Rakus Family shares ‘tremendous gratitude’

LOS ANGELES AFB, CA -- Ladies and Gentlemen:

I am writing you today to express the deep and heartfelt thanks my family and I have for the overwhelming support you have provided us following the tragic and untimely passing of our beloved son Jeffrey Alan Rakus, on July 7, 2006. In the time since, we have experienced first-hand the formidable power of the community to aid us in our time of need. Among those organizing and focusing that power we specifically recognize:

1. The SMC Chaplain Corps with special recognition to Chaplain (Maj.) Lawrence Goddard for staying with us that first awful night, and Chaplain (Capt.) Bradley Kimble for spearheading the beautiful memorial service held at the Community Center.

2. The Department of Defense Police, especially Officer Shonda Martin for standing watch over us at the San Pedro hospital all evening.

3. The Air Force Office of Special Investigations detachment for interviewing witnesses to get us a complete and consistent story, for securing Jeffrey's personal items, and for tracking status of the coroner's investigation.

4. The Base Pool for making Jeffrey very happy in this life by employing him in a job he loved. We also thank his fellow lifeguards for being his friends, and, in particular, note the efforts of Andy Miller and Patrick Murphy in attempting to revive Jeffrey after he collapsed.

5. My leadership and co-workers in the SMC Acquisition Center of Excellence, particularly Lt. Col. Jean Hebert, Capt Signe Vaughn, and Ms Maria Scardera for providing immediate logistics support, rearranging my duties and work schedule, and coming to our home to comfort us.

6. Our friends and neighbors from the base housing community and the Officers Spouses' Club for all the home-cooked meals, comforting visits and check-up telephone calls.

7. The Los Angeles Air Force Base Youth Center for the flowers, gifts and kind letters remembering our lifeguard son's influence on their lives.

8. The Services' Squadron for their support of the memorial at The Community Center.

9. The SMC Public Affairs office for proofreading and editing Jeffrey's obituary and publishing it in the Astro News, and

10. The entire Space and Missile Systems Center family for attending Jeffrey's viewing and funeral, all the cards, flowers, letters, gifts, offers of leave donations and other support both given and ongoing.

The last few weeks have been an extremely stressful and trying time for my family, but thanks to all of the incredible help you have given, we will make it through this horrendous change in our lives. While we can only strive to follow the example Jeffrey set in life, he would be very proud of all of you in the work you did to bid him farewell.

With tremendous gratitude,
The Rakus Family
San Pedro, California


(Editor's note: Jeffrey Alan Rakus (19) unexpectedly passed away July 7. He served as a lifeguard at the Fort MacArthur swimming pool. )