Vinny DiGirolamo’s Memorial Day Message remembering his Company Mate Dave Trundy (26th Co.)

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Today I’d like to remember a fallen shipmate and friend of mine on this Memorial Day of remembrance. I don’t recall too many midshipmen that I met for the first time at the United States Naval Academy, but I do remember meeting Dave Trundy. Dave and I were in the same company and we were sitting in an auditorium waiting to be welcomed as new Plebes, the freshman class of 1978. We introduced ourselves and told each other a little bit about ourselves. I remember thinking, we had a lot in common and that we’d be great friends. I learned he was a military brat whose dad was a Marine General and he had traveled to many places. As time progressed, Dave found salvation in Christ in a very strong born-again Christian culture at USNA, and I found my way and became a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. My conversion was largely from my association with my roommate, Tim Hintz, the young adults in the church, and the example of our Platoon Commander, Mike Shafer (…/i-think-shafers-a…). There was a fair amount of religious fervor and polarity in our company among classmates, so naturally, Dave and I were friends but socialized in different groups.I recall one night a classmate in our company was caught in a lie and one side wanted him to be separated from the Naval Academy due to this alleged honor violation. Since I was a Latter-day Saint and not a part of the religious fervor, I found my accused classmate amongst his closest friends and suggested we meet this head-on. I advised him to be honest and humble and simply apologize for his misdeed. We went to the room where all had gathered to decide his fate and subsequently the crowd was softened by his demeanor. They forgave and we became a more united group. I remember, Dave influenced that change of heart and I counted on that. Subsequently, that midshipman went on to be a fine Naval Commanding Officer, perhaps influenced by that defining experience. Later, during our Senior year, Dave became the Brigade Commander of over 4,000 midshipmen and I became the Company Commander of over 120, a position I cherish to this day. Dave was selected to become a Marine pilot to fly AH-1T Cobras and I a Navy pilot. Dave married his sweetheart, Kimberly, shortly after graduation. Then the tragic accident occurred flying his Cobra on a training mission and Dave crashed pursuing the aviation dream and legacy – an aircraft malfunction, not pilot error.I was able to attend his memorial service. They had not located the aircraft wreckage yet, buried in the swamplands of North Carolina somewhere. As I read his obituary at the service, I remember thinking, that all I had to do was change a few words and that could have been me. Our histories were almost identical, and it was very sobering. Naval Aviation and its potential hazards, even death, became real to me at that moment. I cannot imagine how his dad and family felt at his loss, but they also had hope in Christ which I am sure carried the day.In pondering my lifetime of experience, and Dave’s memory, I cannot reconcile why one of us is taken and why one is not. I can only have faith in the belief that God has a customized plan for each of us and none can be compared with another. I am however grateful that Dave and I intersected on life’s journey for that short chapter. He was good-natured, had a sense of humor, was a devoted husband and family man, and a convicted believer in Christ. Dave was a good Marine in every sense of the term and willing to give his all if the call came. It came too early in my opinion, but so it goes to those who chose the risks of our profession. Dave – Thank you for your service, your life, your example, and your devotion to Christ and your family. Until we meet again, fair winds and following seas my friend. Vinny