Stories about Mark

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As a Gold Star Mom, there is not a day that goes by that I do not mourn the loss of my son. While I am immensely proud of his service to his country that resulted in his ultimate sacrifice, I am also driven to honor his memory each and every day.
 
After his cremation, we wrestled with locations for his final resting place. The decision was made to inurn Mark at the Arlington National Cemetery. Mark was buried with full military honors befitting his hero status. There was a degree of closure that I had not known as my son was finally resting with some of this nation’s finest. He is in good company.
 
My wish is that a part of Mark lives on through this scholarship helping young people achieve the same goals that Mark aspired. It gives me the opportunity to continue to tell the story of my only son, of his gentle and kind nature, and selfless devotion to his friends. He was a great son who evolved into a fine man, and a proud Marine.
 
Mark’s mother, Martha Goyet that day remembered his smile.  He was always happy, she said.  A Sergeant he had served with agreed.  There are a lot of Marines who really care for Mark, he said.  His family and friends remembered him for his joyful smile and wonderful hugs.  He embraced life and enjoyed it like there was no tomorrow.  Martha told how once he helped her expertly moved from table to table, raising a small stake into a thousand dollars in short order.  He ran out of the casino, exuberant.  But not for the reason she had thought.  Mark immediately called a friend in the Corps whose family faced a financial emergency: you don’t have to worry, he said.  You’ve got the money.  

 

There were many other memories that day and since from Mark’s family and friends in the Marines and community.  More than 150 waited for him outside the hangar, many with American flags, with hands over their hearts, and tears.  People stood along the route from the airport, and in the four towns along the way home.  There was no church large enough for all those from the community who wanted to attend, and so, for the memorial service, 1500 came again to the Sinton High School Stadium, at the field where Mark had played under the lights. 

I never had the privilege of meeting Mark in person, but I did have the privilege of finding the Hero Bracelet with his name on it while I was on a GoRuck event in College Station, Texas in 2013. The other GoRuck participants and I were walking though Veteran's Park in the middle of the night, We were all carrying extra sandbags along with our weighted rucks. We walked out of the park in a single file line. I don't recall exactly where I was in the formation, but I do recall looking down at the exact moment that I saw the bracelet in the grass. I knew the moment that I saw it that this bracelet was a memorial/ hero bracelet as I already wore one for a Marine from Texas MIA from the Vietnam War. I am not sure how I saw it so well as it was very dark and the bracelet is black, however knowing what it was I immediately picked it up, put it on my wrist and finished my event a few hours later. I never read the name on the bracelet as I didn't have time during the ruck... I just knew I couldn't leave it in the grass so I picked it up and wore it.

 

At the end of the ruck I asked everyone there if they had lost the bracelet but no one claimed it. A few days passed and I decided to contact the bracelet organization to see if I could find the owner of the bracelet. I assumed someone lost it while walking through the park and they would want it back. The representative informed me that they had no record of the previous owner in this area so I could return the bracelet to them or I could keep it for myself. Without hesitation I said I would keep it. I continued to wear the bracelet every day praying for the Marine and his family.

 

A few months passed and while on Facebook one ordinary day, I came across a page dedicated to fallen heroes. I didn't recognize the face of the Marine but I immediately recognized the name- CPL Mark R. Goyet was the hero of the day! This was the face of my Hero bracelet Marine that I found!!! I quickly typed that Mark was my bracelet hero and I was one of the many who prayed for him and was grateful for his sacrifice. Martha soon "liked" my comment and thanked me for keeping Mark's memory alive. We messaged back and forth a few times as I explained how I found his bracelet. We quickly became Facebook friends and I was drawn in to this wonderful family. I was able to see pictures of Mark while he served, his smile in every picture, family pictures of fun times and all the moving heart wrenching photos of his memorial services.

 

Again, I never met Mark or any of his family and friends but I do believe God brought me to that spot on that day to find Mark's bracelet. As an elementary school physical education teacher it is my job to educate our children about the sacrifices that so many men and women make for our safety and freedoms. I use every opportunity possible to share Mark's story with my students. I show them his pictures and we talk about his ultimate sacrifice. We even do special workouts in his honor on his birthday. I want all my students to know of Mark and never forget what sacrifice Mark gave for their freedoms!

Jennifer Schexnailder