These are a few posts from a trucking website that I used to frequent. These posts are fresh from when my son had just been KIA and not much was known and he wasn’t even home to us yet. We (well Ianyway) sometimes feel the need to return to those days. I cannot even explan the why I do or if others do as well. I feel sometimes trapped and sentenced by fate to live in those days forever. I have rewriteen these things a few times and they are probably more accurate in those posts but the raw nature of these tend to really make me think about how I have come forward and have changed and gotten on
Thank you all for the message of support for myself and family. I am going to try and update you all what has been happening for us in the last few days and the next days to come.
I got the call at work that there were defense department people at my home. I hurried home, knowing full well what I thought was going to happen. Sure enough, they were there and they gave us the worst possible news for a military or ANY family. My son had been killed that morning in combat in Iraq. The two men who were there were the utmost in professionalism and handled a job that no one in his right mind would want to do as calmly and helpfully as anyone could have. I signed the forms that they needed and then asked if they knew the details, they knew the basics, but could say nothing if anyone else was lost with my son. I was horrified at this thought. For my son there was a story, for the members of his team that Angie and I know, they could say nothing! I was so worried for his team. As soon as the officers left and we collected ourselves and thoughts I headed to the computer to try and get in touch with his team members.
The first guy to reply back was my son’s medic, he was not on the patrol, but knew the story and was so helpful to me at the moment he needed to be. No one else was hurt with the exception of scratches and such. My son had taken the full blast of the weapon. I have told people and heard this from his team that Micheal was the type of man that would have engineered this that way had he had the choice. He of course didn’t. He was just in the wrong seat at the wrong time. Driving is what he loved to do and that is where he died. The other members began to chime in and all were OK physically. The loss of my son was a huge blow to the group. There comments and letters have helped me in this dark time! My son from several people’s point of view was that of the utmost professional soldier and as the guy who could say the funniest thing at the most perfect time to light up the room and to make the guys laugh.
We soon started getting visits from people… teachers, friends and teenagers from all over the area started to appear from everywhere. Some of the most memorable was the assistant vice principal who showed up with a well preserved letter from my son, who wrote him from Ft. Benning. He could not read the letter, he could just hand it to me to read, and the poor man was just too emotional to speak much. I read the letter and it is obvious that Micheal was on the right track, he visited this teacher on almost every leave he got, talked to his students and generally impressed the hell out of him. He handled the press for us all the next day. They of course still got most of everything wrong. I emailed and got the news reports corrected.
Monday the whole community was getting the news and the school shut down almost completely and everyone went home. The vice principal again showed up as well as numerous friends and strangers. We got our first visit from the Casualty Officers (an NCO) whose job I cannot stress enough would not be wished upon anyone! He was escorted to our home by two of the local recruiters who were really not supposed to be there… they could not stay away and were both emotional wrecks! Sitting in a room with two combat vets who are on the verge of tears was tough for me. The CO offered all the starting info and then left. I had to tell the recruiters that my son’s death changed nothing between us and that they were still a part of my family.
More visits and more food than an army could eat! I lost count of the visitors, all of them emotional and all of them offered help. There really was nothing that could help and I don’t think we were eating at that point, so things stacked up till the teenagers appeared to start eliminating the growing pile of food and snacks. Lately my heart is in my throat a lot so eating just is something you have to force. Lots of emails and the daunting task of trying to gather emails and phone numbers of people who should be told. The return emails and calls are heartbreaking to say the least. The effect of my son’s death on this average community was to me surprising. There is no way to judge how many lives your kid has touched till something like this happens.
We met with the funeral director on Tuesday. Something I thought was going to be dreadful, really wasn’t. The process was smooth, but we knew what we wanted for my son before we went and we mainly sat and talked to this guy for most of the time about many things other the coming event. He was another up front guy who gained my respect.
Today, the recruiters were our first visit. They all came and they were in their dress blues. It was a bit better on the two who showed up there Monday, but still was tough on them. We are strange people! I admit that, we are not seeking out everyone and anyone to blame for my son’s death! We KNOW who and what killed him! The visit from the CO followed and he was visually upset about something. It was about one of the more upsetting forms I had to sign for reasons I’ll not go into that had him in this state. I wish this guy’s job on NO ONE! Combat has to be easier! We are informed that Pokey is in Dover and undergoing the final process before coming home to us. Another 48 hours or so and we go get him.
The escorts and color guard are in place but about double the size. The National Guard and the reservists all wanted to escort my son home! They both won and both groups will go. As well as two of the motorcycle club escort groups. We have found out that the Fred Phelps group WILL be in the area… Give me strength!
We were not going to have a visitation at first, but with all the love that this community has shown we changed that and the night before the services, there will be a visitation for anyone who wishes to show respect to my son. The next day will be the worst day in my life! The funeral approaches and I can tell you all honestly that I am afraid to go. I really need to be strong for this one and feel that I may just not be able to hold it together for this whole thing. Right now and through the whole process for me the moments of abject and complete despair and grief are fleeting and short lived… this public service I fear will be my complete emotional undoing! I am hoping for the strength to get all the way through this! From the flag draped coffin to the folding ceremony, to presentation of the flag to taps… this is going to be hell!!
Later maybe… I have not been sleeping well at all, I’ll try again.
We have found out that my son will be flown home to us on Sunday afternoon. He will have a visitation for the community Monday evening and then Tuesday afternoon at 1400 is the funeral for my son.
I want to thank everyone here again for their kind words and support. I honestly had no idea what this post would bring. Anyone one from the layover family that can make is more than welcome to attend. If you cannot attend, may I ask that at a minimum you wear a rubber band on your right wrist and if you have them… the loudest sneakers you have or can find on Tuesday.
This is the last update for my friends here of this. My son was laid to rest here today. This at this stage of my life is the both the saddest and proudest day in my life. The ceremony was something to behold and was touching in so many ways. The unit that handled this was fantastic through all of it. My son was flown home via small private charter jet here to the local airport. They had a ceremony to off load him from the plane and load him into the hearse for the trip back to the chapel. Over 200 vehicles were in the precession; most of them were from the areas Patriot Riders groups and family. I was amazed to see numerous people who turned out in weather to welcome him home and pay respects to him. The weather was something to behold also and was another gift for us as the crazy family that we are. My son came home and brought rain, tornadoes a huge thunderstorm on Sunday and a darned near blizzard of snow on Monday! We got about 3 inches of snow the night of the visitation.
The visitation was Monday evening and was as good as these things go. The funeral home had asked for photos of Pokey throughout his life. We also provided a CD with music to be played for the viewing. I picked some rather unconventional music that my son got me into. Anyone ever hear of a band called Drop Kick Murphy? I chose three songs by them to play for my son. Amazing Grace, a Cadence to Arms and the Warrior Code. They all were songs that my son and l enjoyed when he was home last. The visitors came and went all day. I was given my son’s dog tags, his Combat Infantry Badge and several gold star pins for family and friends.
Today we awoke to brilliant blue skies and warmer temps. The funeral was today at 1400. The members of the patriot guard again escorted us to the cemetery. They were all over the place and were the standard bearers for numerous flags. When we got within sight distance of the cemetery, I was extremely moved. We almost could not get into the gate! There were hundreds of people to see Pokey off and wish him well on his next journey. The ceremony was proper military fare, short and sweet. His Chaplin was a VERY short but VERY sharp fellow who was Korean. I loved having him speak over Pokey. He did a great job and added that famous Army flavor. The rest of the ceremony was full military also. The hardest parts to get through were known and expected by me. The medals that my son was awarded, the flag folding and presentation were helped in a way by the fact that this two-star general that presented each also had tears in his eyes and could barely speak to us. The 21-gun salute was there and the playing of taps was almost too much for me to bear. But we as a family “closed ranks? Held on to each other and continued to breathe.
I am very tired and now can try to start dealing with the rest of this whole thing. I want to thank everyone here for his or her concern, well wishes and thoughts.