Thank you for the notice regarding Damon’s family memorial. Very unfortunate timing for me as I will be in Wyoming at that time with my son. However, Madeline, my wife is planning to attend. The Wyoming trip is our annual antelope hunt and I had expected again this year to rendezvous with Sarah and Damon. We had already talked and tentatively planned our trips and the prospect of intersecting with one another in that sweeping Wyoming landscape we all came to love. My son’s life is getting quite busy now as he has been accepted by Delta airlines for a position, so this trip with him is important as it may be one of our last together. Damon generously got Patrick some needed flight hours in his plane this past Christmas when Patrick was home for a visit.

I just want to tell you that Damon was a good and valuable friend and influence on me. He and I shared a common interest in hunting, shooting, geology and general all-round events of interest. We both enjoyed fitting the daily worries and events of the moment in a geologic time frame that always brought a laugh. We got along well proven by the considerable time we spent together in physically tough conditions and yet remained friends through it all. What was particularly unique about our friendship was an appreciation for one another’s abilities in different arenas. Damon, who was a strong and thoughtful leader, would defer to me when it came to hunting strategies as I was more experienced in that regard. I, on the other hand, deferred and learned from his abilities when it came to shooting skills and the particulars of certain aspects of geology. There really was no ego clash between us which can so often interfere with people’s relationships. I think it was because we had a mutual respect for one another’s capabilities and an interest in learning from one another. Damon was very good at taking apart the details of things, while not losing track of the larger context in which he was operating. I think ours was a unique and valuable friendship and I can’t tell you how much I am missing him and am going to miss as time goes by. We all know our lives will end one way or the other, but what is so hard is when those with whom we are intertwined are taken too soon.

You should also know that Damon was very highly regarded at the Valley of the Moon Trap Club (a local shotgun and rifle shooting club). He volunteered regularly at the rifle range and when news of his death arrived his fellows at the rifle range were truly shocked and saddened. One of the “old boys”, a former marine, retired San Francisco police officer and all around tough guy was visibly saddened and said in his thoughtful manner, ” Oh man, we lost a good one.” The club flew the flag at half mast.

I understand the intensity of grief that accompanies this tragedy. My sister Peggy, her husband and a friend were all lost in a kayak mishap years ago when Peggy, my wonderful, little adventurous sister was only 24 years old. It was devastating to me and I cannot comprehend how my parents were able to hold together through that. I learned then, at least for myself, that relief only comes with the passing of time, and given enough of it the horribly sharp edges of grief and regret will be slowly be worn down, never gone, never forgotten, but blunted enough so that we can move along with life, since life seems never to wait for us.

I just want to finish by wishing you and your mother the best. We are all stunned by this tragedy. Just know that Damon was a wonderful fellow and the things he did and said are part of us now. I certainly will never forget him and will hold close the memories and places we shared.

Mike Malone