Gold Star Dad

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

Valhalla .. Dare not mourn for your dead.

Posted by fozzynok on 05/15/2016

It’s May, cursed, wretched May. Like the other numerous and dreaded times, days and months of the year. I get that I am viewed as angry and reactive sometimes. I get that some people mean well, I get that other damaged people have their own physical and mental weight to bear. But words mean things and even well-meaning people say some of the dumbest and hurtful things when trying to deflect or protect their own version of things.

Most of the time and most of the year I do well enough to bit my tongue and deal with the things that I hear and see from people. Other times, when the wounds are open and the nerves are raw, I just retort and want someone to retract or at least acknowledge that what they say or do (while important or comforting to them) is damaging and harmful to others who may or not be in the same level of peace or tranquility in their lives.

From right after Micheal was killed, I became well aware of what was to come. I was fully prepared for the onslaught of those opposed to me, I was well prepared for the attacks from the same. I was well prepared for the political and philosophical attacks on me using my son’s death as the weapon to inflict the wounds that so many people were waiting for their chance to inflict.   I was of course never fully prepared for every incident or well-meaning person who says or posts things that in their state of mind or state of blissful ignorance wounds just as deeply as those who have revenge in their minds.

From people who send religious based posts about how much better Micheal’s existence is now that he is dead. The patriotically themed flag draped coffin photos and the pictures of the private mourning moments of relatives saying their last good byes and hoping in the recesses in their minds that this is all some mistake. The politically motivated posts from people on both sides who are just SURE that I am either now anti-war or pro left or right and need to see some meme or story of someone bashing the current or previous president or administration in some way to make sure I vote the right bastards out.

Today another young man who has seen more hell on this earth that should be required of anyone posted a video of some of the experiences of his war… HIS war..  The faces, the places, the memories, the fallen, the living, those who are still over there in that hell… and STILL someone comes on to dress the guy down. When remembering the fallen it’s a personal choice of the individual to do what they want to do and need to do at that time. PERIOD!

The “He is in a better place” crowd just needs to shut the fuck up sometimes! There IS a place and a time for everything and building some place in some mythological land where those killed in combat are all sitting around a big table are well and good in the proper place and time. When the wounds are open and the memories are being shared by friends and family who lost the people they are remembering.. How about you step the fuck back and just let it be?. Just shut the hell up for a little while! Sit on your hands and do not make a post that will make you seem like a well-meaning but heartless idiot.

There are times we can smile and pretend that your comments are well-meaning and there are times when we are silently screaming in our own heads for you to just shut up with that shit. I don’t care that you think my son or your bros are “in a better place” with gods and other warriors.. For the better part of his life, his time was with us, and we are allowed the god damned privilege to mourn them. Is it selfish? Yeah… I guess it is. Do I give a shit if that fucks up your narrative? No.

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One of those days. This is what this blog is for

Posted by fozzynok on 08/07/2015

I started this blog a long time ago. I described why back then and its true still today. Today started off bad.. it was normal for a Friday.. then as I left town, I looked at both wrists and realized that I had left my “jewelry” at the house. My son’s memorial bracelet was sitting on my nightstand at home. I have grown so accustomed to it always being there, that I simply got caught not paying attention. Throughout the day there were “things” that dug into me. I found out that today is Purple Heart Day. That started a roller coaster of emotions when I read the comments on the page that I was on. I was pretty upset, but its the upset that is there when I realize that even well meaning people do not walk the the shoes that I walk in.

I have no idea how long that Purple Heart day has been observed, but as usual the posts were mostly about having a “happy purple heart day”. It just ground on me a bit. I shouldn’t have but responded with; ” Just like Memorial Day, there are no “Happy” Purple Heart Days. I could be wrong, and as it relates to some people’s “Happy Alive day”, I guess I’m just being too sensitive. It makes me feel like an asshole when I can no longer feel good about “homecoming videos” and every advertiser in the world using veteran homecoming in every commercial they can. Guilty as charged. I am sometimes a bit jealous of them, and sometimes it just flat out hurts.

Today also I had a picture hit my Facebook timeline that again really hit me hard.. I am so honored and appreciative that no one else was killed or badly wounded when my son was KIA. Today one of the men who was in the vehicle that day posted a picture of himself and a nurse apparently after the EFP attack, being released from the Baghdad ER. Some days it feels like things happen when I do not keep my bracelet or the dog tags on my person. I understand that its silly and a bit superstitious.. but it is what it is.

To all of those who have bleed for me to earn this medal. I salute you.

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Happy Birthday wherever today finds you.

Posted by fozzynok on 05/17/2015

Pokey pinwheels

Today would have been your 27th birthday. I am not sure how things go in Valhalla where you deserve to be with all of those who rose to the challenge of saving a world which doesn’t deserve you or those like you. We small group of people who knew you, loved you, lived with you and were and will always be affected by your untimely departure will always have a hole inside them which cannot be filled.  Today we remember who you were for your whole life, we miss and mourn the things that we cannot share with you and the things that you cannot share with us. We have our bad days and we have some OK days, but every day, you should know that you are missed and will until we can hopefully meet again.

I still look for you in my dreams when I’m not stuck in this world and can break away from all the chaff, noise and diversions that take my mind away from me. Those times are few and far between but I do break free occasionally and search for you. There is nothing more which I would like to do than find you again and get another hug… the last one was too short. I know you are out there somewhere, doing what you do best. Keep up the good work.

Happy Birthday Son.

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Posted by fozzynok on 02/23/2015


Tonight is February 23, 2015. At this moment 7 years ago, I was a whole man, a whole person, belonging to a whole family. In a few short hours 7 years ago, the world for me changed. I will probably skirt on some of the ways that we as a family were affected but that is not really even possible. I am just shooting from the hip with this tonight and I may by the end of this post, be a little less than sober.  We all knew a different Micheal, we all shared the same Micheal and we all lost our Micheal.

This is how I live my life it seems and it will probably be this way until I too am gone from the planet. We grow up as humans evolving and choosing who we want to be or who we strive to be. All I ever wanted to be was a family man who raised his kids to be good people. I never planned on raising astronauts or world leaders. I just wanted to raise kids who were good humans who would live, love, laugh and who in turn would raise more good humans to do the same.

When we are handed out sons and daughters mere moments of them taking their first breaths We are at a bit of a loss for sure. We are worried about our wives, but we have been offered a golden moment that should be taken, cherished and never really disclosed to anyone. It is the first talk with a human who you have had a part in bringing to the world. This is a stellar moment that I selfishly took for myself and for my children. Every one of the four! I was handed a fresh, wonderful smelling new human who had no vices, no hatred, a clean slate. I can still smell the smell of the new life..

I took this little stolen moment to do my best to tell them about who I was and what my promises to them were and would always be. I did my best to live up to my word, but the unforgivable and damnable truth is that there is evil in the world and not all humans are born to be cherished, to be loved and to be human. This is a fact that has been a bane to humanity forever and will probably be what ends the species. I made promises to Micheal as he looked into me. I will forever feel that I betrayed him in some way. The promises I made to him, I had no business making.  In a few hours, I get to feel again the exact moment, that those promises became a lie.

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Tis the Season.. again..

Posted by fozzynok on 12/20/2014

Pokey and Me..

Pokey and Me..

It’s that time of year again boys and girls.. the season has really become something for me that points out most of the bad things about society and our species than good.. I find myself hunkering down and just burying myself in work (my line of work that’s almost normal) and just working through this without trying to notice the forced insanity that this season represents.

I bring this up for a good reason, I am in time warp mode during this and various times of the year.. but one thing that I will ALWAYS take care to stop and notice is my combat sons….. Please make sure that your combat sons are OK right now.. check in on them, message them. call them.. just make sure that they know there is someone out there… it’s my responsibility to them.

A lot of us have lived a lot more life than these folks.. I have not walked in their shoes as it relates to the hell that was and is war.. What I have walked through is every sort of loss and turmoil that life can bring.. I can be there as a voice of a person who lived through that shit… births, deaths, betrayals, job loss, doing dumb things,, I want all these folks to know that when they hit one of these periods of life, that it isn’t permanent, but it is very painful.. pain is real, pain ebbs, scars form.. scars are a reminder of living through these times…

I leave this message for my boys: “Hang in there combat sons.. I sure wish there was a magic switch to make all the rest of your lives perfect as I fully believe you guys deserve to live the rest of your lives in peace… but it never works that way as you still have to deal with humans.. and humans by and large suck.. people don’t care, people betray and there is no greater pain than when friends and loved ones betray you.. I have lived through that and then some.. I wish I had some snappy answers.. but I really don’t. There are no options other than to make them live with their choice and drop them from your lives and drive on without them… There are no “mistakes”… there are only choices”

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My life thus far.. and the loss of another one of my closest friends on this earth

Posted by fozzynok on 10/05/2014

Mallory with Cookie

Well its been a pretty whirlwind tour of try, fail and getting my teeth kicked in. So much for the old man in the sea. I worked out in California for a few months and it became glaringly apparent that there was no way things would work out unless I put every single chip on the table and doubled down on everyone’s future. If I were some single man with no cares and responsibility, I would have tossed the dice. Too much to lose, to many people would have to take the gamble with me and that is just not far to anyone.

So after four months of living with one of the best friends a man could possibly have, I had to admit to myself that it was all for naught, took my pride and just went back to a place that I have no allegiance to, a place that holds practically nothing that is good for me. A place that I refuse to be buried, a place that I would have never chosen to die in and a place I flat out refuse to be buried in.. So anyone who reads this.. if you hear of my passing for some reason.. I’ve told more that a few people where I’m wanting to wind up.. and at that point, I will be the old man in the sea.

I got back to Oklahoma, and it seems like everything instantly started to crater at ever increasing speed. The dryer quit working, a couple of auto calamities, personal family things, and the list went on and on. Add that to the fact that the job market here apparently is for those either under my age or over my current social status. I have never ever been without a job this long in my life. Sitting and looking out the window and at several sources for jobs is nothing that can remotely called relaxing. I have lots of people who say that I deserve a break. I wish I had that ability to relax.

The most traumatic event and this is going to sound really dumb after all the things that have happened over the years was the loss of my oldest and dearest little fur kid. It’s one of those things that you know will happen and one of those things that you accept as a pet owner. I have yet to hear from anyone who has just breezed through one of these things. This was as rough as I had imagined it, and just don’t want to have to do this again anytime soon

My wife originally acquired the little wayward dog. She was a cute little thing, a small Rat Terrier, with spots here and there and button ears and a fearless way about her. She was young just barely out of here puppy days and she like many other creatures, wandered into our lives and just decided that this was the place she wanted to be. I was against having the little dog as we were renters at the time and this was a no no. I just accepted that the four kids and the wife outranked me in this and settled in for what turned out to be a long long ride with what would become one of my cherished little items in my life. She became my dog, I never plan these things, I’m just apparently a sucker for animals.

The decision was to alter the name I had originally suggested.. I called her “Mallet head” for a few days and the family had decided that “Mallory” was a lot better to call this little pup. She was dirty and grimey and full of fleas as her owners were the type of pet owner who should of course never be allowed to own anything.. even a gold fish. She came, she stayed, and I was pretty much hers, and she was more mine than I would ever admit.

Mallory was around for almost 15 years. Years that saw little kids grow and become young adults, and then we saw my family move in other directions, she was there for the good days and she comforted me in the bad, dark days when I needed her to be there for nothing more than a little sounding board. All she required is a scratch and an pet, and some of my meals, that I of course gave way to much of. She was one of my only friends here. and I’m glad to say, I was one of hers.

Came the days where she just started showing the wear and tear of her life on her little body. She was still full of fire, but her body just couldn’t answer the call anymore. She started losing her teeth as some of the little breeds do. She started getting thin and her gait became rather spindly and uncertain,  We had started feeding her more food away from the other four legged family members, and she seemed to perk up for a few weeks. Then the morning came where I woke up and lifted her off of the bed and placed her on the floor so she could join the pack and lead them outside like always.

Instantly I noted that she wasn’t right, her left rear leg was no longer working and she could not hold herself up. She didn’t show any signs of pain, she just seemed very confused and upset. I watched her through the day, kept her wrapped up, and we called the vets.. no one could see her, so we made an appointment for the morning. This was something I knew would not be a good thing. She got worse and weaker throughout the day.

As nightfall approached, she started showing a lot of distress, she would try and get up and run and it was agonizing to watch.. I tried to comfort her and keep her in place and calm. I stayed up with her all night just wishing that she would calm down. Just before morning she stopped responding. The pain I guess was just too much for her and it was agonizing and as helpless a period of time I have probably as I had felt in a long time. I was scratched all up as she would start thrashing around trying to make herself work again, I would try and calm her and talk to her. The morning came and the clock came to the time we had to take her in.

We walked in and sat down and waited for the vet to call us back. We finally got back into an examining room, I at this point was prepared for what was coming. The vet walked into the room and his first response was sort of a sigh.. and he knew what it was and that there was really nothing to be done. I held her for a little while, but I don’t think she was really there anymore. The vet told us basically to say our goodbyes and let him know when to return.. We were asked not to stay in the room. I wish I could have done so, but she was no longer there. I couldn’t hold back the tears, it was really bad, I felt guilty over it and still do. I handed her to the vet assistant, rubbed her head one more time and we left the office. It was one of the worst days of my life.

Thank you Mallory, I love you and I will miss you until we meet on the other side of the curtain. You never failed me as many humans have and I will miss your kindness and warmth.

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Time to go back home… even though you can never go home.

Posted by fozzynok on 06/15/2014

I have not been around much to write anything nor has much come up that I felt didn’t make me look or sound ungrateful or even more depressed and out of touch than I have been seen to be. A couple of months ago, I decided that I was done pretending. Done living in a place which had only one redeeming quality… and that it was cheap to live there. That comes at a larger cost that I had ever imagined. I saw the writing on the wall at my job. The do nothings and know nothings were closing in… And I beat them to the punch, found a local job in California and resigned from the place that probably kept me alive for the last few years.

The move from the small town to the once small town I lived in in my younger years but which now is rather large has been started. I am here, working and staying with one of my old true friends… another of the few forces that has kept me willing and able to stay alive… He has pulled me out of that hole I was in and allowed me a break from the crushing forces that were probably going to kill me.  

I made the jump, packed some clothes, loaded the bike into the truck and struck out to try and go forward into some light and away from the dark life that was just something to be waited out. I have been here for a couple of months and there is most assuredly good and bad… just being here and seeing the sights, smelling the smells and hearing the voices of friends and family has made me realize that this was long overdue.

There have been moments of regret… but that is normal for me at this stage. Waiting for the trap door to open, waiting for the trap to spring while standing directly in the kill zone. I am among the living, the undamaged, the unaware… while some of that is what I have experienced forever… this is different. I am still feeling damaged, and the damage is totally invisible to those who live the normal lives of the blessed undamaged. Dates, times, sights and feeling the loss is amplified lately.

Armed Forces day, Mother’s day, Memorial Day, all of these have their own significance to me.  Being here has made this feeling of being an invisible freak more glaring. I walked around the Airbase here, this was full of memories that triggered a lot of emotions and stirred up the dark shapes all over again. The difference? The bunker was always there to run to… the place that I just left was at least safe and like some kid covering his head to escape the monster in the closet… the bunker served a purpose.

I walked around the flight line that day, feeling and seeing things that no one else could see. I was born there, visited there as a child, landed at the Travis AFB terminal when we returned from Guam… they are all there still. Travis was where we as a young family would look forward to every year on the 4th of July…  Micheal loved the place as much as I did… and it was joy filled to see his excitement and awe of the military planes and history there…

So I hope to have the family out of “there” and here to help me live life that I want to live soon. But their absence is just something that was impossible to prepare for. I miss them all very much. 


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So…. Bye…

Posted by fozzynok on 03/20/2014

It has been announced that Fred Phelps the supposed preacher leader and founder of the Westboro Baptist Church has died. How should this make me feel? Far too many people are cheering this like it means something, It means nothing. I have watched the world with different eyes as I age and learn and become more and more honest about both; humans, the world and myself. My son was killed in a war, a war that most people here in the country never even cared about and a war that was used as a political tool by some of my countrymen to change political winds to gain power.

We had the WBC saying horrible things in public about the troops.. and since I am considered by most an atheist.. what he and his minions were saying didn’t upset me in the least as its all bullshit. Even if I believed in the mythology, I certainly have never thought for one moment that even they believe the nonsense that they babble.

The babble what they do to get instant and national attention.. like some annoying commercial or some wardrobe malfunction, Americans remember very little else for as long. I have also had enough conversations with other religious people in the political party that I used to belong to that mimicked and mirrored what the WBC says down to ONE difference… they do not like the venue that the WBC uses to get their attention. They are just as repulsive, just as rhetorically violent and in fact more physically threatening that the WBC has ever been. I have heard so many people infer that gods wrath against my country is coming and for the same reasons and it comes from so many sources other than the WBC that its pathetic.

Fred Phelps and his clan have a good gimmick, and it worked every time..They collected a lot of wealth from civil trials, they have gotten rich from people reacting. They have peoples interest and they have people’s ire and they have distracted people from doing good things and enjoying their lives. I have seen the change from one of silent wall of respect from those who try to shield the families of the fallen at funerals where the WBC appears. While that remains intact to a degree, I see more of the militant hate and have seen the militants disrupt a funeral and cheer their “success” against the WBC and have patted themselves on the back for doing so… On a day where they were supposed to be honoring one of America’s fallen military sons. So while they were congratulating themselves about turning a soldiers final day with is family into some evil battleground to get their enemies.. I ask them, what makes you any less destructive to this man’s and his family’s worst day? How did you improve things?

So spare me the dance and cries of joy and victory laps over the death of one idiotic old huckster like you’ve personally gotten some victory. This changed nothing at all for me or for the fallen or even for the families of the fallen. The country is still overall, apathetic, lethargic, lazy and woefully ignorant of history… but damn they can sure get on a bandwagon and wave a flag.
The bottom line is that I cannot hope that some old asshole has been sent to the same hell that he (and others) believe that my son and several other people who they hate have and will be sent to. The threats of hell is just as useless a tool to me and the world as promises of heaven… Fred Phelps is dead.. and my life is not going to be improved or even altered by that fact.

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When the marbles fall out.

Posted by fozzynok on 01/16/2014

Not sure when I became crazy or an over emotional waste of space, but today, I lost a bit of my mind. I know that the world is full of people who are crude, rude and abrasive and for me in most and certain times I consider myself all of the above and don’t really care who thinks that of me. I have worked at never reacting to things and always responding to them. Today I reacted and it was pretty much an uncontrollable response like getting kicked in the balls.

I think everyone has sometimes wondered what certain mental issues feel like, things that the mind is certain of and the body (controlled by the mind) reacts to stimuli from the brain. I long time ago, I got to experience a real quick onset of vertigo. I had this event happen while standing on a ladder 30 feet about the ground with a crane above me that was swinging an air handler toward the stand that I was hooked to so I could guide it and secure it to the stand.. The crane was moving slowly and steadily, and was swinging the machine my way… for some reason and I still do not know what did it… I got hit with vertigo. The machine stopped moving (in my brain) and the building, the stand and the ladder started to fall down (in my mind) I felt it moving and of course I must have been one hell of sight up their grabbing and flapping around as I “fell” when I wasn’t moving anywhere.

Well, I always wondered about flashbacks… Many people who have had stresses and traumatic things happen have flashbacks. Now I know what one of those feel like and it really pissed me off!! Why? Hell! I don’t know… It beat vomiting I guess. It cost me one of the combat sons and admittedly he probably never even considered what he did as anything less than a “funny” video that was shared on the internet. To me it was something that triggered what I guess was a full blown flashback.

The term Catfishing is a new word and has to do with people on the internet who make up a character and use that character as if the person is real. They interact with people as this persona and then in the end, someone puts the people they have been conning and ooh boy! It’s supposedly a real funny moment. To me I think it’s one of the dumber, jackass activities that people now love to play, lying and misrepresenting yourself to others and then making them look foolish is funny to some people.

Well today I was caught up and cruising Facebook for odd things that friends have posted and came across a video on one of the combat kid’s pages… Not thinking that this is anything completely horrible, I opened the link and made it about 30 seconds into it before I had the flashback occur. This was not even a real “catfishing” incident. This was a spoof of a catfishing incident which made it worse and more to cause me to melt down.

All I got to was the military uniforms and a folded flag and the “funny” part was that the catfisher was spoofing a soldier somewhere and the notification team was sent to them… Funny? I honestly for the life of me do not know HOW this could be seen as funny to anyone, let alone military people whose friends and brothers have been sent home to their families. I understand that these men have been through a ton of shit, I understand that lots of professions get “gallows humor” as a defense against the realities. I wasn’t ready for that and it hurt me deeper than anyone would have guessed. Some other person was on the page and what set me off was some comment directed toward me as being the fake insulted person…

Yeah, the flashback was fake… the instant I realized what the video was about… instantly I was in my front yard and they were there.. The wailing, the burning the white sounds,the confused and broken family the realization that my son was dead and there was not getting out of it at that point. The exit of the two uniformed men, My daughter driving up with her friends and getting the news from my wife, I guess I just don’t get the humor linked to this in any way.  I guess this is where I join the group that gets told that being offended is some sort of personal weakness… Well, some things should be off limits and some things just aren’t funny. I guess it was more WHO was posting this vile thing and not what. 

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Gold Stars and Empty Chairs.. Season’s Greetings

Posted by fozzynok on 12/24/2013


Season’s Greetings to all those currently down range and all those who have spent time down range with our sons and daughters when they were their combat brothers and sisters. Tonight is Christmas Eve. Tonight my adopted combat sons are preparing their homes and lives for the early morning chaos of their young one’s magic day.

I am glad to share in their lives and see them go on with their lives, with big grins and that never to be found elsewhere humor and camaraderie that they will forever share with each other from wherever their travels take them in life.

To my fellow Gold Star Families and to their brothers who feel their loss tonight and forever, try to set aside some time to shut your brain off for a few moments and allow yourself some moments of peace in these next few days. It used to be a great time in our lives.. and it can again to some degree. It must as I know that my son would not want me to suffer forever over his passing.

The pictures we have are never enough, and you’ll see the same ones from time to time, but you folks cannot see in my mind and remember all of the things that I have seen over the years with Micheal. I also cannot see what he was doing over there with his brothers, I have seen some videos and they still make me smile.

Hold on to your families and combat sons, and check in on as many as you can to make them realize that they are a gift that you cherish year round.. and that they are loved and they are thought of.

I wish that the new year brings you all health, wealth and happiness in your lives and peace.. from time to time.

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