Deaths In Our Family
And while the four deaths were hard and we were truthfully saddened, the soldiers were not from my son’s Brigade Combat Team (BCT) or his battalion or his company or his platoon. Four steps removed. And then, to try and find one more measure of reassurance – clawing for every extra shred of peace of mind, we consulted the map of Iraq and determined that the attacks occurred many miles from our son’s FOB. It wasn’t him. It wasn’t “us”. We still hurt. We still worried. But there is an uncontrollable need to isolate – to insulate – your soldier and, thereby yourself, from that imminent danger. You mutter, “There, but for the grace of God…”
That changed first thing this morning. We received another email from the brigade’s FRG. This one informed us that a non‑commissioned officer (NCO) had been killed by an IED… He was from our son's division… his brigade… his brigade combat team… his battalion… in the town where his FOB is located! Not from his company, but a sister company…
But our son drives for or rides with the NCOs all the time... I was overwhelmed by waves of emotions, starting after my initial audible gasp when I saw the unit designation. My eyes and my thoughts jumped around like ricochets and my heart raced. Then I saw the name… the family had been notified… no one had been at my door, so it was not my son… not my “adopted” sons either. Do I know him? No the name’s not familiar. I mentally wailed in relief, and was immediately repulsed by a wave of guilt when realization dawned on what I had just thought! I had been holding my breath and exhaled.
Later in the day, I told a high school friend, “Of course, you know in your mind that this is war and soldiers die, OTHER soldiers, not YOUR soldiers. It was just too close to home. Deployed just 30 days and less than 2 weeks in the box. This sucks.” My friend, a Vietnam vet, replied, “Yes this one was too close to home. Time to ramp up the prayers a notch or two.” Or three.
“Lord, hold our troops in your loving hands. Protect them as they protect us. Bless them and their families for the selfless acts they perform for us in our time of need. I ask this in the name of our merciful and caring God.”