Remembering women veterans: Patty Berg — Golf star and Marine

Patty Berg
Patty Berg

Patty Berg

Many people think women golfers are a recent phenomenon, but the story of Patty Berg goes back a half century. Patty Berg helped create the LPGA in 1948 and was the LPGA’s first president. Berg won 15 major titles which is an all-time record for a woman golfer. Berg also served in WWII as a Marine lieutenant. This memorial day Oregon Women’s Report would like to remember this great American veteran and outstanding athlete Patty Berg.

Adam Buyes

On a gloomy December Saturday, my four-year-old son Jack haphazardly threw Christmas decorations on any available flat surface while Jude, the baby, grabbed at red stockings with his chubby hands. Time was steaming toward Christmas, but my mind was a mile down the road. At that very moment, a funeral for a young man who grew up attending my church was uniting a community and tearing apart a family. Adam Buyes, a corporal in the Marine Corps, died on November 26, 2011 in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. He was only 21.

I know in Oregon, we often don’t see the impact of the war. There are no active-duty bases of any branch. There are no movie theaters, bars or restaurants replete with men and women in uniform on Saturday nights. There are no fighter jets filling the skies with their piercing screams. Even I, as a military wife, (my husband Nick is a staff sergeant in the Air Force) can forget about the military sometimes here. Yet I couldn’t on December 10.

I wanted to do something — anything — to show the Buyes family we cared. I sent a sympathy card, which always feels so small and ineffective. So when my friend reminded me that the funeral procession was passing by very close to my house, I knew I had to go. I dug some cardboard out of the recycling bin, grabbed a Sharpie and started making a sign near the funeral’s end.

Jude had just woken up. Jack had just walked into the kitchen with only a shirt on and nothing else. My lunch was half-eaten, and my pitiful sign wasn’t finished. But Nick called and said the procession was leaving the parking lot. So I threw some clothes on Jack and Jude in the stroller. I snatched up some hats and gloves and coats. And we booked it to the corner of 45th and Center.

Jack asked why we were there. I told him a man in the military had been killed by the bad guys, but it was okay because his spirit still lived in heaven with Jesus. And now, his body and his family were driving by, and we wanted to let them know we cared.

Jack’s only four. But he totally got it. The police escorts and Patriot Guard riders came first. They all smiled, nodded and waved at Jack. He thought it was a parade, I think. Then, Adam’s mom Carla and the family drove by. She started crying when she saw Jack holding his sign, and she blew him a kiss.

My pathetic, not-even-finished creation simply said, “Thank you, Adam.”

It was only a split second, but her look was like a punch in the gut. I wouldn’t have understood before I became a mother…but now I do.

Fifteen minutes after the entire procession left, Jack wouldn’t give up his post. Let’s go home, I told him. It’s starting to rain. No, he replied. I want everyone to read my sign and know about the good guy.

Me, too.

By Crystal Kupper