During the past couple of weeks, I have featured two columns written by Missouri Speaker of the House Rod Jetton concerning the death of his friend from his Marine days, Trane McCloud.
Many of you have written to say that you have appreciated these columns. In this third column, Rep. Jetton offers so more thoughts about Lt. McCloud:
So far, I have told you a little bit about Trane's military career and tried to give you an idea of the kind of person he was. I know we all say nice things about those who have passed on, but with Trane it's all been true. The worst I can say about him is he was headstrong, but he was always headstrong at the right time for the right reasons.
This is a guy who prayed before every meal, never lost his cool, always had good advice and never had to be the center of attention. He is the kind of person who makes the very best kind of friend. As I talked to others at his funeral that had served with him they all felt just like me, that he was their best friend.
As good of a Marine as Trane was, he was an even better husband and father. He loved kids. Cassie and I used to take our kids over and let Trane and Maggie watch them when we were at Camp Lejune. The both loved kids and we were always happy to have someone take them for a few hours and give us a break back then.
He and Maggie had three children; Hayden, Grace, and Meghan. Every minute he was not doing something for the Corps, Trane was with his family. He applied the same work ethic to his family as he did to the Marines. I only wish I had the wisdom to find the balance between career and family like Trane did.
They met in Washington, D. C. where she worked for a congressman. Maggie is a Democrat from New York and Trane was a Republican from Tennessee. She is a great lady and they were deeply in love. I can't remember how long they dated before getting married but I know he was very happy to have her as his wife.
They were separated a lot at first because we were on floats and she still worked in Washington. Camp Lejune is in North Carolina so when we were home they did quite a lot of driving to be together. Trane was fortunate to be stationed in the D.C. area a few times during his career, which worked out great for raising a family and allowing Maggie to keep working.
Even though she was very successful at her work, Maggie was always willing to pack up and move around the country with Trane and the Marine Corps. She told me once that being on base and having the time to spend with the kids and Trane when he was home was even more rewarding than work. That's how they both were. Work was important and they both were very successful at their jobs but the kids and family came first.
Losing a good friend like Trane is hard, but knowing that he was a true professional and did his duty to protect our country makes me proud. I have good memories and he taught me things about life I will never forget and can carry with me forever.
His children don't have that opportunity. The saddest thing about losing Trane is knowing his children will never get to ask their dad for advice, that Maggie will have to bear the burden of raising three kids all by herself. He was such a good man. He gave them a good start, but to not have him around to see them through is one of the saddest things I can imagine.
Maggie is a strong woman and a great lady. Like all Marine wives, she has taken care of the home front through all the deployments and absences. But each time Trane went away there was always hope and happiness waiting for the day that he would return. That has been taken from them now.
Having to raise three kids, pay all the bills plus save for college is hard for most families. Losing your spouse and having to do it by yourself is something I don't want to think about. As a Marine, you can't buy life insurance. The government provides Serviceman's Guaranteed Life Insurance (SGLI) that pays your family $200,000 if you die. Of course, that helps but paying off a house and cars doesn't leave much to set aside for college. And with health insurance costs increasing, things will be tough for Maggie. Paying for childcare while working will take up a lot of the money she needs to pay bills.
A fund has been set up to help the family. If you can, please send a donation to it. I know there are lots of needs and many other service members who have lost loved ones and set up funds. If you are aware of one then please help them out. This is one I know about and am asking you to join me in helping this family get through a tragic loss. Trane was just three years away from finishing his full 20 years of Marine Corps service, which would have left Maggie with a good retirement. Unfortunately his early death has not only taken their father and husband, but also their future income as well.
The McCloud Family Fund
C/O Richard Barns
703 Main Street
Port Jefferson, NY 11777
Make checks out to Margaret McCloud his widow. Anyone wishing their contribution to be specifically for the children's education fund should make checks to College America. It is a general fund, but College America is specifically for