A Man I Never Knew

by Audrey on May 27th, 2013

So I went to Beaufort National Cemetery yesterday.  I wanted to visit the memorial stone of a man I never knew.
This year the birthday of my son-in-law, Grant, would fall on Memorial Day.  And this made me think of him in a special way.
Thoughts of him made me think of his father, the late Captain Charles Kelly Castleberry and really, all those who have served our country. 

I had heard Captain Castleberry’s story when we first moved to Beaufort back in 1990.  Our family had moved to this military town because Community Bible Church had asked my husband to take the position of senior pastor.
Everyone in our church had been affected by the death of this marine.  The in-air collision off the coast of South Carolina that took his life had happened just four short years before we came.  The story was still fresh.
I remember hearing about their family, about the waiting when they were searching for him in the water, about finally realizing he was gone, and then I remember hearing about the funeral. 
I heard how meaningful, touching, and sad, but also refreshing.  See, I was told that this little family loved the Lord.  I was told that Captain Castleberry was not only one of the few and the proud in the Marine Corps, he was also one of the few and proud who knew Jesus Christ.  
Visiting a cemetery – any cemetery – is sobering.  We walk among the graves and realize that one day there will be a headstone for us. 
I thought about that yesterday as I put some fresh orchids at the headstone of this man I never knew.  The little orchids seemed so small but still  I placed them there and I was thinking, I should have brought larger ones.  But there they stood – next to his marker – delicate, yet honoring this man’s life.
I lingered there.  I prayed for my son-in-law.  I prayed for my daughter.  I prayed for their two little girls and the children yet to be born should God bless them with more.
I thought about life.  It matters how we live it.  It matters what we stand for.  It matters how we invest it.  Our legacy matters.
I never knew this man.  
But here I was.  Alone at the headstone of a man I never knew.  And somehow in my small insignificant way, I wanted to honor his memory. 
I gazed at the oak tree just behind his marker – the sun was filtering through the Spanish moss – it was late in the day.  And it was beautiful.
Then I stared beyond his gravestone. 
I could see a man sitting on a bench with his head down.
I saw another man cleaning a headstone.
I saw a young woman holding the hand of a little boy lingering at another grave marker.
And I thought, this is such a sacred place.
I looked again at Captain Castleberry’s headstone and I thanked God for his life as tears ran down my face.  I thanked God for his widow who placed her trust in the sovereignty of God.  I thanked God for the man who eventually married her and helped raise her boy as his own.
And then, I thanked God for that boy.  That boy is now part of my life.  
No, Captain Castleberry, you didn’t get to see your boy grow up.  But my, what an impact you had in his young life.  You left a legacy.  From what I've been told, you were always faithful.
I never knew you, Captain Castleberry, but I know your son.  You would be so proud of both the husband and the father he has become.  And Carl and I know you would love our daughter.  You’d be so happy that she is the one helping your son and raising your grandchildren.  Your boy is following in your footsteps.
So I thank you, Captain Castleberry.  Semper Fi.
~ From a mother you never knew

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Erin - May 27th, 2013 at 7:07 PM
So sweet! I couldn't read that without tears.

Chesed - May 27th, 2013 at 9:03 PM
Cliff Dugosh - May 27th, 2013 at 9:08 PM
Such a blessing to read this (with tears and all). Thanks for sharing.
Kelley Copeland - May 27th, 2013 at 10:33 PM
This is so inspiring! I admired Kelly at A&M. He was an amazing leader. I also knew the man that married he precious wife. God had His hand in this, for sure. Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful post and allowing me to remember the precious legacy that so many men that I was able to know at A&M have made.
Joe Jordan - June 3rd, 2013 at 12:01 PM
Thanks for taking the time to post this Audrey. Kelly was an outstanding man. I had the honor of getting to know him during our years as student leaders at Texas A&M and have some very fond memories of him. He'd be extremely proud of the man that Grant has become and I know he's smiling in heaven watching all the great things he's doing. He left us much too soon, but left a legacy that will never die with those of us who knew him.
Juli-Anna - June 19th, 2013 at 2:14 PM
My Daddy is there, it is so hard to go there....great read, of course I say this with tears streaming down my face.
DAVID SAHM '82 - September 23rd, 2013 at 9:48 PM
Kelly and I were fish buddies in Company E-1 of TAMU Corps of Cadets. We graduated and got commissioned together in 1982. After the Marine Corp's Basic School, our career paths parted. I went onto being an artillery officer and Kelly went to flight school.

We stayed in frequent contact up until his death and stayed in contact with Susan, his widow, for many years. Kelly and Susan stayed in our small apartment on occasion and we shared the joys and sorrows of our lives.

Kelly was and still is a role model. You could be guaranteed to have a lot of fun around him without indulging in vices that many military members and college students are known to do.

Thank you for sharing your blog and rekindling fond memories of a great person.
Gaye - May 30th, 2017 at 7:13 AM
I'm so thankful for Captain Castleberry and godly men like him who, because of their love for God and their fellow man, continue to impact this world through the generations. Psalm 100:5 Prov 13:22
Keith Bratten '80 - August 27th, 2017 at 2:23 AM
I knew Kelly through Company E1. His positive attitude and emphasis on scholastics were inspiring.
John Hardin - September 16th, 2019 at 6:55 AM
Kelly and I served on Corps Staff together at Texas A&M University. We would run together and speak about the Lord. This week will be 33 years since the Lord took him for his own. Simper Fi Kelly and thank you for all you meant to so many.

John Hardin '82
Cliff Wilson - October 31st, 2020 at 11:54 AM
Great tribute to a great man, his son, your daughter, and family!
Dena Brown '85 - November 2nd, 2020 at 7:20 PM
I went to school and church with Kelly in Lake Jackson. He was such a man to admire. So gratifying to know his son is following in his footsteps.
Acension Fierro %u201879 - June 2nd, 2021 at 3:22 PM
Grant and Justin %u201807, my son, were classmates at A&M in the COrps of Cadets. Kelly and David Sahm %u201882, were with one of the best E-1 %u201Cfish%u201D groups ever. Thank you for this post and prayers to you this Memorial Day! Acension Fierro %u201879

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