This is a Navy “sea story” and tribute. It’s quite possibly one of the most heartfelt posts I will ever make.
CAPT Bernie Poindexter, MSC, USN, FACHE is a long-time dear friend who passed away this week. I can tell you so many really good stories about this amazing person, but instead I will tell you about how our long friendship first came to be.
So here I was, a junior Medical Service Corps (MSC) officer in a foreign land, Okinawa, Japan in 1994. I was the Director for Administration for a large Naval dental command. We had around 60 dentists plus all their technicians and assistants at several dental clinics spanning from Japan to Hawaii.
It was a dream job for a young MSC officer, but working at a dental command and logistically located with the Marines (green-side) as opposed to the Navy (blue-side), having just arrived, I was isolated from the other healthcare administrators and allied health scientists who were my peers.
Out of no where comes our next door neighbor, Bernie Poindexter, a fellow MSC officer who headed materials management at the Naval hospital. I had only met him one time, briefly. He invited me to the quarterly MSC luncheon at the Naval hospital, so I could network with other MSC Officers.
Feeling a bit like a fish out of water, I was nervous about attending my first MSC officer luncheon. Bernie was not going to be in attendance, and he was the only person I would have known there. However, upon arrival, I was given an open-arm welcome by the entire MCS community! The officers told me that my friend, Bernie, told them “she’s good people” and to make me feel welcome.
I was good people?
The term has evolved to imply that they are not only good, but they are “one of us: one of the folk: the salt-of-the-earth, everyday working class people without pretension.”
I never heard anyone call me that! Incidentally, I recently looked up the origin of this phrase. This is a commonly used colloquial idiom among American southerners, thought to have originated as a coded way to describe people who were anti-slavery and anti-Ku Klux Klan.
This humbled me…and quite possibly, led to my fruitful military career. I was immediately accepted into the MSC community and found my groove as a junior officer. From that point on, many doors opened for me, including a graduate degree from George Mason University and an eventual faculty appointment in the Preventive Medicine Department at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, MD. I also feel he was secretly instrumental in my promotions over the years. His word went a long way in the Navy Medical Department. Why?
Because he was good people!
While in Japan, we frequented the County Fair, a great little bar located in the heart of Naha, the capital city of Okinawa. We learned of this place because Bernie’s blue grass band regularly played here. Oh did I forget to mention Bernie was an accomplished banjo player?
Bernie and his wife Pama were our close friends and neighbors, not only for three years in Japan, but also for the five years I was stationed in the Washington, D.C. beltway. My husband and I both retired from the Navy in 2003, but Bernie continued on, recently retiring as a distinguished war hero.
But Bernie was not only a war hero, he and Pam had become family. My children commonly refer to them as their second mom and dad. This last year has been hard on us all, especially Pam. She really gave it her all and took excellent care of him, keeping him loved, unconditionally and comfortable, until his very last breath.
My husband, children and I are heartbroken to have lost this genuinely great friend so soon. He fought his cancer with the same fervor as all his successful life’s challenges, but sadly, glioblastoma always ends with an invitation to the pearly gates.
Rest In Peace, my friend. You’ve earned your place in my heart as one of the greats.
Thank you for reading! – Barb, the River Blogger (Btrb)
Feel free to reblog anything I post. I welcome all comments and discussion.
Well written. A great tribute to your friend. Sorry for your loss.
Hello Barb. I found your blog through a link on Suzanne’s Picture Retirement. Thank you for sharing this touching tribute to your friend and colleague. May you be comforted by your many happy memories of him.
[…] He’s Good People – Barb at The River Blogger […]
OMG! Thank you for sharing this! 💗
Beautiful tribute! Sorry for your loss.
This was a beautiful tribute to your dear friend. What a wonderful friendship! I am sorry for your loss.
So sad for your loss of a life long close friendship. Sounds like a very special man. When a soul mate is part of your life it is a wonderful treasured gift. All the best.
Barb and Steve : Jim and I are so sorry for your loss. Your tribute to Bernie was very touching. Love, Liz and Jim
Thank you, Liz.💛
Sorry for your loss.🎗
Such a lovely description of the good life, unmissable! Thank you!
What a wonderful friendship and what a difficult loss. Thank you for sharing.