Serving in Jeff’s Honor

Jonah Thompson

Navy veteran Scott Coykendall deployed on Operation Moonshot just two days after learning about the loss of a comrade-in-arms.

On April 21, I received some devastating news about a man who made a significant impact on who I am today. He had been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer a few months earlier and finally lost his battle. Jeff was the man who two years into my Navy career convinced me to aim for 20. He and I served on board my first duty station, USS Annapolis (SSN-760) together. The work ethic he instilled in me at a young age is the same work ethic I find with Team Rubicon, that attitude of kicking ass and getting shit done.

Operation Moonshot launched two days after Jeff’s death, and I knew I needed to have some time to reflect on him as a man and do something in his honor, using that work ethic he taught me over 20 years ago. The healing effect of being with other service-driven people is just what I needed to help me deal with his loss. We all come together with one purpose, to utilize our skills to assist in any way possible to benefit the community, and it’s members who suffered property loss or damage as the result of a disaster.

Strike teams assist Houston-area homeowners affected by severe flooding in April.

Strike teams assist Houston-area homeowners affected by severe flooding in April.

I constantly see the true appreciation for the work we have done on the faces of the homeowners. What we see as simple clean-ups helps them see the hope in rebuilding what they have lost, after what they thought was a disastrous end to the lives they had known. This is truly healing for both me and the homeowners whom I’ve had the honor of helping in such a hard time in each of our lives.

I look at the work we do with Team Rubicon – we get dirty doing good for a community that is in dire need of help. We do it because it gives us a sense of community, both with each other and with those who don’t understand what we have done as veterans. We have a sense of purpose, a sense of belonging, and a line of support that many of us didn’t have before the TR bug bit us.

Dozens of members were making their moms proud by serving Texas on Mother's Day.

Scott joined dozens of members in making their moms proud by serving Texas on Mother’s Day.

Jeff’s memory and the work I have done here will live on in Houston and wherever in the world Team Rubicon takes me. Until we meet again in another time and place, you will remain in my heart, Jeff. Thank you for leading me down the path of good and I will see you on the other side…

Operation Moonshot is Scott's third deployment with Team Rubicon.

Operation Moonshot is Scott’s third deployment with Team Rubicon.

  • Reflection

    A Better Tomorrow

    A volunteer responding to tornadoes in Ohio gets a glimpse at the hidden value of the work Greyshirts do.

  • Preparedness

    How to Prepare Your Pets for Disaster

    From leashes for Fido to carriers for Kitty, here are our top disaster preparedness for pets tips to add to your emergency planning now.

  • Feature Story

    Serving World Health Means Innovating

    From Haiti to Ukraine, for World Health Day, we look at where we've delivered disaster relief and humanitarian aid over the past 14 years, and how far we have to go.

Read More Stories