Saturday, May 02, 2009

Stephen Allen Helmericks

Steve Helmericks is yet another friend who, in February 2008, left us much too soon. He joined our class during our Junior year, transferring in from Wyoming. His ready humor and fine personality enabled him to find quick acceptance. He played on the B team during our Junior year in order to satisfy the UIL transfer rules.

During our Senior year, Steve was on the varsity team but played linebacker as understudy to Sam Scott and Louis Miller, two returning lettermen, and I don’t think he got much playing time. As I recall, he was a rugged and reliable performer.

I seem to recall Steve getting himself into some hot water with the school authorities that led to a pretty severe reprimand, but recall none of the details—only that the story was a persistent one. Perhaps it was this that led to his being cast in the starring role for an end of the year variety show parody where he played a thinly disguised version of principal Roy Johnson calling for “fifteen for the team.”

Steve was a U.S. Army veteran of Vietnam. And he is interred in the Chattanooga National Cemetery. Whether he was a combat veteran or not I don't know; however, it matters little as it was a life altering event in the lives of many of our generation. The words of another veteran of that war describe pretty well what most others cannot express:

"I literally prayed the entire walk to the Wall, asking for guidance, asking for continued strength.... on those occasions that I saw people looking at me I came to realize that:

"1. Most people have some sort of fear about seeing someone carry our flag: they would look away and give an impression that "they did not see me" ..."I was not there...."

"2. Some people would see the flag and look down "knowing" I was on "pilgrimage" to the WALL, and they did not want to look into yet another vet's eyes...

"3. There were those FEW who would would look me straight in the eyes and say something like "God Bless you or WELCOME HOME" .... SOMETHING to indicate that they KNEW.....and had been "there" themselves...."

God bless you, Steve. Welcome home to a good kid who raised a nice family.

Adios, my Brother.

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