Posted by: Dahni | February 17, 2018

Otis ‘Odie’ Dean Essex

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by Dahni
© 2018, all rights reserved

Otis ‘Odie’ Dean Essex

Another friend and one of the few remaining of, “the greatest generation,” clings not to life, but to his final farewell. Otis Dean Essex is, a patriot and served his country in the Navy, in WWII, on board the USS Murphy, DD603 as a fireman. ‘Odie,’ (as he is affectionately called), and the Murphy participated in nearly ever major event of the war:

USS Murphy DD603

The Murphy, a small battleship was built for speed. Odie and crew often thought of themselves as the “guinea pig ship.” They always seemed to be in front, to escort other ships, first in front to look for U-boats and torpedoes and first in front, in case there were mines or other troubles, waiting in ambush. Odie’s and the Murphy escorted caravans of ships with supplies and crew to Europe. Odie and the Murphy escorted the USS Quincy, with President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR), on board, to the Yalta Convention with FDR, Churchill and Stalin. Odie and the Murphy then, went and picked up the King of Saudi Arabia, for a historic meeting with FDR. Odie and the Murphy provided shell cover, for the landing, at Normandy Beach. Odie and the Murphy, were part of the first group of ships bringing medical relief, after the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Japan. Odie and the Murphy participated in every major event of WWII. Not too bad for a ship that once was, literally, cut in half, losing its entire bow and had to be towed back to port and refitted. But mostly, Odie and the Murphy, participated in helping to liberate the world from tyranny and much in part, to our personal; present, liberty and freedom.

After his service to the Navy and his service to our country, Odie continued to serve. Then it became service, for the spiritual needs of many men and women and chikdren as, a pastor, teacher and preacher. Whether or not he actually was, the crew of the Murphy’s annual reunion, for many years, called him, “Chaplain Odie.”

I personally attended quite a few of these Murphy reunions. I was honored to take their portraits and participate in their lives, for several years. Odie nicknamed me the ‘Fly,’ as it seemed to him like anytime, anyone turned around, I was there, with camera in hand, ready to capture the moment. And Oh, if you could have been, like a “fly on the wall,” to all I witnessed!!!

Odie and each member of the Murphy, became my friends and my family! What extraordinary times these were, meeting the sailors and their families and their friends, and hearing their stories, including Odie’s!

One time, at Odie’s request, I took a picture of three of the crew and their arms that had the same tattoo from near the beginning of their service. 🙂

The ‘Tattoo Boys’ – ‘Odie’ Otis Dean Essex (far right)

Odie always said grace at meals, for those reunions. He opened and closed them in prayer. On Sundays, the last day of the reunion, and after breakfast and before most people left to return home, Odie always offered a small service, to anyone wanting to come. My wife Susan and her brother Kevin, sang duets, for many of these and the rest of us sang hymns, from printed programs. It was a short time and a sweet time and a great way to start the day, before heading home.

Odie was a wonderful teacher and storyteller. He had a great knack in relating Biblical truths to current events and presented them in jovial and easily understood messages. If I were to look for them, I believe I still have a copy of every one of those programs from those that I attended, of every Murphy Reunion Sunday service that Odie did. Each of my programs are scribbled with so many of my hand-written notes, you can hardly read the original printing! Odie really made the Bible come alive, for me and he made me think!

Dessie Guedel Essex & Otis Dean Essex

Just days ago, it was discovered that Odie seems to have lung cancer, which has spread to his brain. After a family vote (which Odie insisted on), and not wanting to remain in the hospital, Odie was moved to hospice, at Woodlawn Compassionate Care, near Canton, OH.

Today, outside his hospice room, an American flag, flies in his honor, for the Liberty and the Freedom, Odie helped to preserve, protect and provide, to myself and many countless others. Outside his room the sign reads, “guest room.” I’m sure he would agree with that, as we are all just passing through this life, in route to HOME!

Inside his room, close family and friends gathered, not in a scene of clinging to life, but with hymns and joy, clarity and process, clinging to farewell.

Today, inside this room with Odie, with his beloved wife Dessie Guedel Essex by his side and close family and friends there gathered, they described it as, a “Love Fest!” Odie often said in his correspondence and communications with me and others, “Love, Prayers, Peace and Stuff!”

One of the songs often sung at the reunions was, ‘This World is Not My Home.” Odie believed that! He made me believe it! He still believes this!

We are all here, for just a time. We are here, just passing through, to our Eternal and Everlasting Home!

At the beginning of every Murphy reunion, there would be the ringing of the ship’s bell, once for each member of the crew that had passed on, that previous year. The Bell does not yet toll, for Odie.

But it was said of those passing, they had gone on to, ‘The Eternal Port.’

I was blessed with those words and their imagery.

I will close this now, with a picture I had made for each member of the crew and a poem I wrote.

‘The Eternal Port’

“A sailor will never lie, in endless sleep;
For theirs is still a mission to keep.
A labor of love and not a chore,
With ever this promise, to meet you once more.
And so a kiss, to seal this token sort;
Until anchored beside, The Eternal Port”

For more information (a journey really), about ‘Odie’ and ‘The Murphy,’ please visit their website. It is still maintained by one of the few remaining of “the greatest generation,” of the few remaining crew and one of about three of, the original crew members, Joe VanEyezeren. Joe just recently lost his beloved wife Olive. Love em’ if yah’ gotem’! Carpe diem (seize the day)!

Just I-Magine,

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