish you and Sam a very special Holiday. I have faith that that MARINE of yours will make it though this, he is very lucky to have a wife like you at his side.
    Happy Holiday

    Mike and Dolly

  5. Kris Abbruzzi says:

    Hi Sam, Erin & Family!

    Just stopping by to let you all know that you continue to be in my thoughts and my prayers each and every day. I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, celebrating the miracle of Sam. Thank you so much Eric for your wonderful stories, they brought tears to my eyes and happiness to my heart. I can only imagine how proud you are of Sam, and I would guess that you are proud of yourself too, for raising such an incredible human being. Well if you’re not proud of yourself, you should be! 🙂

    And I also cried when I read that Sam has uttered his first “words” – how incredible! What a day that must have been for you all. You’re getting there Sam, yes you are!! Keep up the great work and never ever give up! And special thoughts, prayers, support are always with you Erin, and the Nichols & Neria families. May you all get the peace, comfort and strength that you need every day.

    God bless you all and I can’t wait to see the joy and progress that this new year is going to bring!!

    – Kris, a Soldier’s Angel from RI

  6. cerberusblog says:

    Found your blog from a Google search for the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund, and have spent about two hours now reading posts. You have done a wonderful job telling Sam’s story and I am in awe of the love you express for your son-in-law in your writing. I added my prayer for Sam to all of the thousands of others that have been said for his recovery.

    I was researching the IMSFF, a charity I have supported in the last year and a half, because, while I support several organization with donations I try to make one large donation each year to a single group just to make a greater impact. While trying to make the decision on which organization to make my larger contribution to in the upcoming new year, I was searching for stories that would help me finalize that choice. What I read here was powerful and it clearly illustrated how the IMSFF is really helping families of injured Marines be with their loved ones during their hospitalization and recovery. Being there as advocates for their care, or just to hold their hand, is wonderful medicine. Thank you for sharing the story of Sam and his road to recovery.

    Like other former Marines, I am immensely proud of men like Sam who display all of the wonderful qualities that make for outstanding Marines. Reading the beautiful things that you and others have said here about Sam makes me very confident that the Marine Corps is in good hands, and that our traditions of loyalty and service to the defense of our nation are secure.

  7. Cpl Joseph Moore says:

    lets go sam. keep it up.

  8. a Kilo mom says:

    Sam & Erin,
    Have read your blog (good job Tony) from the beginning. Hope your families enjoyed the Xmas holidays being together and I look forward to reading more about Sam’s continuing recovery in the New Year. Keep up the good work Sam!

  9. Lois Brauer says:

    Sam & Erin, I praise God for what He has done in your lives. I know you have faced and are facing many challenges; but you have a terrific support team and God on your side. May He continue to bless you both with love, comfort, peace, and everything you need now and in the days ahead.

    In His love,

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