Life, and Death, on the Fringe

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Navy Captain Carroll LeFon

It was with great sadness Wednesday that I learned of the death of retired TOPGUN pilot Navy Captain Carroll LeFon, killed Tuesday morning when his jet crashed at Naval Air Station Fallon in Nevada.

LeFon was better known as Neptunus Lex, at least to those in the military blogging community, and was well celebrated for his wit, sharp analysis and poetic musings.

Though I never met LeFon in person, we exchanged many emails, and he was one of the first to email and tell me to “stay frosty,” in the wake of my own blog getting shut down in 2008 by command. (For a young lieutenant, certain that he’d stoked the full ire of the military beast for one rambling blog post, to hear reassuring words from a retired TOPGUN pilot was  … comforting, to say the least.)

Prone to quoting Yeats and waxing eloquent on the merits of Guinness, LeFon always struck me as a sort of renaissance man that young men aspire to be but can never really achieve – full, vibrant and accomplished. It seems rather banal to say I looked up to him, but it’s true.

Rather cryptically, one of LeFon’s last entries details a close call he had as a trainer for student fighter pilots at Naval Air Station Fallon. He compared his work to snake wrestling. But, LeFon wrote, “even snake wrestling beats life in the cube, for me at least. In measured doses.”

Life on the fringe, nothing new for the select few in our military. RIP, man. And thank you.