Copyright 1996 by: Carrie Larson

Who do you think of when the word hero comes to mind? Maybe it is Batman or Superman, our caped crusaders. How about the Lone Ranger and his side kick Tonto as they kept the wild west free from outlaws and renegades.

A more up-to-date band of heroes would be the brave rescue workers and firemen from Oklahoma City. As we watched our t.v. screens during that tumultuous time, we literally watched as these heroic Americans ventured into the bombed out Federal Building. They did this in order to save lives even at the risk of losing their own. These are fine examples of gallant humans who have saved many lives. Whether they are fictional characters or real people, we still appreciate their efforts and applaud their accomplishments.

A hero is a person that unselfishly gives of himself in order to help others. They also do their best to make our world and universe a better place to live. This description of a hero, I believe, best describes the character that DeForest Kelley brought to life. That character is of course, Dr. Leonard McCoy.

How many times in the three year run of Star Trek did we witness Dr. McCoy offering up his own life in order to save others? In the episode Shore Leave the brave doctor is killed by a black knight as he gallantly protects Yeoman Tonia Barrows. I can sti ll remember how I felt when I watched this episode for the first time back in 1966. I thought that he was very brave and I still believe that.

On Miri's planet, Dr. McCoy must race against time to find an antidote for a mysterious illness. This illness has infected himself, the landing party, and the inhabitants of the planet. Without any regard for his own safety, our hero injects himself wi th the experimental antidote. Thankfully for all of us McCoy fans the antidote worked and everyone was cured.

I believe that Dr. McCoy's most heroic moment was in the episode The Empath. McCoy, Spock, and Captain Kirk were held prisoners by the aliens Lal and Thann. The captain was ordered by their captors to pick one of his officers to undergo a painful experi ment. This experiment would either kill or seriously injure either one of them.

Once again, our hero came through by volunteering himself for this grave torture. As you may remember, Dr. McCoy convinced Kirk and Spock by putting them out by using his trusty hypo.

After Kirk and Spock finally woke up and realized what had happened, they quickly went to rescue the doctor. Unfortunately, it was too late. When they found him, he was gravely injured. McCoy's only chance for survival was the empath Gem. McCoy refused her help, because he knew that she could die while helping him. Once a gain Dr. McCoy puts another life ahead of his own.

There are many instances in which our beloved Dr. Leonard McCoy performed heroic deeds. I could take up the whole article with such examples. I don't have to do that to prove that Dr. McCoy is a true hero in every sense of the word. No, he definitely is not a military man and he certainly couldn't run a star ship. That does not make him any less brave or courageous than Captain Kirk or Picard. Dr. McCoy's heroism comes from his strong willed nature and his compassionate heart. I believe that these human traits are the best qualities that any one person could have.

I give DeForest Kelley all of the credit for the great compassion and courage that makes up the Dr. McCoy character. He may not admit it, but he and his character are a lot alike. When we watch Star Trek and see just how Dr. McCoy genuinely cares for ev ery living being, that compassion comes from DeForest Kelley.

I remember in one of my many articles of DeForest Kelley, there was a comment in it from Leonard Nimoy. He said that DeForest Kelley was one of the most caring actors that he had worked with. Nimoy said that when anyone from the cast or crew was sick or had to go to the hospital, De was the first one to send flowers or a gift of encouragement.

One time, when De was at the hospital when his wife Carolyn was going to have surgery, he noticed a man who was also waiting to go in for surgery. De, the nice man that he is, went over and gave him a word of encouragement. De could have ignored him, especially since he was probably worried about Carolyn. He wouldn't ignor e this man, because as a heroic person, he couldn't. My son also experienced De's compassion and heroism when he had surgery on his chest last year.

Like me, my son Andy is a big DeForest Kelley fan. When it came time for Andy to go the hospital, it didn't surprise me in the least that he wanted to bring his Dr. McCoy action figure and his DeForest Kelley cowboy along with him.

Before he went into the operating room, we were told that he could bring a comforting item in with him. There was no doubt in his mind that he wanted his Dr. McCoy action figure. It was a comfort to Andy to have the best doctor in Starfleet watching ove r his surgery. Incidentally, Andy's surgeon's name was Dr. Leonard and my son thought of him as Leonard McCoy.

There were other things that happened during Andy's hospital stay that had a "De" connection. There are so many that I couldn't name them all in this article. I did however, write DeForest Kelley and told him about Andy's hospital experience and that his presence made it a lot easier for Andy and I thanked him for it.

When I wrote De, I never thought that he would respond back, but he did. He wrote my son a nice letter on his own personalized stationary. Knowing that DeForest Kelley cared enough to send my little son his best wishes was the absolute nicest thing that De could have done for Andy. Again this is just another example of De's heroic compassion.

The best example of heroism that DeForest Kelley has shown us is his nearly 51 years of marriage to his wife Carolyn. Loving your mate for all those many years and being devoted only to that person is no easy task. It requires a lot of compassion, under standing, and determination. I believe that anyone married that long deserves a medal!

If you didn't believe that DeForest Kelley was anything less than a hero before you read my article, I hope that you have come to believe it now. DeForest Kelley is my hero because of his great compassion for others and because of his caring heart. I am extremely honored to share my "De" story with you, because he is a true hero and I hope that other "De" fans will share their memories as well.