Uncle Chris: Coast Guard Veteran and Family Member

My Uncle Chris was a great guy who fought his hardest


Debra L. Nesbitt

Uncle Chris plays Clash Royale with his stepson (left), and my brother, Kevin (right).

Kieran Howsare, Reporter

Growing up in Florida, I was always close to my Uncle Chris. He was there for everyone through thick and thin. He was the type of guy to always brighten up the mood whenever he walked into the room. He knew how to make you laugh or to just make you smile with the things he said. He cared for everyone and everyone cared for him, but even when we all thought he was going to be here, that wasn’t the case.

Born in Dunedin, Fla. on June 13, 1980, he was a preemie that fought just to take his first breaths. He spent his youth fishing, playing baseball and skateboarding. He was a total ’90s kid. He loved rap and country music and never missed an island party with his friends. By the age of 19 he had enlisted in the Coast Guard. He went to basic training at Cape May, N.J. and graduated in February 2002. After basic training, he came back to Florida and got married. He moved with his wife and young daughter to Biloxi, Miss., where he was stationed. Sometime in 2003 he came back to Florida for additional training and during that time he was involved in a car accident. That car accident would be the beginning of the end for him.

My mom holds my uncle’s hand in the hospital while he was on life support. (Debra L. Nesbitt)

The injuries he sustained in the car accident would lead to him being discharged from the Coast Guard in 2005. He got divorced soon after he returned to Florida, and while he lost his wife and eventually his now two daughters, he would gain something – an addiction to painkillers.

My Uncle Chris was an amazing uncle, great big brother to my mom, a veteran, a father, and an addict. He fought hard for his sobriety and in the summer of 2017 he came to live with me, my brother, my father and my mom. Our days with him were filled with laughter. Whether it was teaching my little brother to ride a bike, or making movies with us and the neighborhood kids, he always made us feel special. He taught us how to tie a hook and catch our first fish on Dunedin Beach, the same beach he fished at with my mom as kids.

My family and I left Florida at the beginning of 2019, and Uncle Chris moved in with his girlfriend in Florida. He had been sober at that point for just over two years. He came to visit us in the summer of 2019, that would be the last time he would take us fishing. Between 2019 and 2021, he bought a house with his girlfriend and he even got his dream truck, a Ford F-150. Things were looking up for him.

Sept. 27, 2021, a day I would rather forget but know I never will. I was in the car with my mom and little brother when my grandma called. I knew instantly from my mom’s reaction that something was very wrong. I knew at that moment my life would never be the same. My larger than life Uncle Chris was found unresponsive at home. He was rushed to the hospital and placed on life support. My mom flew down to be with him on Sept. 29 and he remained on life support until Oct. 1.

At 9:03 p.m. he was wheeled into surgery to donate his heart, kidneys and liver. Even in death he was making a difference. My uncle lost his battle that day with his demons. He fought hard. I will love him forever and miss him twice as long.