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We were bloggers once, and young.

[NB: This post has been updated 5 paragraphs down - the Armorer]

Oh what an aching hole to fill.  Early yesterday evening, when the backchannel exploded, I was fine. Seven hours later I went to bed grappling with what I was going to say when we went public, and I didn't have a thing. Four hours later, I woke up knowing what I was going to say, and when I sat down at the keyboard... I couldn't do it.

Everything's too blurry.

Lex was the bleeding edge of the second wave of milbloggers, just as I was on the trailing edge of the originals.  There was much turmoil, as we were out there inventing our blogselves and blogging as a counterweight to Big Media's control of the narrative.  Hell, *this* space was involved in Rathergate, and our involvement was part of how we clawed our way into respectability.  The milblogs were fighting to tell the inside stories of the warriors the Bigs couldn't be bothered to tell and correct the misinformation being put out - by DoD as well as the Bigs and especially going after the antis on substance.

Good googly moogly though, the Castle was a wild and wooly place back then, what with all the Denizennes swinging from the chandeliers, and the choklit cannon....  Then there was this guy blogging anonymously as Neptunus Lex who was clearly one of the best writers among us - and to my trained ear, damn senior.

I was in San Diego on business and SWWBO came out to join me to viist blog-friends we had out there.  Sean Dustman invited us to join the Sandy-Eggo milbloggers in a meet at his place, with some of the other local milbloggers and such, including Lex.  So I met Lex, and Sean, and I'm sorry, I don't remember who else - sitting in Sean's living room, eating barbecue, and watching a frankly classic movie we were amazed that some present had never seen.... and dangit, I can't remember the name of it. [SWWBO reminded me: Team America! - and that I managed to omit our good pal Joanie - better yet, Sean revived his Doc-in-the-Box post on the meet... so you can see us in better, happier times!]

Blogging, by it's nature, doesn't have a lot of truly senior leaders doing any blogging that we would recognize.  There are good reasons for that.  Among other things, the milblogger community is ruthlessly merit-based, you're ranked there by what you have to say and how you say it, external rankings don't enter into it.  It's one of the reasons senior leaders don't blog much.  They simply can't engage in that kind of a dialogue in public.  And blogging also showed that (news only to the ignorant) that there were damn fine minds wearing stripes on sleeves, and leading on the distaff side, and doing serious work in the trenches.  And eclectic.  Intel weenies, grunts, operators, medics, fobbits, Household Sixes and a certain Air Force weather-guesser I remember who was really flying under cover then.  There were some auld pharts in there, too, like Concrete Bob and Our Bill, determined not to let the nation do to the current wave of warriors going downrange what it did to the ones sent to Vietnam.

But there we were - an enlisted sailor, a not-terribly successful retired Army Major, and an active duty Navy Captain who'd worn the gold star of Command At Sea, talking as equals, telling our stories, sharing our gripes - doing what warrriors have done around the campfire ever since there were campfires and warriors to sit around them.  And tilting at windmills.  And to our surprise, we toppled a few.

We're grown old in war now, and the community is much changed, as has the blog battlespace.  We've had to reinvent our genre time and again, resort our bins, and we ourselves have changed with the passage of time.  And through it all, there was Lex.  Building that wonderful community at that wonderful blog, inviting all and sundry to stop by and have a Guiness and exchange lies and talk about the issues of the day.  Of course, many of the best blogs are like that - internet bars and coffee houses, with owners who know how to keep the crowd engaged, but not have the crowd engage with fires.

And Lex was the master of that.  

It's a frickin' huge hole in the 'sphere and at our very heart.

Bastard's going to stay pretty.  But I'm pretty sure that while Lex wouldn't mind dying in the saddle like most of us old warhorses, he wasn't planning on it right now.  I rather suspect that it was something like Wolfwalker described in a comment on Bill's post, " I'd like to think that right up to that last second he was still a pilot, still doing pilot things to try to avoid/ameliorate the crash, with no time to be scared."

Though I suspect that, at the very end, his last thought was an apology to the Hobbit, his wife, and the fam.  Because that was Lex's center.

Neptunus Lex, departing.

Dammit, I've got to get the air conditioning fixed, the condensation at the blog-station this morning is terrible.

We've already danced at the Castle.  I don't have the energy to do it again.

I need a Guiness.  And I don't even really like a stout that much.

But, as George Patton said, "Let us not mourn the fact that he is gone. Rather celebrate the fact that such a man lived."

And that requires a little Guiness.  It's gonna be a helluva Irish wake in the milblog world today.

Fair winds and a following sea, sailor.

Others participating in the wake for Lex (and feel free to add ones in the comments):

USNI blog
The Wood Shed
CDR Salamander
The Sand Gram
Homefront Six

AW1 Tim
SteelJaw Scribe
Kitchen Dispatch
BJ Armstrong at USNI
McQ at Blackfive
Subsunk at Blackfive
The Sniper
Villainous Company
Chuck at TC Override
Carmichael's Position
Tailhook Association
Navy Times
Lex's opinion pieces at

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Fair Winds and Following Seas from Not Exactly Rocket Science on March 7, 2012 10:50 AM

My heart is leaking out my eyes. Lex was an amazing man. One of the few bloggers I respected deeply, and about the only one whose comments here on this wasted space could make me SQUEEEEE when I saw he... Read More


The old Nautical blessing of "fair winds and following seas" just doesn't seem to cut it. I met Lex at a meet up last July and was looking forward to another this summer.

He went doing what he wanted to do. I just wish Lex had punched out sooner, but we'll never know how things actually went down. I feel so badly for his family.
Well said, and nicely written, John.

  I'm thinking of calling it a day shortly, and heading down to my local pub when they open at 11. Grab a bite and a pint of Guinness, and a shot of Irish and remember absent comrades.

  Last night was really tough. Not only losing Lex, but it brought back memories of other aircrew friends I lost and the whole thing was rather bittersweet. Not much sleep either.

  But here's coffee. Fortunately, Whisper has the keys to Lex's blog and has a memorial page set up. Hopefully he can find a way to keep it open to preserve all of the writings and memories.
I don't drink much, but I'll be raising a Guiness to the memory of Lex.  I don't cry much, either, but that's another exception I'm making today.

 ""Though I suspect that, at the very end, his last thought was an apology to the Hobbit, his wife, and the fam. Because that was Lex's center." 


And that is the part that breaks my heart. Those of us that knew him but barely are facing overwhelming grief. I cannot imagine that of his family. 

 John, (and Friends),

I don't know what happened, but I read his blog with the feeling he would watch my back if we were ever in the boonies together, and he would deliver the goods, "On time and on target," if he needed to deliver me goodies air-to-mud. I will raise a glass in his honor, find me kilt, and Amazing Grace will be on the pipes today. May the departed warriors make room for you at the table today, and may your soul fly free forever. God bless, your family and friends are in my prayers.
Sans words, but none I ever found were the equal of those he had at the ready anyway.

Stunned. Diminished. There's a start.
Still can't believe it, and definitely have no words. My heart aches for his family. RIP, Lex. Glad to have raised a glass with you, and very sad it will remain a singular event.
It's been a hard two weeks. First four Coasties died at my last duty station, ATC Mobile, in a tragic crash. Four young professionals who perished doing what they love in the prime of their lives. The Coast Guard is a worse place after their passing.

Now Lex. I know he died like he lived, with the throttles at the firewall, but his was a passing too soon. The world is a grayer, less-eloquent place without him.
I've said it elsewhere, but I'll say it here.  My heart just breaks for his family.  I never met the man, I only went to his blog daily to read his wisdom.  How is it possible to be brought to tears upon the death of a man you've never met or spoken to, or even corresponded with?  He was just that good.  That's how.

As for not having the words?  Sir, you've done a more eloquent tribute to a fine man than I could ever manage.  John, ya did good.
For Strength

Not much of a Guiness Guy, for an Irishman, but it will be my beverage of choice for all the next rounds...
My condolences to everyone who knew Lex. I didn't, but from what you are all saying, he must have been a hell of a guy.
Saker - he's he was the leader you wanted to be led by.
There's not much that causes my world to come to a sudden stop. Normally it more of a grinding, slide, with big pieces and chunks falling off. This morning, however, it did - bang!
I was getting ready to head off to school, and then I read about Lex, and that was that; I know that there was no way I could keep it together around people... No way...
So I'm staying home, just today. I'll eventually wander out to find an Irish-themed watering hole, and have a pint of Guinness (for strength), and a shot of Jamison (for courage). I do wish that there was a brother warhorse in the local vicinity, because I could really use a shoulder to lean on for this evolution, and pass a few tissues between the pints, and howl at the moon to let The Skipper know that we remember him.
But when I think of what I could do to honor him, I remember his writing, and I remember how well he wrote, and I remember wanting to write just as well as he did. So that's what I am going to do... The Gun Line is a wide spot in the road, but it still exisits, and so I think its time to breathe life back into it. I dunno what it's going to say, but it'll say something, all because a jarhead/dog-faced soldier scribe got fired up by a squid fighter jock who could string a couple of words together...
Captain, my Captain...
We were blessed to have him among us for this little while.  My heart breaks for his family.  For whatever small solace, I am glad he was doing something he loved when it was his time.  Few of us can say that.
thank you john.  this was beautiful.  fair winds lex.
Another great loss. RIP, Lex.
He was a true warrior poet and a philosopher king. 

I wept when I heard the news.

Mo Ghile Maer

Ní labhrann cuach go suairc ar nóin
Is níl guth gadhair I gcoillte cnó,
Ná maidin shamhraidh
I gcleanntaibh ceoigh
Ó d'imthigh uaim an buachaill beó.

Copied from

Sorry I've been so silent for so long, but I had to pop out of lurkerdom to add my condolences to the chorus.  I didn't read Lex much, but I liked what I did read, and I gasped when I saw the news of his death just now.
I don't drink, either, but I'll be praying for his family and the 'sphere.  People like to take pot shots at the 'Net for increasing individuals' isolation, but those people probably have no experience with the kinds of community available online, and the milblogosphere is one of the best and most tightly knit that I've encountered outside fandom.  And even we civilians who lurk are diminished by a loss like this one.
Jamison and Guiness tonight.

A cyber wake for any of those who wish to join.
 Oh John....

This is fine work. Thank you for putting into words what so many are thinking today.
Damn. This is a tough one; I feel like I've lost a close friend. 

In a way, I did. Never was lucky enough to meet the man in person, as John did, but...

Just damn.

crap crap crap.


a toast!
I'm on jury duty this week.  The saving grace to having to pay attention to boring testimony was being able to--just--keep my composure in the courtroom.  It still wasn't easy.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go get some Guinness.
Thanks for this wonderful and heartfelt post my friend. Raises virtual Guinness with you!
I knew you'd do right by Lex, John... which is why I saved your post for last.  This morning I was a sobbing, reflective mess.  Tonight, I'm a reflective mess but am no longer sobbing.  I heard about the crash yesterday, but it just never dawned on me that it could be Lex.  Never even crossed my mind... and then the news hit me like a ton of bricks this morning.  All I could say was "NO NO NO... DAMN IT" for a while.  I keep thinking about his kids (who, of course are adults, but hey- they're always our "kids" if you're the parent, right?), and his wife.  I see the "homecoming" photo he posted of himself and his wife.  I see and hear the proud words he's written about SNO's Navy career... and his daughter's drug struggles... and horseback riding.  But above all, when I think of Lex, I think of the word "FAST":  if he wasn't on the bike or in the air, he wished he was doing either.

damn it.
Tomorrow I will make a pass at all of the blogs that have a tribute up for Lex. I just can't do it tonight. I can't. R.I.P.
 I hate this.but  I'm so glad that I was in a position to offer help to Lex a while back in Portland OR.  He didn't need my help of course but it was nice to trade emails with him, and two fathers saw each other squarely pretty quickly.  And GOOD GOD could the man write!  Anything readable I may ever write in the future will have Lex's fingerprints all over it.  We've lost a giant; a family has lost everything.  If there is anything to do for his family please make sure it is known far and wide.

I just found out a coupla minutes ago on clicking here.  As I wrote to Fuzzy in a later post,  he led _me_ right well.  We have lost an happy warrior and a Christian Gentleman.
Hey John, It's been awhile. I was the other blogger at Sean's that day. Wish I could see you guys at the wake tomorrow.
Feeling the pain over here in England too for my blogpal, my Captain. But I am not a military man, although I have nephew's in the British Army, fighting their young hearts out in Af, plus my daughter in law has two brothers in the USMC.
But I've worked alongside the military, done joint ops (all CT and C narcs), all my professional life. We do tend to get along real well.
After I'd introduced myself to him via e-mail, recommended a book to him (Six Frigates by Ian W Toll) and asked if he was OK with an ex Brit cop popping in to his gaff for a brew , Lex e-mailed me straight back and said, "I love having your voice on my blog. Please feel free to hang around". I loved that guy and was planning to meet up in Sandy Eggo at some future time. Those who do meet up for a wake, I am with you in spirit - and I buy my rounds too.
But most of all, I feel for his family and you guys who were closer to him in your military brotherhood than I. For that, I envy you. Cheers friends.
 I've seen Lex take on all subjects, "The Good, Bad and the Ugly”. For long-time, I read Lex's writings. There was a time, that I would comment.  Lex had a good balance of the “happy warrior and a Christian Gentleman”.  Lex was a Veteran, but in many ways, he was still an active duty warrior  for  this Great Nation.
 This post has been linked at the Corner over at National Review Online. Jonah Goldberg reads here.
This is my modest rememberance.

I was waiting my turn at the NAS Oceana barber shop catching up on my blog reading when I saw the post on CDR Salamander. Lex had died doing what he loved the most. It was strange the sadness I felt for someone who I had never met and until recently, never knew his real name.
He was a good man.
I don't measure up to that, and am the worse for it.
Capt. was a leader to all of  us to do better and fly fast and true.