Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The happy faces of Mary and Ed boarding the Queen Victoria for a trip through the Panama Canal and then to Florida.  Sixteen Days of comfort and excess.  Bob McElroy will be glad to know that this trip through Panama did not include any AC130s.  Mary walked in the jungle in Costa Rica, but my wheels are not working well so I shuffled around the port.  Canal looks a lot more prosperous than I was last there for the Great Noriega Hunt.  Mary scored some antiques and jewelry in Aruba and .Grand Caymans.  We went to Virginia from Florida for a visit with Meredith, Matt and Kids..  Great Time, as usual by the time we started for home I was coming down with some virus.  Ended up being two viruses.

This put the hookup we planned with Cris and Sue Sullivan in Genoa NV for the Cowboy Poetry Festival in the toilet.  Mary caught my stuff and is still sick, but things are moving up.  Tomorrow NPS is giving me a retirement send off.  Bottom Line, we are on the mend with a few dips.

I have appended below a Memorial Day piece that will explain to some my past and future.  I figured it was time before I run out of time.

Semper Fi


Memorial Day

Khe Sahn combat base , Viet Nam spring of 1967.  I stink, my fighting hole stinks, the red dirt sticks  to me like paint, and my pillow is one of the thousand sand bags we have filled.  It's getting dark so it's time to put out the claymores.  We just hope the mist does not set in and take away all our visibility leaving just the sound of our wire rattling.  We are prepared for a visit by the North Vietnamese Army, and the ritual struggle with the rats that will invade our fighting holes in the darkness.  My eyes are still stinging from the heat tab that has warmed my coffee, when I hear "coming in".  The next moment Lt Gatlin Howell is in my sand bagged castle.  Lt Howell is in Bravo Company, 1st Battalion ,9th Marines (B 1/9).  I am not even in his unit, but we are his Marines.  He knows we are ready, but he is doing his head check on us.  Is the listening post out?  Are the left and right limits in?  How are you doing?  He always appears when the shooting starts and he leads from the front and sets the example.  Some how when he leaves, my fighting hole does not stink so bad.  We take some heavy hits, but B 1/9 moves on, and I eventually end up back in the States.  Lt Howell left me with the gold standard for combat leadership.  Lead from the front, no compromise of your honor, courage, commitment, and listen to the voices in the fighting hole. 
Sixteen years later, I am on the bridge of the USS Denver in a training exercise in  Hawaii.   It is a warm dark evening, and we are discussing Viet Nam.  I present Lt Gatlin Howell as my gold standard for combat leadership.  That is when I find out that my commander, Col "Mac" Ratcliff, was with Lt Howell when he was killed at Con Thien.  At that moment Lt Howell became more than my example.  He became my burden and my ghost.  So who is this ghost?  Lt Howell was of native American extraction born in Oklahoma, but finished high school in Coloma, California.  He enlisted in the US Marines in 1954-55 for four years, and then took the GI Bill graduating from San Francisco State College. With a teaching credential, he joined the faculty of Pelton Junior High School in San Francisco.  He has a wife and a young son when the Marines land in Viet Nam.  He believes it is his duty to get into the fight.  He is an ancient Lieutenant of 31 years when he deploys to Viet Nam on 9 July 1966.  He will win the Navy Cross and he will die on July 7, 1967.  One month before his rotation date home and four days before his birthday.  Lt Howell is buried at the San Francisco National Cemetery.  He left behind his wife and two sons.  They lost a very special person.  His sons did not get to play catch with him.  They lost a rock to build a family on.  Their sacrifice left us with an almost impossible standard to live up to.
A couple of months ago, at a regimental celebration, a Master Sergeant was hugging me and sobbing.  He was thanking me for the leadership he learned in Somalia when I was his commander.  At that moment, I realized he was not hugging me, he was hugging Lt Gatlin Howell.  Veterans around the world search battlefields, monuments, and graveyards for their comrades that lost limbs, lives, and souls in the service of their nation.  They are searching for an answer. Is the life that I got to live worthy of those who lost theirs?  This Memorial Day,  I will make my walk to tell Lt Howell that the flame he lit in me still flickers in the Marines that he has touched through me.  This will close a circle. This Memorial Day, we should all stop in awe of their sacrifice. 

Colonel Edward John  Lesnowicz Jr.  USMC (ret)

Sunday, February 23, 2014

AAR February 2014

It has been a long time for this update, but it has been a busy six months.  I will call it the good, the bad, and the ugly.  The one thing that Mary and I have learned is that a plan may be good for 72 hrs if your lucky,

The good.  My cancer is in total remission.  We know it likes to come back in a hurry, but we have been in remission for several months.  The doctors are starting to reduce my immune suppression in hopes that my grafted Tcells can handle the infections.

The bad is that the side effects of the graft and the infections still keep coming.
My walking has been reduced to the old man shuffle with a cane if I am smart.  I have a real chance of tipping over.  My legs and feet totally numb.
I have been readmitted to the hospital several times for pneumonia , but I recently warded off readmission for the flu as I was able to fight that off with take home antibiotics.
Finally, I got GVHD in the mouth and throat.  This caused the removal of all my teeth at the Stanford surgical unit.  It has taken a while to get me squared away with some dentures so now I am learning to eat, drink, and talk (without a whistle).

So what could be Ugly?  Well there were three of us that started this procedure about the same time, Bill, Kevin, and me.  We are all about the same age which was pushing the acceptability for a transplant.  All started in good shape for the fight.  We all have had prolonged effects, and numerous stays in the hospital.  I would classify all three of us as A types, Businessman, Lawyer and Marine, and capable of the roller coaster ride.  Well Bill died the other day of pneumonia.  Kevin is still in the fight, but is having some heavy rolls.  I have nothing to bitch about other than I still cannot get in the grass to take a pitch.  It is kind of like being a fire team leader that gets across the beach and starts counting noses.

All of the above said, the best was that the 11th Marines invited me to their St Barbra's Day celebration.  Mary said she would drag me down there if I remained healthy.  So, I stayed well and off we went.  I really have to thank those Marines.  They made my day.   There were a bunch of us who had served together.  The Captains were now Colonels and Regimental Commanders, Lts were Bn Commanders, Privates were now the senior enlisted of the Corps.  They had their heads on straight and priorities in the right place.  Told old war stories and answered those WHY questions they did not ask a long time ago.  It is this brotherhood that can sustain you when you start counting noses.

Semper Fi

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


Well, The infections keep coming.  This time it was swelling caused by a cellulitis (?) bacteria.  Good  news is that it only took three days to identify the antibiotic that was required.  Also good is that I am a lot more sensitive to changes in my condition and cannot afford to admire the situation.

So there it is.  We are headed to the mountains this weekend.  I like it a lot better at 5000ft just need to get cleared to fish and able to walk across uneven ground.  Started the reclamation on the Corvette so that Mary and I can go play Route 66 once I get a trip ticket from the doctors.

Thank you for prayers

Semper Fi

Friday, June 7, 2013

AAR for May

You know you are in trouble when the Docs start by discussing your living will.  I didn't make it to Analicia's birthday.  I was in hospital for two weeks while they figured out how to kill (2) bacterial infections, (2) viral infections, (1) fungal infection while not killing my kidneys.  Again I walked out of the hospital, carrying 15 different medications.  I am still not out of the woods, but at least I am home.  Need to start all over on diet, physical therapy, and attitude adjustments.  We also are in Stanford twice a week so lots of road time.  I just need to be careful, a lot more careful than I am accustomed.

Thanks to bicycle team led by the O'Neals at Tahoe for lymphoma.  They raised over 11k.  There is a research requirement, particularly AITL,  as medicine is a science, but when the patient shows up it becomes a art.

So there it is.  

I have a brand new granddaughter born 6/4/13, Julia Marie Lesnowicz.  This makes seven grandkids, so need to stick around to get some fingerprints on them.  

The doctors are a little amazed that I have been able to pull out of these last two infection events.  They say my body is responding like a twenty year old,  just need to get kidneys to come to attention.    It is not the body.  It is what the Corps gave a long time ago.  We just don't know how to lay down and die, on the battlefield or the bed.  

Semper Fi 


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Situation Report May 2013


Hello Everyone.  I know it has been a long time since our last report.  Dad has been up and down.  Here is the story in a nutshell.

After the stem cell transplant they suppress dad's immunity with drugs.  They do this so that the NEW stem cells can grow.  Unfortunately, every time they try to take dad off these drugs he gets a Graft-Vs-Host Disease.  His body just doesn't want to kindly accept the new stem cells.  Dad has never kindly accepted much so that's no surprise.  So, they keep him on the drugs which allow every single flea bitten virus, bacteria or over all "no thank you" floating around to attack him.

It's a game of chess.  There truly is no other way to put it. 

  Dad unfortunately seems to catch "no thank you's" about as well as he catches fish.  He can catch a fish people.  He was checked into Stanford AGAIN last Friday.  I went to see him yesterday and he was in high spirits.  He seemed to be pulling out pretty well and promised to be home for my birthday on Saturday.  

My mom just called me and told me that dad is being transferred to the ICU at Stanford.  His kidneys are not kidney-ing...oh it's a word.  They need to figure this out.  I will update you as more news comes in.  Thank you for your patience on my blogging.  I can give you a pile of excuses but dad would just say for me to go get the dictionary and look up where sympathy is located.  Right, well if you haven't heard that Ed-ism I will save it for later.

More soon. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Update on Dad

Hello Everyone,

Your prayers, love and support are working!!  Dad has used up another one of his many lives and surprised everyone with his miraculous recovery.  It looks like he is going to kick this thing.  The antibiotics did their magic to the meningitis. He has one more week of the antibiotics to complete the dosage. They detected a gall bladder infection which was addressed last week.  It may come to the removal of his gall bladder, but not until after he has regained some strength. 

I will tell you that its amazing what a weeks time will hold.  We went from sending Matt home from overseas to be by Dads deathbed to Matt watching the Broncos game with dad in the hospital on Saturday.  I visited Dad in the hospital today and he doesn't appear to have lost much if any of his brain function.  He is slow but eager to get out of the hospital.  The doctors said he needed to be up and walking before they would release him...what do you know? he walked two laps around the ward and up a few steps. He has a long road of rehabilitation to get his strength back up but he is ready for the challenge with a renewed spirit.

He is not completely out of the woods but we are all happy that he is with us keeping up the good fight.

Thanks again for all of your prayers.


Monday, January 7, 2013


We need your prayers!!!

Dad was rushed to the hospital on Saturday with a serious infection.  He has Streptococcus pneumoniae bacterial meningitis.  Dad was transferred to Stanford via life flight from Santa Cruz on Sunday.  Dad really is in the fight now!  Yesterday the concern was that he wake up from his state of confusion and inability to speak.  Today we see an improvement from yesterday.  Dad recognized mom, said "hi" and gave a little wave.  He also said he wanted a Pepsi and gave one of his patented sideways "Ed" glances when we said "no".

He is in the thick of it.  When asked what I should put in the blog he said "holy shit!".  So he is still in there between his in and out of consciousness.

Dad is tough but he needs all the good juju he can get.

Please pray for the strength to fight this most recent battle.