by Jeff Hendershott
Some people come to a conclusion somewhere in life that life itself is one big "joke." They don't take themselves too seriously, like to laugh a lot, and are typically the sort of people others like to be around.
The world lost one such person Tuesday, March 20, 2007, in John "Moxie" Augustine, Surgeon, 64th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, Retired.
It was my honor to be in the same Civil War reenactment group with Moxie. He joined in 1994 as a private, but for health reasons that forced him to quit his profession as a fire fighter, he decided to be our surgeon, and was a damn good one at that. Moxie wanted to reenact, and he didn't let his health condition prevent him from doing so.
And as a former fire fighter and paramedic - a profession he continued after disability as a dispatcher and trainer, he was a good man to have around just in case. Moxie, like in every other endeavor he undertook, knew his stuff!
But I have to admit, when I first met him, I was asking myself, "who the hell is this?" Not that I didn't like him, but he was such a unique character, he had to grow on you. Lots of people didn't like him, but I grew fond of him quickly.
Moxie's signature trait was his laugh. It didn't matter what he was laughing about, but if you didn't break out laughing along with him because of his loud "HA HA HA HA," chances are that you didn't have a sense of humor or took yourself too seriously. The guy was just a blast to be around and many were the time I'd turn blue laughing alongside Moxie.
And he knew his stuff, like I said. No, he wasn't a bloward in the typical chatterbox sense. But given his wide range of background, military life, work experience, and life in general, Moxie wasn't what you'd call "brilliant," but could certainly hold his own in just about any conversation. That is until the "HA HA HA HA" inevitably came along.
One particular instance that stands out when he described to us how cows are emasculated (yea, we reenactors had too much time on our hands on many occasion). He had the whole group of us rolling on the ground simply by the way he told it and his ever-present laugh. That story popped up in our unit for years afterward.
Moxie liked giving out nicknames, and yours truly was known as Pvt.Cottoncrotch, after Moxie noticed that the crotch in my Union blue pants was so blown out, I had to patch it several times.
Before I got out of the hobby, I decided to become a hospital steward and work alongside Moxie and our nurse. It was a lot of fun because Moxie made it such, and his sense of humor didn't diminish his knowledge of Civil War medicine one bit. The crowd always got a "show" with Surgeon Moxie.
I could rattle on forever about the exploits of one of the most colorful characters I've even known personally and in the hobby. But what I've taken away from being with him is this: Serve your fellow man and laugh at life. No, Moxie didn't "preach" that code, never, ever! He LIVED it. Some it rubbed off on, some it didn't.
I'm glad to say I'm one person who was lucky enough know him and learn from him.
See ya', Mox!