Nic Madrazo was (is still) one of the best people I have ever known. He was funny, kind to those that could do nothing for him, a man of faith, a lover of life, the best wingman, and had a mean cross over on the basketball court. We were friends for 12 years before a massive IED detonated under his Humvee during operations in Afghanistan, killing the young Marine lieutenant and everyone else in his truck.
Nic wasn’t just a light in our dark world, he was The Light in most of the spaces he entered. Stories from in-theater have trickled back since his death that served to reinforce the high regard those of us that grew up with him felt (and still feel). Some of those stories involved him playing soccer with the local Afghan youths before leaving the wire to lead operations, for example. Or from his French military liaisons, who commented on his ability to brighten any situation, regardless of how terribly sh***y it was.
One year after my six year commitment to the US Navy ended, Nic was called away, and I will never forgive myself for not being able to do something more. With that guilt has come a passion and drive to do all that I can for this world, and those we share this precious space with.
Truth be told, Nic is still brightening the world through the friends and family he touched during his short 25 years on this planet. Every good thing I’ve done these past six years has been a reflection of my flawed attempts to honor his memory.
I loved (still love) Nic like a brother, I miss knowing he’s on the other end of a phone call, and I hope and pray to God that our United States will honor his ultimate sacrifice.
Being our best, day in and day out, and helping this nation to realize its potential, is the only thing that will ever be enough to honor his life and sacrifice.