Paul Gomez 1971 – 2012
“The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.” —Ernest Hemingway
Trainer Paul Gomez recently passed from this world unexpectedly and far too soon. Paul was well known in the training community for his top-notch courses and involvement with many other premiere schools and trainers. His loss is a palpable blow to our community. The Facebook pages of associates, profiles of friends, and forums where Paul was known have brimmed over with fond reminiscence, great stories, and awesome photos of Paul, attesting to both how respected, and cared for, he was by students, colleagues, and friends. We are all saddened, and will be saddened again each time we turn toward the familiar, only to find the space hollow and lacking.
I associated with Gomez for nearly ten years, through the internet community, in passing at first and then personally via email and on the phone. I don’t think I realized, until now, how much influence the association and distanced friendship had on me, in everything from my pistol work to medical practices to my taste in music, film, literature and ugly shirts. It occurs to me now that there are few days in which I don’t do something, read something, listen to something or otherwise act on or based in something I learned from Paul Gomez. From the Leather Arsenal IWB my pistol rides in, to the Hawaiian shirt on my back, to the Cowboy Junkies on my iPod. It will always be a regret of mine that I never met Gomez face-to-face, and never had the opportunity to train with him. The assumption that the opportunity would come was always there, and now, that assumption is wrong. I have true sorrow at that.
I didn’t talk with him enough, I am terrible at keeping up with people, but I truly enjoyed and always learned from the (too short) hours spent on the phone, and the email exchanges on everything from bowie knives to sporks. Gomez was a customer, before I’d really hung up a shingle, and I am still proud that something I worked on found a place in his tools. I benefited from his work, writing and friendship, and felt honored by his counsels. Shortly after the first Self Care in the Tactical Environment class, Gomez called to ask how it went, and we talked shop about teaching medical skills, and he passed on some excellent ideas and advice – There was no competition, not an iota of the proprietary bullshit “I teach this genre of class, I’m the best at it, I’ll share nothing” attitudes that infect this community, simply interest and helpful enthusiasm for the work of putting high value medical skills into shooters minds and hands.
Gomez’ dedication to refining and delivering valuable, life-saving, information was immense, and the amount of time he spent giving freely is incalculable. Paul was happy simply learning and sharing knowledge. Sharing some time with him was to know that infectious joy of talking shop, and seeking answers. I remember Paul taking the time to photocopy this article or that book, and mail the pages, even loaning me a few books (that I returned woefully late, though with nary a snarky word from Paul about it) from the shortest spark of conversation.
Through various internet forums, in particular Total Protection Interactive, and most recently via Facebook and his YouTube channel, Paul put a remarkable amount of knowledge out there for anyone willing to receive it and do the work to make good on it. That knowledge is still there for the benefit of anyone who takes that time. I can think of no greater way to remember the man, than to make the best use we can of what he left behind.
I’m going to miss Paul. We all will. We’re poorer for his loss, and are truly diminished across many fronts. The loss to the firearms, tactical and personal protection training community is enormous, and obvious. More the communities he participated in and the days of friends will be a little dimmer without his humor, extensive historical and cultural knowledge (earning him the moniker of Encyclopedia Paul-itanica) , travel observations and truly excellent taste in music helping round things out. I can only imagine the loss to those who knew him personally, and were close to him. My thoughts, and the thoughts of everyone here, are with his family, children and loved ones.
Vaya con Gnome, sir. Thank you for it all