Coast Guard Remembered

coast guard c-130

I believe I’ve mentioned in the past that I am the choir director at Saint Lawrence Catholic church in North Highlands California.  North Highlands is also home to the U.S. Coast Guard air station who lost 7 crew members as their C-130 Hercules collided with a Marine Corps Super Cobra helicopter.  With the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan involving our Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force, our Coast Guard sometimes gets forgotten when it comes time to mention the sacrifice that is being made our military.  Hopefully, one day soon, we will no longer have our military sons and daughters in harms way in the Middle East—but the U.S. Coast Guard will always be ready to risk their lives for our country whenever we need them.  Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the Coast Guard members who died recently…and of course with the families of the two Marines who died in the mid-air collision.  When I’m driving in North Highlands and see the big red and white C-130 in the air, I will say a little pray for the men and women of the U.S. Coast Guard.  Thank you for your service and for putting your lives on the line for us.  

From Eric, Sam’s father:  Sam&Erin_11-13-09_CareMeridianI’m often touched by the precious exchange that goes on between Sam and Erin when I’m visiting, but every once in a while he says something or she does something for him that just tugs at the strings of my heart. Yesterday, as I sat and visited with Sam while Erin was out of the room, we talked of many things like Thanksgiving approaching, Darfur, (because he was wearing a shirt that says save it) and where he was in his faith walk for healing.  Erin returned and came up behind him to give him a great  big hug. (See the 1st picture) Since the hospital staff loves Sam and Erin so much, it is not uncommon for Sam to receive such a hug from them as well. I asked him, "do you know who is hugging you"? He looked at me squarely and said, "It’s My Wife". He often refers to Erin as "my wife", but didn’t realize until yesterday what he means when he says it. He holds their relationship so sacred and that he is so grateful for the love that she shows him, that he just can’t help but remind himself that this angelic creature is "his wife".  He is thankful for his many God given blessings of which Erin is the foremost one. I said to him recently, that God orchestrated that He and Erin be together many years ago because He (God) knew that he would need someone extraordinary to stand beside him during this season of challenge in his life. He responded, "I know Dad, I Know". Sam knows, his family (Nichols’ & Nerias’) knows, and we want you all to know as well. 

We apologize for starving you all for news and information regarding Sam and Erin. I can say that I am extra busy at work, that I am a newlywed, or that the class I’m taking is time consuming; and all would be true; but when some people ask me when my next update regarding Sam and Erin is coming, then I trust I’ve waited too long. Sam is doing tremendously! The tests show double digit percentage points of improvement in flexibility, strength, eye coordination, speech patterns and volume, and how far he can turn his head and neck. One day during physical therapy, he was in the standing frame. He was given the bicycle wheel to turn with his arm strength alone. He usually can’t generate much volume to his voice while standing because of the straps that hold him in it; but this day he was at full volume. In addition this day he seemed to be having trouble with the exercise. Carrie, (his therapist) asked him if he didn’t feel like it today as he was having trouble turning the wheel. She told him that he always does this so easily and encouraged him to try harder. In his true fashion, he lowered his head and put his whole heart and soul into the SuperSam_holloween_2009 exercise and in no time was turning the wheel as always. It wasn’t until after he was done, that they discovered that the resistance was set at 3 time his normal routine. He was a tired boy that afternoon, but got loads of accolades from everyone present. It is further evidence that he has dogged determination to achieve any goal or task set before him, and that his spirit is as strong today for his recovery as it was many months ago…A father’s pride knows no bounds.  The 2nd picture is of Sam on Halloween, where Sam was Clark Kent-Superman, and Erin was Lois Lane. This kind of fun and creative thinking is indicative of the everyday options that Erin provides for Sam. We often stop at our favorite coffee shop on the way over and will call Erin to see if she would like one too; she in turn asks Sam if he wants one also…(Sam can’t drink yet by mouth, but that doesn’t stop her from including Sam in the process) Yesterday he asked for his to be with 3 Splendas…I commit to generating an update on more of a regular basis…until then,

Much love,

ali_luis_sam_erin at biblical gardens weddingFrom Tony, Erin’s father:  I wanted to add one more photo to share with everyone.  God actually blessed me and my wife with two beautiful daughters, Erin and Allison.  This past weekend, Allison married Luis.  The photo was taken in the parking lot of the Alta Sierra Biblical Gardens near Grass Valley.  When Allison was a very young girl, my mother took her and Erin to the Biblical Gardens—and during the visit, Allison declared that when she got married, it would be at the Biblical Gardens—and so it was.  It was a beautiful day which was made even more special because both Erin and Sam could be there.  

Peace to all,


11 Responses to Coast Guard Remembered

  1. Lori Peoria says:

    Thank you for the update. I have missed hearing about Erin and Sam! I sat and looked back through the pictures this morning with tears in my eyes. Erin, you are a true angel and a beautiful wife! Sam, you are an awesome Marine! You definitly have the Ooh-Rah!!!

  2. Barbara Sosman says:

    This Veterans Day, it was Sam and Erin who filled my thoughts more than anyone else, although I know others who have served in the military. Their story and their struggles, as well as the wonderful family who supports them, ring with enormous love and faith. May God continue to bless you all.

  3. Larry Wiseman says:

    What a blessing your family has been to me and my wife Susan. God does truly work in ways that are not our own; to see these young people getting married with God as their source, and living through life with God as their ever present help in the good times, and in times of trouble, just encourages me to keep on keepin’ on, and knowing that he that “he that findeth a wife, findeth a good thing”. I still pray all the time for all of you “Para El Sangre De Jesus!” By the Blood of Jesus! Amen.

  4. Danalee Lavelle says:

    To Luis and Ali, all the best to the two of you as you start your journey together and as your young family grows in love and faith. St. Lawrence loves you and will keep you in our prayers.

    To Sam and Erin, God is good! I thank him for sending Sam a strong wife and for the blossoming of their marriage as it continues to survive the roadblocks of life and grows in beauty.

  5. Carol Calloway says:

    Hooray for Sam doing the extra work and hooray for Erin as she continues to encourage Sam in every way. Those two are a match made in heaven.

    Congratulations to Ali and Luis also. I’m sure it meant a lot to both Ali and Erin that Erin and Same could be there. May God bless both couples.

    And as always our prayers are continously with you all.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Erin and Sam,
    You bless me with your daily and unrelenting strength of spirit, a very real inspiration to me. You are both heroes.
    Eric and I, along with our families, continually stand in prayer and faith with you. We believe we will see the fruits of God’s healing power which combines with your tremendous efforts and that He will give you increase in healing and restoration. We thank Him and praise Jesus for it!
    We love both you and your families immensely. The Neria extended family has become an extension of my own. Thank you for being so loving and welcoming.
    God bless you and we’ll see you soon!

    Wendy aka “Dad’s Chic!”

  7. Jeannie says:

    May you all have a blessed holiday season!


  8. Caroline Bruce says:

    Hi Sam, Erin & families!!!

    Glad to hear all the awesome news!!! And Sam going from strength to strength – KEEP up the awesome work!!!

    Thinking of you all & how far you all have come.
    Much love,
    Caroline Bruce (in New Zealand)

  9. The Kjenstad Family says:

    Happy Thanksgiving to a Very Special Couple and their Special Families. God Bless you all. Keeping you all in our prayers. OXOXOX

  10. Kris Abbruzzi says:

    Hi Sam, Erin, and Families –

    Stopping by to let you all know that as always you’re in my thoughts and my prayers. LOVE the new pics and how joyful it was to see Sam eating the punkin pie!!! Praise the Lord!! And I think my next fave is the one with his hand around Allison – makes one warm inside and smile a huge smile.

    Hope you are doing well and feeling well these days Sam, and hope that this Christmas season is a blessed one for you.

    Merry Christmas Sam, Erin, the Nichols and Neria families – and a very Happy New Year as well. Filled with more enormous leaps towards Sam’s Total Restoration. I feel so blessed for the opportunity to watch the miracle that is Sam continue to unfold.

    Thoughts, prayers, support and loads and loads of extra special Angel Hugs are always on their way to you all.

    – Kris, one of your biggest fans and a Soldiers’ Angel from RI

  11. julie says:

    I’m a little late with this reply due to some mail issues, but regardless of any technical problems, I have been keeping all of you in my thoughts and prayers. I’m so thrilled to hear of the leaps and bounds of progress in Sam’s journey. Sam, Erin, Tony, Eric and families…you continue to be an inspiration and that is an understatement! Btw Congratulations Allison and Luis! Big hugs to you all. Merry Christmas and the happiest of New Years.

    Love, Support & Prayers

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