Retired Marine Capt. Jack Paxton of Wildwood was laid to rest at the Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell just two months ago — but the very last projects to which the North Carolina transplant devoted his energies continue to bear fruit.

Navy Capt. William Bray reviewed Paxton's opus, "First to Fight," in the current issue of Proceedings magazine, published by the U.S. Naval Institute and long regarded as the top professional journal in the world of national defense.

Paxton's self-proclaimed "labor of love" saw him editing a compilation of current essays which he cajoled from dozens of Marine combat correspondents, including Col. Fred Peck's eyewitness account of dangerous adventures in Mogadishu in 1992-93; Sgt. Shawn Rhodes' take on Iraq's infamous Sunni Triangle in 2004; and Master Sgt. Manny Pacheco's assignment as an NCO with field-grade officer responsibilities, which saw him covering more than 50 countries throughout Europe and Africa in 1999.

Review copies were being sent out by Haworth, New Jersey's St. Johann Press just weeks before Paxton was admitted to Leesburg Regional Medical Center with a stroke. The longtime executive director of the U.S. Marine Combat Correspondents Association  died April 17, at 89.

Pat Paxton, Jack's bride and globetrotting traveling companion (usually aboard "military hops"), grew up in Mount Dora and Wildwood.

Paxton's other successful endeavor was planning the combat correspondent group's annual golf tournament (for the benefit of the Wounded Warrior Foundation), which  "played on" as scheduled only 10 days after the skipper's passing. The Daily Commercial's media partner, Ron Bisson of WLBE-AM 790, even had Paxton on the air days prior to his hospitalization, promoting both the tourney and the book.

Talk about going out strong! We love you, Frere Jacque.

SAVED ROUNDS

Fans of the Commercial's SALUTE section tend first to focus on the top left corner of the page, where they happily find Linda Charlton's "Chat With a Veteran" feature. Thank you, Linda, for all those Saturday morning smiles you bring to Lake and Sumter readers — especially to those highlighted vets and their families.

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Friend Joe Galloway, the famed combat reporter, is being portrayed on the big screen. Again. "Shock and Awe" is being released in theaters (including The Villages' Old Mill Playhouse) this weekend. Joe, who was portrayed by Barry Pepper in the Mel Gibson rendition of "We Were Soldiers," this time drew fellow Texan Tommy Lee Jones in one of the story's pivotal roles.

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Speaking of journalism, if you missed your hometown newspaper's editorial dealing with the Annapolis Capital's newsroom murders, it's worth any American's perusal. Just go to www.dailycommercial.com and check out the July 7 editorial on page A7. One of those killed, Annapolis pal Wendi Winters, would've been very approving of this newspaper's generous ink afforded military veterans: she was Mom to three Navy officers and her youngest, Summer, was commander of the NJROTC at Annapolis High School.

 

Keith Oliver is a retired Marine with nearly 30 years of service, including Operations Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom, and deployments to Lebanon, Panama and Somalia. Email him at LZLakehawk@gmail.com.