A lasting Legacy

On June 26, 2008, the life of Phil Dykeman came to a sudden end.   A father, a Marine, a cousin, a friend.  There are many around the world today who will pause to remember.     Phil touched the hearts and minds of everyone he met.   Phil was my cousin.  I believe there is about 11 years separating us so we weren’t really close growing up.   But in 1998 when he attended Marine Officer Candidate School (OCS) at Quantico, I got to know Phil, the man, a little better.

On leave weekends, Phil and sometimes a couple of buddies would make the 30 mile drive up I-95 to our house in Alexandria, VA.  Exhausted from their week of training they would sit on our deck, polishing boots and belt buckles, folding laundry, smoking, drinking coffee and then a beer or two.  Throughout the weekends there was never anything but smiles, laughter and good natured ribbing.   I could tell these guys loved what they were doing.   I was always amazed when I got up on Saturday mornings; the “boys” were already up, out on the deck.  Sleepy eyed I ventured out there and asked how everybody slept… that’s when the good natured ribbing came my way.   Even thought it was only about 8:30, I got it hard for sleeping in, and why I didn’t join them for the 10 miles they had already completed – running not in Nike’s but their combat boots.  These were the best of the best and I was proud to host them. 

There were a couple of weekends when Phil visited alone.  Those were the times when we would talk.  He always wanted to hear stories about his Dad, my Uncle Henry.  Most stories centered around family events, mostly at the Dykeman house in Bernard’s Bay.  Clam bakes and Christmas parties, boat rides on Oneida Lake, riding the snow mobile.  Thanksgivings at our house!   I told him how my Dad and his were best friends.  We laughed and sure we cried…

During this past year there haven’t been many days when I haven’t thought about Phil.  Whether it’s talking with Andrew about Team Dykeman or just looking out on to my deck.   I miss Phil, I miss knowing he’s out there watching out for all of us.      While this is a sad day as we remember Phil, it is also a day to reflect on his impact.   After his death the local Sheiks and Civic Leaders that worked alongside Captain Phil, as he was known to his Marine comrades, petitioned Baghdad to have a local primary school renamed in his honor.  Today in northern Karmah, Iraq there is a primary school that bears the name “Captain Phil”; a lasting legacy – he made a difference over there!

Rest in peace Phil… 

Love, Cousin Peter


2 Responses to A lasting Legacy

  1. Cousin David says:

    I also think about Phil daily. I have his picture on my dresser. Phil came to my 40th birthday party and played golf with the group that included Walt. It is hard for me to think about Phil without crying.

    I spent a summer with Henry and Jean working at the mill while in high school.

    I was honored to be Phil’s Godfather along with my sister Mary. She gets credit for remembering his birthday each year.

    Peace Brother! I miss you.
    Cousin David

  2. All,
    I talked to Andrew as well today and it is a very sad day , but in the same voice we need to be thankful for what Phil was doing for our country and others as well . I remember when Phil and I played Golf together with Andrew while he was stationed in Jacksonville , it was a great day and he was as nice of guy as I can ever remember meeting . He took me back to his house and introduced me to his three kids and his Wife , I remember that day like it was last week . It was a true pleasure to get to hang out with him and get to know him . We laughed at each other and made fun of each other , it was good times .
    With all of that in my mind , I can’t forget why I am running for teamdykeman . I am a father of two precious little girls and I can’t imagine my kids growing up without me . So on a serious note , I hope that each one of us can remember Phil as well as be thankful for what we have when it comes to life and our own families . It is a true honor to run for these kids , they are all I thought about when I crossed the finish line in the last marathon .
    So please , please take a minute and close your eyes and say a little something , and even say a little something like thanks Phil and thanks for bringing us all together while we are here . Also say thanks to everything while we are here on earth .
    I feel like we all bring honor to Phil by sticking together and doing this marathon , thank you to all the Batemans as well , great people for a great cause , THIS IS WHAT IT IS ALL ABOUT !

    Rusty Sneeden

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