To the Colby Community, a Marine Says Thank You

 

By Capt. Erik Quist '99, U.S.M.C.
Photography by Brett Buchanan
 

The whole of my Marine Corps career involves positions of mentorship if not outright instruction. Rewarding as the teaching aspect of leadership is, it can come with a side effect; you can find yourself seeking opportunities to impart knowledge, which may narrow your vision. Such was the case during my last meeting with Colby Managing Editor Gerry Boyle ’78

While interviewing me on camera at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio in December, Mr. Boyle asked, “Is there anything you would like to tell the Colby community?” Immediately my mind went to the current student body and my inner instructor came out. As the cameraman packed his gear, that sinking feeling of a forgotten commitment began to develop. I heard my father’s voice, “Perhaps you’d consider taking a moment to reflect and thank those who have selflessly supported you.” Shame on me; please allow me to adjust course.

QuistMr. Joe Boulos ’68. Mr. Boulos was the first Colby alumnus to reach out to me, within days of my injury. Marines are always inspired by those who went before them, and I can only be humbled by his experiences as a Marine aviator in Vietnam. Early on he provided both an “Emblem Injection” (Marine-speak for a rush of pride despite the trials of Marine life; references the Marine Corps emblem) and a Mayflower Hill injection. He religiously checks in on and provides support to me and my wife, Liz Czernicki Quist ’98. Semper Fidelis, Mr. Boulos.

Professor Jim Meehan was the first person I thought of to provide a non-military recommendation when I was applying to the Marine Corps Officer Candidate School. His standards were high and he was appropriately unforgiving to those who did not meet them. There was no Colby professor whose work ethic paralleled the Marine Corps ethos more, and I knew if he felt I was unprepared for the challenge, he would rightfully refuse to write the recommendation. He wrote that recommendation and was bedside in the military hospital at Bethesda, on multiple occasions, nine years later.

Annie ’98 and Craig ’97 Lundsten. Annie and Craig were first on the scene at the hospital bearing magazines, food, and support for Liz in particular. They have always been close friends, and even in the midst of a household move to New England, they were there for us.

Nancy Nasse was my recovery care coordinator at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda. She spent more than her fair share of time bedside offering guidance and humor. She is married to Dave Nasse ’99, a Marine logistician. It cannot be easy providing care, assistance, and levity to injured Marines while your own husband is serving in Afghanistan.

Adam Davis ’99 and Heather Hilton ’99. Both were frequently seen bedside as my recovery progressed; all visits came complete with comfort food. Heather was preparing for a deployment to Iraq at the time. Adam was in the midst of a total home renovation. Thank you guys.

Tony Pasquariello ’99. I read his letter in the fall 2012 issue of Colby. Thank you, Tony, for adding awareness of those classmates serving, and as you stated, thank you for your service, John Ginn ’97 and Ben Lester ’99.

John Maddox ’99. I ran into John Maddox, a Naval lieutenant and surgeon, at Bethesda just days into my stay there. I remembered John’s involvement with the woodsmen’s team, but that was about it. It didn’t matter; he was in my hospital room multiple times to see how I was doing.

Whit Bond ’63 and Marian Leerburger ’84 both heard of my injury through the grapevine. They reached out immediately, offering support and help at any point I needed it. Brent and Jill Stasz Harris, both ’86, met Liz at a lecture Professor Meehan gave in Washington, D.C. They have kept in touch with us, offering any needed support. 

President William “Bro” Adams took time to visit Liz and me early on after surgery. He offered multiple times to help in any way possible. Liz and I could not be more thankful.

To the family of Elizabeth Hanson ’02, the CIA agent who died in Afghanistan. I knew of, but little about, your daughter while at Colby. I can only thank you for creating the hero we have come to know in Elizabeth. She, among others, remains an inspiration and driving force behind recovery and the desire to get back into the fight. God Bless.

To my family. To not consider all of you part of the Colby community would be criminal. I do not know how you remained bedside and sane, and I will hold eternal guilt for putting you through all of it. I am truly lucky to have such a family; one that finds and forever holds the additional strength from such adversity.

I know I have missed some of the Colby community, but to the whole, thank you. 

Marines love the camaraderie and “smallness” of the Corps. It builds lifelong relationships and a huge supporting community. I have experienced nothing like it—with the exception of that of the Colby students, staff, and alumni. I should have said thank you on camera. I hope this communicates my gratitude as well, if not better.

Capt. Erik Quist ’99, U.S.M.C.

Occoquan, Virginia

 
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