URSA, Ill. (AP) Patrick Weppler’s easy going nature has been put to the test more than once in his life.
After graduating from high school, he had no real plans for his future.
“I wasn’t a very disciplined student,” Weppler said. “I knew I needed to do something after school. The National Guard recruiter called me, and I said, ‘Sure, why not?’ It was probably less than a week between that call and when I went to St. Louis (for Military Entrance Processing Station or MEPS). The Guard helped me get my head on straight. It made me mature a lot.
“At the time, the Guard never got called up for anything. The last time the unit here in Quincy went to war was Vietnam. What were my chances of being called for a war? We weren’t even really fighting anyone.”
The First Gulf War had drawn to a close, and Weppler saw no other conflicts on the horizon.
“Before 9/11, there just wasn’t a sense of urgency,” he said. “After, there was a sense of the National Guard transforming more into a military unit, as opposed to a bunch of weekend warriors. Everybody took it seriously, because our lives were on the line now.”
Weppler enrolled in college while in the National Guard, but he dropped out soon after.
“I got a full-time job with the Guard in Springfield,” he said. “After 9/11, we were mobilizing troops, so I was going to mobilization stations, making sure all their pay was right. In ’03, I got deployed myself.
“We went to Wisconsin in February for our training. Somewhere down the line plans changed, and we sat in Wisconsin until July. Then we got sent to Fort Bragg to fix airborne equipment. There were always rumors that we would be sent to Baghdad or to Kuwait. Every couple of weeks there was a new rumor, but it never really seemed real to me.”
After being deployed stateside for nine months, Weppler’s company returned to Quincy. He married his girlfriend, Leila, soon after.
“She was planning a wedding while I was deployed the first time,” he said. “We left on Valentine’s Day 2003. I proposed to her the day before.”
In 2008, he was deployed again.
“We were stationed at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait,” he said. “As a transportation company, we would take stuff from Kuwait to Iraq. I was the supply sergeant for the unit. I did all the logistical stuff and made sure we didn’t lose anything.
“I had a very specific job. I didn’t think about the danger too much. But when we got over there, the unit we were replacing, their lead truck got hit with an IED on their final mission. They were packed up and ready to go. That’s when it became real.
“I got to go on one mission. I just didn’t feel right that my friends — basically my family — were going into danger and I couldn’t do it, so I finally talked command into letting me go. I spent a week and a half on the road. It was scary, but I’d trained for it. I just drove the humvee, but there was some validation. Some people are fobits — a person who never leaves the base. My guys knew I wasn’t like that. They knew I had a job that required me to be on base, but I still wanted to experience it.”
In January 2009, Weppler returned to Quincy and tried to settle back into his life. His daughter, Isabella, 8, had been born while he was home on leave in 2008. In 2010, Weppler and his wife had another child, a boy named Jackson.
“I was on the road all the time when Jackson was a baby,” he said. “I missed a lot. When I retired (from the military), I just wanted to do something simple that didn’t require a lot of thinking, something where I would be home. All I did was load beer onto a cart, wheel it into a store, stock it and leave.
“Then Jack got sick, so I took a leave of absence.”
Jackson Weppler, 7, was diagnosed with hepatoblastoma, a rare liver cancer, on Oct. 30, 2012.
“I thought Jack had a hernia,” he said. “After I got off work I took him into the doctor. We were supposed to get a haircut and go to dinner after. The nurse practitioner felt around, then someone else did, and someone else did.
“They said they were going to send him to Children’s Hospital. My first thought was that we could get a haircut before we went. I can look back at it now, and everything was in slow motion. You’re moving normal, but everything around you is slowed down. There’s no protocol for this. No parent plans for this. There’s nothing in the world that ever could prepare you for this.”
Jackson underwent four rounds of chemotherapy, which proved ineffective without transplant.
“We were in Children’s Hospital from October to the end of February,” he said. “We kept pestering our oncologist and asking when he’s going to get on the list. He set us down and said the transplant team didn’t think he was eligible. He said more than likely he would have to go to hospice. He’s 3 years old.
“You can’t wrap your head around that. You get super protective, and neither of us would take no for an answer. I contacted Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. By the time we stepped off the plane in Pittsburgh, I had six different hospitals lined up. I was just going to go from city to city until I found someone that said, ‘Yes.’ “
After Jackson’s diagnosis, another Quincy child was diagnosed with a similar condition. He didn’t need a full transplant, and he also survived.
“It’s a club that you don’t want to be a part of,” he said. “Once you hear those words, ‘Your child has cancer,’ you’re a part of this club. Once we heard he had cancer, we reached out to his parents to let them know the little things that would help them out — what we did, who to call. The little things like that comfort you.
“When the first little girl we had met in Carbondale passed away, my wife and Isabella flew down for the funeral. She meant the world to us. She was just full of life, and the first day we were in the hospital, she took Jack’s hand and wanted to play.
“You know someone in the hospital has passed away, because they bring security guards up. I understand. I would have lost my mind if I would have lost Jack. I tried to stay positive, but it was on my mind all the time.”
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Jackson received his new liver April 25, 2013, while in Pittsburgh. He has been cancer-free for four years.
“We got called out twice for false calls,” he said. “The livers just weren’t viable. When we got one, it was the perfect match for him. Everything lined up perfectly.
“When he was going through all this, my mom was battling cancer. As soon as he rang that bell and was cancer free, she just kind of let go. It’s like once she knew her grandson was good, she was able to pass away.”
The Wepplers recently opened a dialogue with the family of Jackson’s liver donor.
“Over the past few years, we’ve written a few letters back and forth; expressing our gratitude, letting them know how Jackson is doing,” he said. “At the beginning of April (2017), the (donor’s) sister contacted us through Facebook. We messaged back and forth. Maybe this summer, when we go back out to Pittsburgh, we’ll meet them.
“I try to put myself in their shoes. He died from meningitis in the brain, and I think to myself, in that particular moment of grief how could I say yes? Yes, harvest my son or daughter — who I love more than anything in this world — and spread those body parts all over, even when I want them whole and alive. To do that took amazing strength, and we wanted to put a face to that gift.”
Weppler is working to complete his degree in history education and is expected to graduate in spring 2019.
“There are male teachers out there, but I think there need to be more,” he said. “There need to be more positive male role models out there, and I like to think I could be that for someone. Even if it’s just one person, that’s one person’s life who was changed, and it makes the world a better place.
“When Jack was sick, our friends set up a benefit for us. The (Knights of Columbus) was just packed. Hundreds and hundreds of people. It showed me there is humanity in this world. There is good in this world. Am I going to change the world? Probably not. I’m realistic, but if we just start on a small scale, then maybe we can do something. Common human decent values — kindness and generosity. That’s very much alive in our community. I’ve witnessed it. I want to see it grow.”
House lawmakers called on the Trump administration Thursday to punish Turkey for the violence that Turkish security forces visited upon protesters in Washington this month, including blocking future visits to the U.S. by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
“We have a message for [Erdogan]: We don’t need people like you visiting the United States anymore,” Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., who chairs the Foreign Affairs subcommittee for Europe, said during a hearing Thursday. “Erdogan should never again be invited to the United States.”
Erdogan outraged U.S. leaders by dispatching members of his security detail to attack protesters against his regime who had assembled outside the Turkish embassy in D.C. during his visit to meet President Trump. Turkey is a critical NATO ally, but the strategic importance of the relationship isn’t deterring lawmakers from pushing Trump to make Erdogan regret the crackdown.
“This was an attack on American sovereignty,” Calif. Rep. Brad Sherman, a senior Democrat on the committee, said during the hearing. “Quasi-military forces of a foreign nation beat and attacked Americans on American soil. This was deliberate, because Erdogan believes that this helps him politically back in Turkey. We have to demonstrate to the world that aggression on American soil is not going to pay off.”
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s team summoned the Turkish ambassador to State Department for a formal rebuke, but Erdogan’s government didn’t show contrition. Instead, they responded by summoning the U.S. ambassador to the Turkish Foreign Ministry for a dressing-down of their own.
“A written and verbal protest was delivered due to the aggressive and unprofessional actions taken, contrary to diplomatic rules and practices, by U.S. security personnel towards the close protection team [of the Turkish ambassador],” the Foreign Ministry said. The tete-a-tete could complicate an already tense relationship between two NATO allies. Erdogan has blamed the United States for a failed coup attempt last year. Turkish officials are also angry that the Obama and Trump administrations are working with a group of Syrian Kurds YPG, which has ties to another group Turkey views as terrorists in the fight against ISIS. Sherman wants to expel the Turkish ambassador for lying about American personnel, and he has a list of proposals to compel a personal apology from Erdogan. His list starts with spurning any Turkish concerns about the YPG. He also wants the Trump administration to recognize the Armenian genocide, in which the Ottoman Empire killed about 1.5 million Armenians over an eight-year period.
On the financial side, Sherman wants to bar Americans from purchasing Turkish government debt “until we get a formal apology from Erdogan.”
“I realize such an apology might be politically difficult for him,” Sherman said. “That’s the point. We have to illustrate this or we will have other leaders attacking Americans both in their country or in ours for their political reasons.”
U.S. and Turkish diplomats seem inclined to let the matter drop rather than risk interference in counterterrorism efforts, but House leaders plan to vote on a resolution rebuking Erdogan over the attack.
“He is an enemy of everything we stand for,” Rohrabacher said. “More importantly, he is an enemy of his own people and we should side with the people of Turkey, not with their oppressor.”
By Nelson A. King
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Get our stories in your inbox, free. Like Caribbean Life on Facebook. Former St. Vincent and the Grenadines Deputy New York Consul General and calypsonian Cyril Scorcher Thomas Saturday night received the Special Recognition Award from the Brooklyn-based St. Vincent and the Grenadines Ex-Police Association, U.S.A., Inc. at a gala banquet at Glen Terrace in Brooklyn.
Scorcher who a few months ago was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Brooklyn-based Friends of Sion Hill was among three other honorees at the event that also marked the ex-police group s 37th Annual Fundraising Ball.
When they told me that the police had issued a citation for me, I said to myself, after all these years, I thought the Statute of Limitation had passed, said Scorcher, to laughter, after receiving the award.
Scorcher thanked, among others, the Almighty; his mother, Emily Thomas; his late step mother, Mary Neverson Morris; Neverson Morris sister Venus Alexander; Marcel and Cornell Browne; and the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Ex-Police Association, U.S.A., Inc. for their significant role in the development of the person who stands before you today.
I am living proof that, if even it takes decades, they always get their man, he said. I often take time to remind myself that, in the best of men, there s a little evil; and, in the worst of men, there s a little good. Keep on watching over us, my good men. The St. Vincent and the Grenadines Ex-Police Association, U.S.A., Inc. said the Special Recognition Award is bestowed on a non-member who has demonstrated a passion for community service and/or to the development of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and, in particular, members of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force and/or ex-police associations, and has dedicated time, energy, financial and other personal and professional resources towards this passion. Brooklyn s Celestial Funeral Home whose manager and chief executive officer is Wilmoth Seaton, a former school teacher at home received the Corporate Citizens Award. Jamaican Edward Hinds received the award on behalf of Seaton, who was visiting Toronto, Canada.
Founding fathers ex-prison officer, Hayward Thomas, and retired registered nurse David Alban Williams, received the Diamond Award. Arden Thomas, the president of The St. Vincent and the Grenadines Ex-Police Association, U.S.A., Inc., also chose ex-police officer Pamella Ferrari-Easter, of Canouan in the St. Vincent Grenadine islands, to receive the President Surprise Award.
For the past 12 months, Pam has been working tirelessly to put this organization forward, resulting in increased membership and camaraderie, Tannis said. He also recognized the Barbados-based Caribbean Tourism Organization s New York staffer Annette Stowe, of Bequia, presenting her a bouquet of flowers, for her continued support of the group, and for designing and producing the group s annual journal.
New York Consul General Howie Prince and president of the Vincentian umbrella group in the US, the Brooklyn-based Council of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Organizations, U.SA., Inc. (COSAGO), Laverne McDowald-Thompson, also addressed the ceremony. About the honorees
Scorcher, who was born and raised in Sion Hill, overlooking capital city, Kingstown, before he migrated to the United States, said he always had a passion for sports, playing it with varying degrees of success,
He said he played Division One Basketball, was a National Volleyball player and was the first person from Sion Hill to be selected to play football (soccer) for St. Vincent and the Grenadines National Team, as a junior player and then as a senior player. Scorcher was also a Student Teacher, a custom officer and a magistrate clerk before he migrated to the US, where he was drafted into the Army soon after arrival.
After spending two years in the US Army, 10 of which was in Vietnam, Scorcher said he worked at the US Postal Service by day and attended Brooklyn College at nights, graduating with a Bachelor s degree in Political Science, a Masters of Arts degree in Urban Administration, and an Advance Degree in Educational Administration and Supervision. Over the years, Thomas said he taught public schools in New York City, retiring in 2001. He then served as Deputy Consul General of St. Vincent and the Grenadines from 2001 to 2011. From an early age, Scorcher said he showed a great love for music, writing and singing numerous hits over the years.
His first recording was in 1976, with a track entitled Wilma wok Obeah on Me, followed by notables as Party Fever, Wake up the Party, Phantom DJ, Sweetness is My Weakness, Fork up All the Beaches, I am a Darkie, Come St. Vincent, Pipe Layer and The Legend of Soca. Besides the US, Scorcher has performed, among other places, in England, Canada, Columbia, Trinidad and Tobago, and Grenada. The Flatbush, Brooklyn-based Celestial Funeral services, Inc., which was established in 2002, and is family-owned and operated, has the distinction of having the first Vincentian-born Licensed Funeral Director, Wilmouth Passie Seaton, as its chief executive officer and manager.
Our motto We serve our families with empathy and compassion – epitomizes the quality of service [that is rendered] to the families we serve, said Seaton in a statement. We meet the family where its most convenient for them, either at their home or the funeral home. All funerals are customized to meet the need of the family and depicts the life style of their loved one.
Celestial Funeral Services, its management and staff are cognizant of the disparities that exist in many communities, especially for those of color, he added. For many years, we have lent our voice and resources to build, promote and create alternatives for the strengthening of the Diaspora and the betterment of the community.
We continue to sponsor churches and various organizations in their outreach efforts to harmonize and sensitize the Diaspora and beyond, Seaton continued. While taking care of your lost loved one is our business, giving back to the community is our pride.
Haywood C. Thomas, who was born in Choppins Village, on Sept. 12, 1926, moved with his parents, at 3, to Mt. Bentick, Georgetown, the island s second largest town. His parents had sought employment in the sugarcane, arrowroot and cotton industries on the Mr. Bentick estate. Thomas said he ever obtained an early education, disclosing that, at 10, his parents sent him to live with a wealthy family in Kingstown and that, on his return home two years later, he was then sent to live with another family in Rose Hall in North Leeward, where he attended school briefly for the very first time. In 1939, when World War II started, Thomas said he went to work on the family estate, emerging from being a child laborer and eventually working in a bakery owned by the Catos. He said he subsequently started his own business by opening a bakery and shop in the Ratho Mill area in East St. George.
From 1964 to 1981, Thomas served as a prison officer at Her Majesty s Prison in Kingstown, during which he was elected president of prison section of the Civil Service Association. He also served as assistant secretary in the same section. On migration to the US in 1981, Thomas said he worked as a baker and later as a security officer, serving as a Shop Stewart and fighting for his union comrades until retirement in 2009. In 1996, Thomas joined the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Ex-Police Association, holding the position of chaplain up to 2016.
After graduating from the Emmanuel High School in Kingstown, Williams said he first worked as a public school teacher, then joined the Royal St. Vincent Police Force, rising to corporal. On migration, he attended college in New York and became a registered nurse, working with Catholic Medical Charities and Kingsborough Psychiatric Hospital in Brooklyn until retirement. Williams said he maintained contact with his former police colleagues and served as a president of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Ex-Police Association, U.S.A., Inc.
I tried my best to serve who I served, said Williams in his acceptance speech, sitting in a wheel chair, flanked by his wife, Helen, other family members, Prince, Tannis and Joselle Thomas, who presented him with the award. I am trying to live the best of my life.
Posted 12:00 am, May 24, 2017
2017 Community News Group
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