Gold Star Dad

The thoughts of a father who has lost a son to war

Pokey’s Brothers Come Home:

Posted by fozzynok on 08/11/2009

The day that we have been waiting for has come and gone. We traveled to Ft Campbell to welcome my son’s unit home and to personally meet and thank these fine men who my son shared this experience with. Almost 100% of the unit is home. The upper echelon command folks and a security detail of a few troops are still over there waiting to rotate out and one of them is my son’s best friend.

There were going to be two planes that we had to be there for, one on Thursday and the other on Friday. We got to the airfield and met with some of the family who we met on our last visit to Campbell. The time of arrival for the plane was announced in 15-minute intervals. The last few minutes were announced and we moved outside of the hanger to see the plane land. I was pretty nervous to be honest. I found that one of the toughest parts of this whole thing was actually watching the huge 747 come into view on the horizon, land and taxi to the gate. Seeing the troops coming off the plane was actually a huge relief for me. My son obviously was not going to come off the plane but his spirit came off the plane home with all of them. We are very thankful that all of them got home safe and sound. I’d love to think that my son was watching over them all to make this happen.

The troops assembled outside the hangar as we all moved back inside to load up in the bleachers there. There were probably double the number of well wishers than troops and that made me feel pretty good that even though these guys came home early, loved ones were able to muster there to greet them. The marched into the hangar in a large formation and after a few words were spoken; the formation was dismissed to spend a few moments with their families. I hanged back in the bleachers to allow these fine men and women’s families’ unfettered access to them. I did not want to be in the way or even really be seen by these families. I kind of just tried to stay in the background with our escort. The men of my son’s platoon sought out my wife and they got a lot of hugs and pictures and the emotional weights on both sides seem to have been lifted from both parties.

The first flight and the majority of my son’s unit were home, we had to do this all again the next evening, but it was with a lot less apprehension for me. We met with some of the guys in a hotel lobby with their family and had some real great conversations and of course a few of them indulged in some adult beverages. We were getting pretty loud and a rather large gentleman appeared and announced something about being a federal marshal, we thought that we were all busted for being to loud.. in reality, the federal marshal just wanted to welcome everyone of the guys home and buy a round of drinks. I thought it quite nice that these young men brought my youngest over and bought him a shot too.. it was a shot of cola.. but they included him just the same. He will never forget this. The evening ended as we poured a coupled of the guys into a taxi back to Campbell and we went back to our own hotel. These men brought back so many memories of my own old days as a young infantryman. There are always the guys who drink too much and there are always a couple of soldiers who do not drink much or at all to run interference for those who do. It was nice to see that some things never change.

The flight the next evening was very similar with the all of the same going on. There was a bit of a difference as there was one man on the plane who had a special story for us. I met my son’s 1st SGT. He was with my son seconds after the blast and held his hand during all of the activities of the fine medic to stabilize him and stayed with him until the put him into the medivac chopper. He told me that my son gave him that same silly smile as they put him on the bird. This man was obviously hurting and I talked with him and we came to an understanding that these men did everything they could do and that my son died doing exactly what he wanted to do and he was among the finest men and finest friends that he would every have the honor of knowing. I had a few conversations with some of my son’s closest friends. I only hope that we all gained a little more understanding and peace over the subject. I know that these men are all affected by my son’s life and untimely death. I only hope that they realize that there is really absolutely nothing that they could have done to stop this, there is no ill will or blame on our parts towards anyone but the assholes who set up the attack. We all have lost Micheal, but there is no sense in trying to kick the lid off of the “what if” bucket and torture ourselves with that. I know that these are the finest men in the planet and all of them did what they could.

We all need to remember that we need to live and live well and that while a piece of us all died with Micheal.. there is no sense in continuing to torture ourselves to the point where we stop living. Micheal would never have wanted that, we all need to take Micheal with us through the rest of our lives and live for him. There are days were I feel him with me and that’s got to be enough for now. Stop thinking or dwelling of how he died, remember how my son lived.. there are a hell of a lot better stories in that category! That kid just wasn’t right sometimes.

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