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July 22, 2015

 
DEATH OVERCOMES MINEMEN AND FRIEND

 

Dear Shipmates,

 

I knew this day would come and have prepared myself for it. One of my very best friends (more than a buddy or shipmate) passed away on July 17th. Phil Beckwith graduated with me from Naval Basic Training in Bainbridge, MD. We met up at 'A' School in Yorktown and graduated together there. Upon graduation, our duty stations took us to Harbor Defense Units; he to Lewis, Delaware, me to Little Creek, Virginia. We both learned how to make a "monkey's fist" for insertion into a distribution box, while working aboard a 43-foot L-boat, in 4-foot seas. We would both later serve in Yokosuka, Japan.

Phil lived a few dozen miles from Bainbridge, in Maryland. So close to West Virginia that he had that mountain dialect. 

 

 

Phil, as I remember him at NSMW 'A' School

 

After his retirement as MNC, he settled in the Tetons, in Riverton, Wyoming. There he loved the wilderness and the opportunity to live off the land. Though an avid hunter, he was one that thoroughly and completely respected the environment.

 

Phil was responsible for my eventual affiliation with AOM. He never made it to an AOM reunion for one simple reason. As a recovering alcoholic (dry for 24 years) he never wanted to be exposed to the temptation of alcohol. While we wrote and called one another continuously for many years, we met only one time since our Navy service. We shared hours of personal stories  on-line and over the phone during the intervening years.

 

Phil loved all wildlife, especially dogs. He sent me a photo of him at the Cheyenne airport where he went to get a dog that he had shipped to him.

 

 

 

I remember when he called me and told me that he had decided to re-visit his former duty station at Subic Bay. He managed to make arrangements to travel there on military stand-by transportation and spent nearly three days in and out of airports. He was still able to document the facility and what it looked like in September, 2011. He sent me many changes which I posted on this web site.

 

Cherry Ann at Subic, before coming to the US

 

While there, he met a beautiful Filipina, Cherry Ann. They were immediately attracted to one another and soon, Phil made plans to take the next step. This May-December relationship blossomed and Phil was eager to see that Cherry was able to pursue her dream to be a nurse. In February, 2012, Phil made plans to bring Cherry to the states. He wrote me, "as soon as immigration gives me some news on Cherry I hope to be able to schedule and take a trip with her all over the country after she arrives."


 And so, a dream for the retired Navy Chief and the dreamy-eyed young Filipina took shape. Cherry would eventually become Phil's bride and he would introduce her into ways of the West. Soon, Cherry was cleaning mountain trout and skinning upland elk. Their relationship was as sincere as any two people could form.


 In January, 2012, Phil wrote:


  "Health is going down hill, have had a cough for over two months and the medicos can't find out why. I am scheduled for non invasive procedures at the end of the month. They are going to stick a camera down my throat to see if anything out of the ordinary can be seen. I have to be knocked out for the procedure. Seems the medicos figure it maybe an Allergy reaction since i was taking a blood pressure medicine that had a cough as a side effect. I have been off that med for over a month so they are now more curious." 

 

In June, 2012, Cherry took her exam for Certified Nurse Practitioner and passed. In February, 2015, Phil wrote:

 

 "Throat is not as sore now as yesterday AM but of course, the wounds have had time to heal a bit. Chin Sing and I smoked the same Parliament brand. "

 

Things got progressively worse. At the end of April, 2015, he wrote:

 

 "Looks like I may have lost the battle. Have been sort of sick for 9 months constant, a minor operation to scrape my throat and lung passages, nothing unusual found, coughing and nothing found to cause it, being given every cough medicine available, prescription and OTC. I coughed so hard I coughed up blood, my back ached from my coughing. They the medicos thought I had strained myself. Put me on pain meds, none worked but for one called Naproxen. I misread the label, took 20 a day for three days instead of 2 a day. I think my kidneys are done for, my right one is really hurting, pain is worse than the kidney stone I passed years ago. I told them I was pissing white and not yellow, and no change in their attitude. They will not say yes I was right but after the past week, all the tests, and more to come, well Life has been good to me. Now I can't take any pain killers because they are still running tests, Damn it hurts.Right now I am a cripple, can't sit or stand for more than 2 or 3 minutes wit out getting horizontal. "


 In early May of 2015, Phil had reached the point of dealing with his mortality. He wrote:

 

 "Sure hope I did not scare you to death .My time has arrived, very unexpectedly but it has arrived. I sent a note to the MN's on my list and I left a note on your web site. Heck, Derick, we live to die, I will go out fighting this cancer thing, volunteer for new treatments etc. to help someone else even maybe myself. Cherry will send the final disposition. Damn, I have put her in a terrible position. "

 

His last message to me came in the middle of May:

 

 "Derick, the final is in. I have the Big C throughout my trunk and into my spine. Doctor told me this AM it will be lights out within 8 months. My big C is bad. I am being put on strong narcotics for pain and they are going to try [MAYBE] RADIATION ON MY SPINE TO HELP RELEIVE SOME PAIN. I have one nice firearms collection going back to the Civil war and some ONE OF ONES. Honesty, HERMAN GOERINGS shotgun , a hand gun I have traced almost to Adolph Eichman, all I need is a photo of him showing the holster. I will fight this C as long as I can, God Bless everyone, take care, stay in touch, .Phil"


 Phil's obituary from the Riverton Ranger reads as follows:

 

A Memorial Service for Philip Karl Beckwith, will be held 10:00 a.m., Friday, July 24, 2015 at Davis Funeral Home with Father Demetrio Penascoza of St. Margaret's Catholic Church officiating. Interment will follow at Mountain View Cemetery with Military Rites. Mr. Beckwith died July 17, 2015 at his home in Riverton, Wyoming. He was born July 23,1938 in Baltimore, Maryland, son of Paul M. and Thelma E. (Koch) Beckwith. He married Cherry A. Jabilles on October 15, 2012 in Lander, Wyoming. Phil retired from the United States Navy and then worked as a truck driver. He enjoyed hunting, fishing and shooting. Survivors include his wife, Cherry Ann Beckwith of Riverton; sons, Paul Beckwith of Washington, George Beckwith of Washington and Tom Beckwith of Oregon; 4 grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents and one brother. On-line condolences for the family may be made at The Davis Funeral Home. Services are under the direction of the Davis Funeral Home.


 

Phil has his own web page.

 

 

 

 

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

Derick S. Hartshorn

 

 


 
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