I visited with Mr. Marquis for about an hour yesterday. Just a few rambling thoughts as I write from work.
He seemed like he felt good and enjoyed talking. He even chuckled a few times. We were talking about his boat rebuild and he was pretty excited about that. Then the topic of the recognition ceremony came up and his demeanor changed just a little. I said something like "Looks like you're aren't looking forward to that so much" and he gave a kind of impish smile and then I said "Well, you're just going to have to take the bad with the good". For some reason that struck him funny, probably because he is feeling that way somewhat - getting his boat redone (good) but having to put up with all the fuss (bad). Having said that, let me go on to say I'm sure he appreciates the time and effort going into the ceremony. About his boat, without knowing how much he knows about the restoration, I told him about how bad his mags were and what a beautiful job Mike had done on them. He said that whenever he went to run his boat the last few years he always had to mess with them and file the points to get it going.
So much has been posted about the events of that night and things he has said about them so some of this may be repeat. One thing I don't think I had heard before was that he saw the plane for awhile before the crash. So I said something like "Oh, then you knew it was going down". He said no, it was so dark that there wasn't a horizon so he couldn't guage the altitude at all. He just saw the lights of the plane and then the big fireball. He repeated to me that had it been five minutes later he wouldn't have seen it.
The rake that's on the boat now is not the rake that was on it that night. It originally had tubing with a piece of aluminum riveted to it but as has been said before he bent it when he hit a piece of the plane (he doesn't know what kind of piece). He said the sawgrass was 8-10 feet tall there and it was all he and his partner could do to get off of it. The area of the bulk of the crash itself was not deep sawgrass. He didn't say whether there was no sawgrass there or if the plane had just mashed it all down.
He said that after all the rescue people got there he wound up riding doctors around in an ever increasing radius looking for survivors. After they determined there were no more and still before sunrise, the person in charge told him he could go home as they didn't want to do anything else until after good daylight so they could photograph everything before it was disturbed. He said he got back home just about daylight.
Now about his camp and the surrounding area. It's probably safe to say no one knows that area like him and it's likely no one ever will. He worked the area as leo and then after leaving that he said he seldom ever missed a weekend out there and never missed two weekends in a row. He said he spent as many as 30 days at the time out there at his and other's camps. Just living in the glades. As he told me various stories he was calling off the names of the levies, sloughs, sections of Tamiami Trail, etc.. telling me you run this until you see that and then turn there and go this way... Needless to say it was all over my head since other than driving the trail a couple of times I haven't been out there at all.
He asked if I had a boat and how wide it is. When I said eight feet he told me I couldn't get to his camp. If you're wider than 7'2" you can't get back there. Used to be 7' even, but then he widened it a little. It's been about two years since he's been back there and he really wants to go again.
On his leo career, he got a state airboat his last two years. He said that when he started there were only him and two other officers that had all of Dade and Monroe counties. At some point he got talked into taking the sergeant's exam in Tallahassee (in his words he was "just about made to") and was then made sergeant. He didn't go into specifics other than to say "Too many bosses", but it wasn 't fun for him anymore after that so he quit.
About present day stuff, although he was quick to say he didn't need gps, he was clearly intrigued and understanding of it's value since playing with John C's. BTW he said that on one of the rides the other day the lead boat was going wrong and John C in the back kept wanting to follow the lead. He had to keep John C going the right way. :lol: :lol:
About all the stuff that's going on now he's appreciative and excited. I don't know how much of the stuff he's seen printed out. He asked specifically abou the youtube thing that was put together and although I was able to tell him all about how the website worked (and a good bit abou the web in general) stupid me didn't ask if he'd actually seen the video or just heard about it. Someone with a laptop and an air card needs to get over there and show him stuff. I have an extra laptop but no card. One thing he wanted to know about southernairboat and youtube was who paid for it. I described banner ads and hits and he understood. Mentally, he's sharp as a tack. He's just been kind of isolated for so long that he's behind the times.
He asked if I would call John C for him because he wanted to make sure the steelflex was the right color. John, I can tell you that in watching him talk to you and talk about you, you have really earned a special place in his heart. Same goes for Ken Pine. I told him a lot about the other people involved too but all I know about the rest of you is your screen names. Oh, he thought the idea of screen names was funny.
I guess that's about all for now.