Kevin Gleason looks like a Yuppie, lives on the Upper East Side, went
to college, works for a giant company, watches softball in Central
Park, and on appearance, you would think he's about as New York as you
can get for being just 25 years old. But this man's goal is to be a medic
fighting to save lives with the Marines, or Navy Seals. Here is the
story of a Sentinel of Vigilance that breaks the mold of those who
would rather watch others protect their future than risk their lives
to defend it.
9, 2003—Ground Zero Plus 665
A Yuppie's "Duty" To Battle The
Beast Of Terror
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZER0, New York, N.Y.--July 9,
2003-- You never know who you're going to meet on a park bench
in Central Park. Some say even God Himself often takes a break
in the 840 acre tribute to nature nestled in the epicenter of one of
humanity's most bursting megalopolis.
Sisto, star of TNT's Caesar, was watching the same softball
game as we
You might be sitting next
to Robert DeNiro--who happens to play softball with the guys on
occasion--or, you might look over a couple of people away on the
softball bleachers and see Julius Caesar, or, at least the powerful
actor who played him in the recent TNT special, "Caesar."
You just never know who is sharing the magnificence of
So I wasn't surprised yesterday evening when I parked my hot, weary bones next to a young man
who was a Sentinel of Vigilance.
Sentinel's of Vigilance look very ordinary. They
eclipse superstars with their humility.
Most carry the countenance of Clark Kent. You can't see
the Superman cape hidden beneath their clothes. They are usually
mild mannered, non-descript human beings whom you wouldn't consider
capable of saving the world in a single leap over tall buildings.
Kevin Gleason is that kind of guy.
My wife and I
were at the ball fields to watch our friend "Rocket Arm" Mike
A tallish, lean young man,
issuing his words in soft tones and postured with a relaxed slump to
his shoulders, Kevin sat in the shade quietly watching the game.
My wife and I spotted the cooler looking bench and dropped our bags
full of bats, gloves, whiffle balls, frozen water bottles and a camera
to wait for our daughter and three grandchildren. She was
going to join us. The plan was while we watched the ball games,
we would work with the kids, Sarah, 5, and Matt, 7, on batting.
They belong to a little league team, their first experience with Babe
Our Central Park softball
mission included watching a friend of ours, Mike, aka "Rocket Arm,"
play third base for his construction team. Mike's team is
composed of tough guys who build high rises in Manhattan.
All day they carry steel on their shoulders to weave the skeletons
that form New York City's masterful skyline. They were pitted
against a gaggle of Yuppies from Goldman Sachs investment, young tyros
of finance eager to blow away all who stood in their way.
My wife took up a good portion of one bench, and
I took another. Between us sat Kevin Gleason. On the edge
of the bench to my right was a young Englishman who had
just been graduated from an college and was spending a month
in America. He asked me how the game was played, admitting
his ignorance of baseball and softball rules. I began to
explain in my tutorial manner all the elements of the game.
We introduced ourselves. His name is James Gunn.
He didn't know he was sharing a bench with a Sentinel of Vigilance
We all began to cheer the teams. Kevin
joined us in comments about the plays being made, and mentioned he was
there watching his buddy play left field.
When he moved to adjust himself on the bench,
Kevin grimaced. He explained he had been out in the sun and
thought he was putting on adequate sunblock, but he wasn't.
He was recovering yet still a lobster with second degree burns on his
As the long game wore on with both teams smashing home
runs (final score 20 to 12), Kevin and I began to chit-chat.
It turns out that Kevin was a paramedic in the Bronx for a
couple of years before joining Con Edison. He said
he keeps his paramedic training
sharpened by volunteering every weekend for the Central Park
Medical Unit(CPMU). He and three others man an ambulance,
part of nearly 100 volunteers who provide free services to anyone in
the 840-acre park needing medical help.
Vigilance, Kevin Gleason is ordinary looking ala Clark Kent
The team provides everything
from band aid for a scraped knee to someone suffering from cardiac arrest. Kevin or one of the
other paramedic volunteer teams are there to rush the injured to the
hospital--all at no cost. An average New York ambulance rides
starts at $500, Kevin said.
I was interested in the Central Park
staffing of an all-volunteer medical team, and prodded Kevin for more
information. I figured what he did for the tourists and
residents of New York City would make for a good story.
As I was probing Kevin about why he switched from EMT to ConEd, he
took a deep breath and stated in
his calm, relaxed Voice: "I'm not going to be working for
ConEd much longer. I've enlisted in the Navy. I'm
going to be a corpsman."
I wanted to but didn't flinch. His
comment came out of left field. Navy Corpsman? Kevin
looks like any New York Yuppie. He's been to college, lives on
the Upper East Side, works for one of New York's biggest companies,
watches softball in Central Park and yet wants to leave it all and
risk his life in some strange land? I wanted to know more.
My response was automatic. "You know
you'll probably end up with the Marine Corps."
"That's what I want," Kevin said. "My
uncle was a Marine and I wanted to join the Corps when I was 17, but people talked me out of
it. I want to serve my country, and after Nine Eleven I
really thought about it and decided to enlist."
War Memorial "The Unspoken Bond" on display at the National
Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland
"That's so great, Kevin," I
said. "The bravest men I knew were the Corpsmen.
They would crawl into a hail of bullets to fix us, never blinking.
Of all the medals for bravery given, I think they all should go to
Corpsmen. Great guys. I'm proud for you."
Kevin related that not everyone
was as excited about his joining the Navy and heading off into some
far reaches of the world to patch up the wounded.
I told him what I did, wrote
about Vigilance, and was glad he was willing to serve his country, and
wanted to know what kind of flack he received.
"A lot of my friends think I'm crazy.
Why don't you let someone else do that, they say. I
thought about it. I am that someone else."
We talked about the Beast of Terror's
greatest tool--Complacency. Kevin related how so
many members of his family and friends were against him enlisting and
being thrust in harm's way. "My mom is worried something
will happen. My friends think I'm nuts. But
you know, I want to serve my country. I want to do my duty. If I listened to all the advice, I'd not go."
We talked about the fading
responsibility for duty to serve our country among lots of people in
this nation, and compared it to other nations. Kevin
related that everyone in Israel served two years in the military, and
I reminded him that everyone in Switzerland was a member of the
"No one attacks Switzerland because
every citizen has a machine gun under his or her bed," I said.
"I won't carry a weapon, you know,"
"I understand," I replied, "but if
they fighting gets thick, you'll have more than enough weapons around
if you need them."
Kevin chuckled and replied, "that's
exactly what I tell my mother."
of the 15th Marines Expeditionary Unit in Nasiriyah, Iraq
But I knew Kevin wasn't the kind who
had a thirst to kill, but rather was a healer. He would be
the one crawling under the hail of bullets fixing the wounded and
dying, regardless of whether they were the enemy or not.
I knew the kind. The medics in Vietnam were my best of
buddies. I respected them the most.
We talked about the Beast of
Terror, about how so many people in America shy away from the duty of
being a "Sentinel of Vigilance" when the lure of "success" seems to be
"I always wanted to give back
something to my country," he said. "When I was watching the
troops rolling into Baghdad, I wanted to be with them. I wanted
to know I was contributing my part."
I thought of a guy like
Kevin as being a symbol of Vigilance shining in a world that is
sometimes choked by national selfishness.
Here he was, a successful
looking Yuppie-like guy in Central Park watching softball, about to
give up all the rungs of non-combatant success to earn a sense of
pride deep in his soul that he was willing to give his life for
others--not just Americans, but strangers in foreign lands.
I shared with him the deep
feelings I had as U.S. Marine, fighting for the freedom of others in a
Most people forget that the
military in the 21st Century is a Terror-Hunter unit, poised to deploy
to lands where tyranny and oppression threaten not just the people in
that country, but the world at large.
Rogue nations and the
Terrorists who seek to gain power by amassing weapons of mass
destruction to blackmail other nations to leave them alone, are no
longer safe. America and Britain stood up to them in Iraq,
and sent a sharp signal to all Terrorists that at least one of more
than 200 nations in this world is ready to step in and offer its power
and might to quash those who would rape, pillage and plunder others.
Kevin's critics, he noted, just
couldn't understand why he would want to risk his life and give up a
profitable future as a civilian for the gungy life of the military and
all the risks to life and limb that await him.
"They were getting to me," he
confessed. "So many people not supporting my decision,
questioning me, urging me not to enlist. But I knew if I
didn't do it on the grounds that someone else would, and everyone else
didn't because someone else would, nobody would."
As the game was nearing
its 7th inning, we talked about the Principles of Vigilance.
I shared with Kevin my website's goal, and how frustrating it was for
me to drive the message home that every human being, not only
Americans, owed it to their children, their nations and the world to
be a Sentinel of Vigilance.
"The duty is really to
the future generations," I said, "not just to America or the flag, but
to the Children's Children's Children. If no one is willing to
fight for people's freedom, to risk their lives for the future of a
globe free of Terror threats, then we'll all end up cowering under the
shadow of the Beast of Terror. I'm proud of your choice,
Kevin. So are all the future children of the world. And,
those who died on Nine Eleven, the original Sentinels of Vigilance,
they're proud too."
of Vigilance from Nine Eleven are cheering Kevin Gleason
I asked Kevin's permission to
write a story about him and took a couple of pictures.
He painfully rose from the bench and
met his friend who had been playing left field. I watched them
walk away in the dimming light, a couple of Yuppie-looking guys.
But as I studied Kevin, I saw the
Shield of Vigilance growing out of his left hand, a strong thick
fortress of metal to ward off Terrorism's Fear, Intimidation and
In his right hand, instead of the
Sword of Vigilance, was a medic's bag, filled with the repair tools to
save lives. It glistened in the dusky light, a healer not
just of bodies, but of souls.
I could hear the chant from the World
Trade Center where nearly 3,000 Sentinels of Vigilance died on
September 11, 2001, cheering on Kevin Gleason.
8--NY Times Editorial Dungslingers Feed The Beast Of Terror
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