Mourn With Those Who Mourn
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. (Romans 12:15)
On the 15th of October, I was notified by (3rd Brigade Rear-Detachment Commander) that our Battalion had suffered the loss of five of our heroes from A CO 2-69 Armor.
These heroes were killed by an IED while conducting combat operations.
The next of kin of our fallen heroes have been officially notified.
The delay of this [notification] was due to awaiting the official notification of our fallen heroes families which was complete on the 21st of October.
3rd Brigade Rear Detachment will conduct a Memorial Ceremony to honor these American Heroes on Thursday the 27th of October at 1100 hours... The site is tentative. Official site location will be confirmed on the 24th of October.
I ask for your prayers for these Panther heroes and their families.
Note: Although there have been some newspaper stories of Tommy's death, I am not at this point using Tommy and Mychel's surname as the DoD has not yet officially released the name(s) of the deceased soldiers and I want to afford the families just a few more hours of anonymity... The info will come soon enough.
Noah checked in with us yesterday morning from the first airport on his four city airport odyssey to receive the body of his friend, Tommy and to escort him on his final journey home. It will be a very long two days for Noah. Longer than just hours and minutes.
We talked a little about Tommy and how the picture Noah has of him forged in his brain is of Tommy sitting behind the wheel of the Bradley grinning like a big old Cheshire Cat... Noah would gun and Tommy would drive... Noah sounded in control and resolute today -- firm in this sacred mission. He said, "I know this is a real honor, but it's so hard, Mom -- the hardest thing I have ever done." I tell him how sorry I am that he has to undertake this responsibility at 20. In my mind I ask God to make this the hardest thing he will ever have to do for the rest of his life.
I remember him telling me when he first told me that Tommy and the others had been killed, "You would really have liked him, Mom. He was just like me." He says absolutely everyone loved Tommy. He tells me that when they all went off to war, they promised each other that they would bring each other home. "This isn't how we thought it would happen, Ma." I detect such emotion in that statement that it is hard for me not to weep. I can not fathom the pain of such memories... or the love and loyalty that inspired such promises.
We talk briefly about some of the arrangements and last minute snafus and the tentative schedule for his travel, his duties, the funeral date and location, his schedule for returning to his base. At some point while we're talking, one of those random thoughts crosses my mind -- that his cousin's 16th birthday is tomorrow (today)... and can it be just four years ago that we celebrated Noah's 16th birthday and the image of him strumming his new electric guitar flashes in my head. Can it be just two since we all celecrated his high school graduation? It seems a whole lifetime has passed in these last 10 months since he and his buddies deployed... and come to this sad task for our son.
We talk, as we have over the past week, about Tommy's young widow. Noah speaks so highly of her and how hard this is for her, how shocked she is, how brave she's trying to be -- and succeeding. I have never met Mychel (pronounced Michael) personally, but my heart is so heavy for this woman and all that she must be going through, all she must absorb, the decisions she must make... She and Tommy were high school sweethearts... Tommy turned 21 while home on leave in August. Mychel will turn 19 in a few weeks. Just after she buries her husband. I can not even begin to imagine...
In an article about her husband in their home town paper that describes the wrestler with the spirit and heart of a champion and the all around All-American boy, she says, "It's no wonder he joined the military where he was proudly serving his country. He was a brave man and he was full of joy and love and he did what he did because he wanted to protect everyone... he just was very proud of the job he did... and he just had this huge heart of gold."
She is surrounded by her loving and supportive family -- and her military family. After the memorial for her husband and the other four heroes later this week, she and her family will return to their home town and together with Tommy's family will bury him close to where she will live and mourn.
And we mourn with those who mourn.
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Got a date a week from Friday with the Preacher's son.