Article Overview:   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.


Wednesday--July 9, 2003óGround Zero Plus 665
A Yuppie's "Duty" To Battle The Beast Of Terror
Cliff McKenzie
   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.

  Jeremy 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 Central Park.
    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 Ruthism.
          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 either.
     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 legs.
     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.

Sentinel of 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."

The Corpsmen 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 militia.
        "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," Kevin said.
        "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."

Corpsman part 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 overpowering them.
         "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 strange land.
         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."

The Sentinels 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 Complacency.  
        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.


July 8--NY Times Editorial Dungslingers Feed The Beast Of Terror

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