He is was 24.

A Crossfit coach, new husband, Marine Officer and someone who could embody courage, humor and loyalty without coming across as cocky.

Will Thompson was someone I knew peripherally from his time at Crossfit, as an athlete and coach; I used to watch him at Crossfit Kids where he would have a kind, inspirational style of leadership. His commissioning ceremony was held at our gym, one of the few events like that I’ve attended, and did so because I thought it was a pretty big deal, what he was doing. And now, in an almost inconceivably short amount of time, he was diagnosed with cancer and yesterday he departed this mortal coil. I cannot shake how unfair it seems to me, the fact that the random wheel of chance chose him, now.

Two of my brothers were also Marines, and one of them, too, was diagnosed with cancer while still a teen. He endured round after round of chemo before he was able to legally drink a beer, and I am eternally grateful to the Corps that his treatments were paid for; but again, it’s a random stroke of chance that he is here with us and Will is not. I remember Will’s laugh, the way that he seemed to really rise above his age and always had a kind word to say. A competitor of exceptional talent, he was never a douchebag about it, always willing to show others the tips and skills to further their efforts in fitness. It’s no surprise to me that he took this mindset into leading hundreds of other young people in service to their country. Will Thompson was, and always will be, a leader of men and women in my eyes. I saw a video today of him offering up a speech to his Marines from the hospital, urging strength even as his was being sapped and his time limited to days, if not hours (see it here). It’s a gut-wrenching view of the young man I knew as a loud and strong example of fitness and health.

And I’ve wondered, too, how best to honor him without seeming like I’m trying to compete with the dozens of those who’ve offered up pictures, testimonies and social media commentary about their own reactions to Will’s passing. It’s not really about how it makes me feel, though….that’s a selfish avenue. It’s about Will Thompson, the young and strong leader, the guy who always had time to crack a joke with me when we ran into one another, the guy everyone wanted at their party to make it just a little better, more goofy and fun by the minute.

This has been a year of quite a bit of death, more so than I normally witness. My heart bleeds for those left behind, and my naive optimism hopes for an exciting and better journey for those who left us. I miss those I’ve known, I question the logic of it all and in the end I am left grateful for each day that I’m granted on this planet.

God Speed and Semper Fidelis, William Thompson. You are loved, you are missed and your mark has been left in the best possible way in your time with us; lucky are those of us who knew you in any capacity.