North Kenai Marine is prepared to fight

Central peninsula men do their part in new war

Posted: Monday, January 07, 2002

Calvin T. Lundy of North Kenai is the kind of guy who will take on a chore job to ensure team success -- no matter how difficult or distasteful it may be, said Charmaine Lundy, Calvin's mother. Calvin is making use of that trait as he serves his country in Afghanistan.

Calvin is a Lance Corporal with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit. Charmaine doesn't know his exact location at the moment, but thought he may be in Kandahar as of two weeks ago.

"I do worry about him, but I can't start letting it get to me," she said. "I can't even let myself start down that road. I know he's trained to do the things he's doing, and he's got a good head on his shoulders."

Calvin joined the Marines in July 1999. He signed up in December of his senior year at Nikiski High School and left for boot camp in San Diego seven months later. Calvin graduated third in his company from boot camp and was trained as a combat engineer. That line of work may seem particularly hazardous in light of recent world events, but Charmaine spoke to a retired Marine who reassured her about her son's safety.

"He said that Calvin is trained to remove the land mines so that's the good part because he'll be looking for them," she said. "It's the ones not looking that get hurt by them."

Calvin was serving on the USS Dubuque, an amphibious transport ship, on Sept. 11. He was on a humanitarian mission delivering water to East Timor. Calvin e-mailed his mother Sept. 13 to tell her he was fine and that nothing had happened with his company yet.

"I just couldn't believe it," Calvin said in his e-mail. "I came in and saw a burning building on the TV and thought it was a movie. I'm shocked that it happened, but I'm not surprised that it did. Planes can't be controlled by anyone but the pilot, so using them was devious and inventive. The targets were planned well, too. Both were easily found and not defended. Only the White House has a defensive area around it."

Charmaine said the content of the e-mail surprised her.

"It was so unlike my son," she said. "That isn't the little boy who wrestled and played football. He is very much a Marine. He might be my son, but it's very clear he's their man."

Joining the Marines wasn't always something Calvin planned to do. For five years before joining, he wanted to be an architect. He and Charmaine had been looking into architect schools when Calvin's brother, Bert Lundy, was in a near-fatal accident during Calvin's senior year. Calvin visited his mother and brother while they were at Providence Hospital in Anchorage one weekend and announced he wanted to be a teacher.

"The next weekend he came up and said, 'Gee, I think I want to be a Marine," Charmaine said. "After five years of architect, I thought 'this too will pass.' But the next weekend he signed up."

Calvin's father died when Calvin was 4, so Charmaine and her sons moved from Bethel to North Kenai to be close to her parents, Neil L. and Margaret Wirz. Neil, who passed away in 1999, was a retired Marine, and Charmaine thinks Calvin got the idea to enlist from his bond with his grandfather.

"His grandparents played a huge role in his life," she said. "His grandfather never pushed him, but he knew his grandfather had been a Marine and thought, 'Gosh, he turned out to be a pretty great guy, so I'll do that, too."

In school, Calvin was involved in sports. He was a football standout, took state as a wrestler his senior year and played soccer.

The family is all proud of him, Charmaine said. Calvin has been a role model for his younger brother and nephew Michael Wirz, who joined the Young Marines after Calvin enlisted.

"All three boys are close," Charmaine said. "When Calvin graduated from boot camp in October, my sister and Mike went down. It made you proud of all those young men, the discipline and coordination of our boys transformed into sterling young men. He left home a great guy; his coaches and teachers -- all would tell you that, and came home a strong young man of integrity."

The last letter Charmaine received from Calvin was on Dec. 18. The Marines had no paper to use while on the Dubuque, so Calvin wrote on the back of a meals-ready-to-eat box.

"It was 4-by-6 inches long," she said. "So this is the longest letter I've ever received from him. In truth that was my Christmas."

Calvin wrote the letter from Pakistan, where his company was stationed until they were ordered into Afghanistan.

Charmaine isn't sure when she will see her son again but has heard a rumor he might return to the United States in late February or March. Before Sept. 11, Calvin was scheduled to return to San Diego Feb. 5, but Charmaine received an e-mail saying his company would be in service for another three to four weeks beyond that. But whenever he returns, Charmaine will be waiting.

"We know he'll come home when he can," she said. "My plan is to be wherever he lands when he sets foot on American soil."

In the letter Charmaine received Dec. 18, Calvin sounded confident.

"He said, 'We're trained and we're ready.' He said they were trained to do a job, they were ready to do a job, they needed to do a job, and they were just waiting to do a job."

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