A son's tribute to MSgt Al Loreth USMC (Ret)
by Michael Loreth US Army (Ret)
May 14,1936 -- March 14, 2013
I met Al Loreth in 1961when he was a Strapping young man of 25. I was nine, but I venture to guess an alert 9 year old. He married my mom in 1962 as he transitioned from his duties at Camp Pendleton to MCRD in San Diego to be a Drill Instructor. We moved into government quarters where my mom had a baby in 1962.
Al loved to fish we used to fish, often at Mission Bay or down by the Big Boat Dock. Fishing was an important part of his life even after his years in the USMC up until he left California in 1988 and moved to Colorado.
In 1964, he transferred to Kaneohe Marine Corps Air Station (KMCAS, Hawaii) where they were forming a unit to ship out to Vietnam, which he did a few months later. We stayed there for about 2 years total while he was gone on his tours. By this time, my Parents had two more small ones -- with this sister born in 1965 just after we got there.
We left Hawaii and went to Glassmanor, MD just outside the Washington, DC beltway. There my dad went to Vietnamese Language School. I remember many hours of sitting up at two and three in the morning and holding flash cards of characters for his class the next day. We were there during 1966 and early 1967. Later in 1967, we returned to Camp Pendleton where I started my freshman year in High School. With additional tours to Vietnam Dad was around so little I have no idea where he was from 1967 to 1971.
I got married in April of 1971 -- he was in Vietnam at the time. I graduated High School in June of 1971. I later enlisted in the US Army in January of 1972 and retired in March of 1993. By then Dad and my mom were having some problems with their health and other things including the cost of living in So Cal so they moved in with me at Ft Carson, Colorado in mid 1988. They stay with me for about a year and a half until they bought a house in Colorado Springs.
Around this time, I had gotten my first computer, which I later gave to him in 1989 or 1990. He swore he could not use it, but over the next two years and a bunch of jump-starts, he got off on his own with it. IT BECAME HIS LIFE from then on! As they improved the internet and computers, I cannot tell you how many hundreds of times he thanked me for getting him started using a computer.
I do not know most of you, or his connections to you. What I can tell you is he cherished all of you, both new/old acquaintances. Even though I did not know you, he was so overjoyed with his many connections he had to tell me continuously how much you all meant to him.
For a long time we were never close for a variety of reasons. I was busy with my family he with his, my career, my job. The one thing he always did was work on getting better with his computer. As time passed, he got very good with his PC, but then everything changed.
Two years ago, he had 18 inches of his colon removed for a blockage. At the time of the procedure, he also had a stroke and for the most part lost the use of the left side of his body.
He went through nearly four months of rehab at two hospitals. After discharge, he was home only three days and had already fallen two or 3 times.
He was then moved back to another rehab facility. During this time, my mom also had a number of medical issues so they were both in the same rehab facility for 3 months. I was the only one in the family to take an interest in helping them -- my two brothers were in California and my two sisters had their own problems. My wife and I visited them daily for about seven or eight months; after that I took dad for all his appointments for the next year and a half.
With all this contact, we became very close, a lot of time to talk about the things we never had talked about before. We must have gone out to eat a hundred times. It was a horrible thing to see his health gradually diminish over this period. During these 2 years, he was also diagnosed with throat cancer. I took him for his daily radiation treatments for about 45 days.
The cancer was eradicated by the end but it was still to haunt him until the end. He had been about 300 lbs when he had the initial surgery 2 years ago, by the end he weighed less than 180. He was having so many problems eating we were about to have to have a pic put in his stomach so he could be fed through a tube.
I grew to love my dad over the past 2 years! A man I did not know until then, a man that I did not even understand until then. Only after talking with my Mom after his passing did I truly understand him. For his whole life, he had put the USMC and his close ties with its members, ahead of his family. In the 10 years from 1962 to 1972, when I went into the Army, he had only been with us about 3 or 4 years. Even during that time, he was not around much because of his tours to Vietnam as well as voluntary tours to Okinawa and Korea.
He was a very smart man, and someone I could easily converse with about almost any subject, and we agreed about many of today's problems in America and the world. However, I was not about to vote for the crappy Republicans they gave us just because he was a Republican, I did not vote, sorry.
I cherish the time I spent with my dad during his last two years! I got to know him almost as well as many of you did. I wish things had turned out differently for him. He never gave up the good fight, a rock in his own way of dealing with things from day to day, but pain was his greatest enemy and he lost to it.
I wrote this to glorify my dad. I hated to see him leave this world with all he had to offer and yet leave so many things behind he did not get the chance to finish. He still had dreams and I would like to have had the chance to help him achieve his goals. There are so many blank pages since March 14, 2013 that could have been filled.
His cremains are only about 10 feet from me. I would like to write his last chapter but I don't know it. I am sure all of you who knew my dad, would say you KNOW he cared for your friendship very much, that he was honest, trustworthy and someone you could always count on. I felt that way. All the best to you and your families -- I wish you all good health, and the possibility of finding friendship where you least expect it.