Gold Star Dad

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

Posts Tagged ‘Gold Star Families’

It’s that time of year again.. time to walk the path.

Posted by fozzynok on 02/21/2012

MRAP
Late February is upon us again. It has been four years now. That sounds like a long long time really. And it is. Open painful wounds have healed and calloused and are just big invisible scars to the outside world. The problem with these unseen wounds are that they will never be gone, never be truly healed for us. I speak for myself of course, but I could never believe that there are parents and families on the path that ever heal these wounds that we carry inside of us.

The years have gone by.. the sheer burning almost minute by minute agony that was is now a fleeting and sometimes ambush occurrences that hit out of the dark or out of left field. They come and they go, but one thing is different about this time of year. Like certain types of ghosts I walk the same paths and live those days almost minute by minute and feel and remember the events and times of the “before days” when life was open ended and life revolved around monitoring internet messengers and cell phones constantly to hear from the son far away. I feel the emotions of the moment I found out, the drive home, signing the forms, the wait from news from Dover, the ride to the hangar, the whole gut wrenching period

My wife posted something yesterday about today being the last time that she got to talk to my son. It kind of reinforced things that while we are all different humans trapped in cages, the cages are not all that different or maybe even of the same manufacturer. Her post reminded me that this was also about the last time I got to talk to Micheal on the computer. He would pop on when I was at work (I’m always at work) and we’d touch base and talk about everything or nothing.

The last conversation with Micheal was probably the toughest for me and the toughest for me to get over. Micheal and I would talk about our common likes of history and the military. He being in the environment that he was, he could relate the realities that I never had to see an Infantryman and I could try and relate and explain things in the view of history that he could draw upon for some answers. He told me that with the people he was with and what they were doing, that he really didn’t mind any of it and he was not afraid of the job that he and his brothers were doing.

It made me feel good that he felt secure enough to tell me that he was OK with what he was doing and that he was OK. The however he did however bring up and confide in me the reality that he was afraid of the IED’s. I told him that everyone probably felt the same way and that I understood and of course that he was completely justified in being afraid of the damn things. I reminded him of the documentary we watch about the American air crews in Europe during WW2. They were perfectly willing to do battle with the fighters because they were flown by men.. it was a real fight between another man. What they hated and fear was the anti-aircraft or flak. There was no defense and there was no one to fight. There was just nothing to do but face the fear and do your job.

That was the last discussion we had. Me trying to relate to a son thousands of miles away, that it was OK to be afraid of something like that and then coming to the realization a couple of days later that what your son feared the most and what he went out and faced so damn bravely.. took him away from us. I never try to sugar coat things for people, and my children are no different. I hate sometimes that the truth has to be told and that I had to have a discussion with a son so far away and tell him that there was nothing that could be done but face the dangers. I could not and did not tell him that everything would be OK… because I and he really understood that there were no guarantees.

I love you and miss you Micheal..

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The miltary “supporters” and the bandwagon

Posted by fozzynok on 02/15/2012

This has been bothering me for a few days now and it is sure not seeming to get any better as the shrillness of the (supposed) military supporters gets louder and higher pitched. Whitney Houston died last week and almost instantly, some of the flag slathered part-time military supporters started their “support” of the military by publicly trashing this woman at lengths and in ways that would make the Westboro Baptist Church proud! Does this make themselves feel better and more righteous that their political enemies? Do they think that this makes the families of the fallen feel better?

I have been bombarded by people on social media doing things and sharing images that have they have always supposedly been against. I have seen more flag draped coffins used in anti-Whitney Houston rants in the last few days that I have ever cared to see. The used of the fallen in this way disgusts me at a level that is almost indescribable. You do not have the right to use images of the fallen as a political statement or in some half-witted attempt to show your fellow half assed faux patriots in some sort of patriot contest!

I was going to post the images that I have been receiving from some of you well-meaning well intentioned people, but why should I post images that I find completely disgusting.. lots of you probably already have some of them as your screen savers so you can show others how much more supportive than the other guy.. If you ARE going to use the fallen as decoration.. at least use the picture of the anti-military protest from Santa Monica.. at least those coffins are not full of real people..and you’ll not be AS disgusting.

I will be glad when the war is over and the troops come home and these juvenile, thougtless people get off the military support bandwagon, scrape the faded bumper stickers off their cars and go back to pretending to support something else..

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The End of the War.. The continued love of hate for the masses

Posted by fozzynok on 12/19/2011

I guess it is time to go back into the personal bunker and just give up on the world in general again for a while anyway. The last few days has been a meat grinder and it’s only going to get worse as the months and next year unfold into the next national election for the President of the United States. The last combat troops have left Iraq. This opens so many emotions that have been kept away since Micheal was killed. I knew that this day would come and I KNEW that there would be the eruptions in the press and on all of the social networks as to what was and was not the Iraq war was for every single person who decides that their opinions matter more than the next guy. For most of these people they’ve never so much have lost as much as a good night’s sleep over these wars

The utter GLEE from the left and the right political factions have shown in the last few months has reached the level where I am completely ashamed of what this country and my countryman have become. The George Bush haters are back with all of their hateful discourse and they are met with the new self-proclaimed “patriots” who are waving and wrapping themselves in the American flag and of course have all of their ideas and opinions on why they are sure that the current President and Commander in Chief has lost the war and all of the losses are now all for nothing.

So I have the choice of sitting and listening to the left wing who proclaim in some of the most vitriolic nonsense that my son died for a LIE.. or now I have the right wingers declaring that we all lost or sons and daughters for nothing.. Aren’t these things basically the same sides of the coin? So they will continue on their drive to gain political advantage over their political rivals while they use our military fallen as their tool. Both sides are now equally guilty of using our fallen warriors as props and weapons to bash their rivals over the head with. My son is more than a tool or punchline to be used by these two sides. I cannot and will not try to even explain the pain that these two sides bring to those of us who have lost sons and daughters. They have nothing but their political enemies in their sites and do not care at all who they harm. My son is nothing but a number to them now.

If I have the choice of whether or not the world forgets my son or use him as a weapon in some daily political debate with the other side who uses him as the same thing.. I’d prefer that he is quickly and completely forgotten. There are a handful of people who serve this country and go off to fight for a million of their own reasons. There are a slightly larger number of people who will remember their own fallen and to hell with everyone else. I started this blog as a way to put some of my feelings and thoughts on paper for those who follow me down this trail. I hope that it does some good for people who seek something other than a cookie cutter, political damning of one side or the other.

The Holidays are upon us… I’ve given up on ever rationalizing the “Peace on Earth” – Good will To Men”. Until there are no men, will this ever be realized. Man loves death and carnage far too much for peace to ever happen and they have manufactured their gods to bless them for doing so.

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Happy Veterans Days – Respects on Remembrance Day

Posted by fozzynok on 11/11/2011

Flag

Good Morning Gold Star Parents and loved ones where ever you are today. Today we celebrate veterans past and present. We salute and celebrate the lives and the hard work of the veterans everywhere. We celebrate our son’s and daughters brothers. Today is a day of acknowledgment and celebration and reverence of those who served and continue to serve.

poppt lest we forget

Today (11.11.11) is also Remembrance Day or Armistice Day in Europe and the Commonwealth countries. I send my respects to your fallen sons and daughters and the huge toll that it took on your young men and countries. We remember your fallen with you also today.

Today is bittersweet for me.. I must celebrate the veterans while mourning my own, I do the best I can but sometimes I just fail miserably. I am so thankful for the veterans and love and respect all of those who allow me to stay in their lives. Today is full of videos and pictures of the wonderful homecomings and surprises of young men and women coming home to unsuspecting and then thrilled loved ones. I try my best to be happy for them and I am.. but I do sometimes feel ashamed that sometimes I cannot avoid feelings of envy and even jealousy of these things and no longer watch them. I can share in these peoples joy and the soldiers triumphant returns but some days are just harder than others I guess.

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Guilt, Shame or Hell?

Posted by fozzynok on 09/14/2011

I found this buried in an old file somewhere.. thought it more relevant since 9/11

Guilt, shame or hell?

The gold star represents many things to those on the outside looking in and probably depending on what stage of the process we happen to living in at that moment, many more to us. There are a lot of levels of hells in numerous theologies and philosophies. The Buddhist sect that I studied taught that there are a lot of levels of hell and there is only one person who can take you there and or get you out. That person is you. I can tell you from personal experiences that this is very true or maybe just true to me. I have been in and out of these hells my whole life and more often since losing my son. To a father an old infantryman and a man there are separate hells and shames for each.

Guilt, shame or hell?

My children have been taught that they are indeed responsible for their actions and there is no one who can be blamed for their actions good and or bad. I have strived since they were small to teach them about the world and the history of mankind. Myself the “kind” really doesn’t fit the human animal in anyway. I have been a follower of histories of man, good men, bad men all men. I have read and encouraged my kids to learn history from all points of view. To help people who are being oppressed and to hate the human animals who seem to love to hurt people. This is one of my shames and one of the hells.

Guilt, shame or hell?

I joined the military because of my desire to be ready and trained in the coming age of the latest version of the religious armies. They were on the march before I was of age, but I understood what these humans could be capable of. There have been religious armies of humans on this planet before. I was aware of this and made my children aware of this. Be sure that no man is never more happy to kill when he feels that he does so with the blessings of his chosen god. I trained and I trained hard, It never happened on my watch

Guilt, shame or hell?

I never had to put this training and desire to stop the religious animals to the test, it would have to be left to our children and our children’s children. The threats where there, the warning given, the unanswered alarm and the deaths of many humans for simply daring to be in the wrong place or simple be labeled by these religious armies as the “enemy” to their god. The world was and still is willing to accept the death of many innocent people when it is they who are not forced to live in the crosshairs. Those in power appeased and the ignorant masses slept and played and went on like there were no cares in the world.

Guilt, shame or hell?

The attacks of 9/11 made the world wake up, some people in the world decided that they could accept this as long as it meant that they were not going to be inconvenienced or have to maybe face the awful truth that there were literally millions of humans who were willing to do the same exact thing to other people who have done nothing but refused to accept their version of their god or have supported others who have survived in spite of their never ending desire to kill them off. Not only would these people kill you, they would be hailed as gods themselves for doing so. Millions of them are out there,, and they are not going to stop. These people are the new Crusaders and they have the same vision of what they think their god wants…
Guilt, shame or hell?

The President made the case for the final end to the government of Iraq. I supported this but in the pit of my stomach, I knew what was in store and I knew the risks. I also knew that my sons and even my daughter would be the ones who would have to answer this call and that they would be damned for doing so! My generation failed my children and left them to do what needed to be done. The fact that the world fought so hard to protect the people who are in the business of spreading death and are proud and happy to do so made me ill and still does to this day. Where is the common sense? Where is the desire to free the oppressed? All of these are old fashioned and some could mention archaic to describe the desire to kill the evil humans to save those who may have a chance to turn out to love life and their children’s lives and futures over some theory of a benevolent loving god. When these people who slaughter innocent men women and children mention utter the word god, does anyone actually feel Gods love?

Guilt, shame or hell?

I was proud of my son. He had volunteered to go into the Infantry when he could have done anything else that he wanted. He WANTED to go to the infantry because that is where ultimately the buck stops. He left for Ft. Benning as I had, humped the same trails, sweat puddles on the same ground as I and my brothers had so many years ago. He smelled the same smells, learned the same lessons and turned blue with some of the bravest men that we will ever have the honor of producing. I turned my son blue and welcomed him into the fraternity that so many have before us joined through blood, sweat and learning to trust men like us. The shame for me that unlike me in my time, these fine young men knew where they were headed and stood tall in the glare of all the negatives that the pop culture could deal out. These were not draftees.. these young men joined for all of the old fashioned reasons that men have since men started to walk upright. There was evil and they were needed!

Guilt, shame or hell?

I watched my son grow into a real soldier. He was well respected by his own peers and by his leaders and he was a real apprentice at the craft of warfare. He was as ready as he would ever be. I spent the weekend with him before he shipped out, we talked and nervously readied ourselves for the next phase. I dropped my son off at his barracks and hugged the hell out of him.. even though he pretended that he didn’t want to. I want to hug him longer and stay there for a few more minutes..

Guilt, shame or hell?
The months of combat made my son even better at what he had gone off to do. He and his brothers fought the good fight and never lost sight of each other. We talked about things he did. I of course shamefully had only training and knowledge from history to offer to my son. He was talking to me about things and something just needed to hear from us. He had to know that home was still here and that we were ok. We talked about IED’s and my son was honestly afraid of them. I told him that he had all the right in the world to fear something like that. I related them to Flak in the Air war in WW2. Flak was something that was feared and hated by the airmen because there was no way to fight it, it was there and it could take your life instantly. On February 24 of 2008. this horror became a reality. Less than 48 hours after having this discussion with my son, his biggest fear over there took his life. Did I minimize it too much? Did I not hear my son well enough? I will never know. My son has not visited me in dreams as some of my dead friends have done and still do. Shamefully I do not dream of him, he is just as gone in my dreams as he is in real life. I miss him so. I just hope that he does know how much.

I am in hell, more than I am ever in out these days and it probably won’t improve much any time soon.

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Not as far down the trail as I thought

Posted by fozzynok on 08/22/2011

This one kind of rambles. I apologize up front!

It’s been a horrible time lately for Oklahoma and the military family here. Oklahoma has turned a lot of blue stars into gold here in a real short period of time. I am very torn about these things and while I have attending a few funerals for the military families here, I had not been to an actual KIA ceremony since I lost my own son and had to go through the whole process then. I have described how surreal and how mind blurring that whole period of time was for me. These are a lot different and more personally upsetting than I had imagined.

I read that another fine young soldier Spc. Jordan Morris from the 10th mountain Division who lost his life in Afghanistan was coming home on Saturday the 13th. As the only day that I can officially get out of work is Saturdays, I wanted to go to Stillwater to show support and stand the flag line and be a presence for him and for the family. It is an obligation for the country to show their respects to these men and women and their families. More than that though… The people in this country ought to WANT to stand shoulder to shoulder with each other and show these families and their fellow citizens that the fallen sons and daughters are not taken for granted and will never be forgotten.

My wife wanted to attend this homecoming today too… this unnerved me a bit as she had also not been to any of these let alone a KIA since Micheal’s. We were both about to find out how difficult this was going to be. We arrived in town and drove around until we found the place where the ceremony was to be held and then drove to the staging area where the various motorcycle groups were forming up to take part in the escort and show their support for this young man, his family and his community. There were hundreds of people there… It made me feel good to see them there.

We all gathered for the safety briefing from the Patriot Guard (even though we were in a “cage” this trip. The briefing covered many things and it even made me feel that some of things that happened during my son’s ceremony had finally been addressed. Even though it was like some horrible movie that day we had my son’s ceremony some things really stood out to me that day that angered and frustrated me to no end… what are you going to do to address this during a funeral? Once it starts… its like gravity… you’re along for a horrible ride that you cannot get off!

The Ride Captain covered the issue of taking photos… This was one of the most upsetting things during my son’s services. Some woman in the flag line was taking pictures of my son’s coffin and of my family during the ceremony… that really was upsetting as I cannot for the life of me figure who in their right minds would want a picture like that. The other issue that was covered was about not approaching the family. That also was a good idea to me. The second that the service ended at my son’s ceremony, (we hadn’t even stood up yet) I had several people literally climbing OVER me to get to my wife… a little nerve wracking to say the least.

After the briefing we all got into our vehicles and started the precession to the place where the memorial service was to take place, the line of vehicles was as impressive as anything that I’d ever seen. We all got into the parking lot and parked and moved to the front of the building to stand the flag line. One the way, we met the soldier who escorted Spc. Morris home. He was a young PFC from the 10th mountain. My wife hugged him and talked with him and this is where I knew that this was going to be an over emotional day… We moved to the front of the building with the others and stood the flag line in a HUGE group of men and women from the various organizations that were there that day. The call went out that the family was on the way. I told my wife that I hoped that being there in this large group of people made the family feel as I did that day when we came into sight of the cemetery and saw that there were literally hundreds of people there waiting to show their respects to my son.

The family drove into the parking lot and we all came to attention and the veterans saluted and the non- vets placed their hands over their hearts and the family was escorted by and into the building. We broke down the flag line and at that moment I knew that there was absolutely no way that I could go through the actual graveside ceremony for this man. I guess that I’m not as far down the trail as I should be at this point. We left the area and headed down the main street of Stillwater and it was also an emotional event. Hundreds of people lined the streets to show their respects the soldier who volunteered to represent us all and paid the highest cost. It took me back to driving a similar route on that March Day in 2008.

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The Electronic Cage

Posted by fozzynok on 07/18/2011

Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later. The PC that I have practically lived in for the last 4 years has finally bought the farm. Complete hard drive failure of some sort. I lamented about it and knew that it was coming but really had a bit of a sinister sort of death wish as it related to the PC. All of the horrible feelings from Feb 24th 2008 where contained in that hard drive. All of the letters, emails and condolences and painful past where sitting there.. begging me to go back and read and lament and suffer over the things that others had said good and bad and all painful to read and fret over. Most of the really important things like pictures are already saved and distributed and posted for me to go and look at from time to time. Like most important things, I keep them in my soul for my own selfish consumption. I have lost an electronic record of the most painful years of my life..and to tell the absolute truth. its kind of a relief. Gone are the reminders of all the “friends” that I’ve had that have tossed their damaged “friend” away. Gone are all of the websites and places were I used to be normal.. I will just get to start over with a fresh electronic mind and move on down the road. Some will probably think me horrible to even say these things.. but that’s really nothing new. Part of the electronic cage door has been opened..

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I hope this finds you well out there.

Posted by fozzynok on 05/17/2011

I hope this finds you well somewhere out there behind the curtain. I hope that it’s a world of weather choices and bright warm days when you want them and cool foggy ocean weather to close your eyes, breathe deeply feel and taste the weather on your face when the fancy strikes for that. A place where you get to choose your age for the day and dig all the holes, laugh, play in the mud with trucks and pails and build sand castles near the surf of some white sandy beach. A place and day to visit carnivals, zoos and a prom or two. All of the things you never really go to do. A day to visit friends and A place where all of the relatives who never got to know you, get their chance and knowing and loving you at those ages when they too had to make the trip. Their chance to play with and know the little boy, the fine young man and brave solider that you grew to be. I wish all of these things for you.. and someday for us all. I miss you son but someday I know that will build the sand castles with you on the same beach. Happy Birthday Micheal. This crummy world misses you.. but it sure doesn’t deserve you.

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The evil spiteful mind.

Posted by fozzynok on 05/11/2011

Flashbacks are just a part of the new normal I guess. I took our youngest up to the school early this morning to get on a bus for a trip to the state Special Olympics track meet. This is really his first trip anywhere overnight without us. All thus week it’s been prepping for the trip, packing and buying things for the next few days. This was a little trip for a few days and the kid is going to have a ball. Met the bus at the school helped him load his things, talked a bit to the teachers, the drivers as my son milled around and helped with loading things from the classroom into the bus.

I was just dad taking his kid to the bus for a field trip. Nothing crazy, nothing really weird not even a twinge of anything out of the ordinary day. They were all really busy with getting ready to go so I figured I’d leave and head out and let them go. I called Anthony over to give him a quick hug goodbye and was instantly overwhelmed with emotion. The second we hugged, I was hugging Micheal that day long ago and putting him on the bus for Ft. Benning or the “selfish” hug I got with Micheal outside the barracks that night at Ft. Campbell as he was leaving for Iraq. The crushing and unexpected wave of anguish and I guess shame of allowing it to attack me like that at an innocent little event made me pretty angry at myself. The owner of the human mind can be just as a cruel and punishing as anyone or anything else in the world I guess. There is no escape.

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99%ers – Bin Ladin meets his fate.

Posted by fozzynok on 05/02/2011

Got the news last night about the whole Ussama thing.. I couldn’t even feel good about it. Couldn’t sleep at all. This is another 1%er issue for me. After the announcement All I see is the loss of so many good people and the gloating and flag waving by all the posers and band wagon riders who magically now come out of the woodwork to shout slogans and wave flags like they were on board the whole time. Where were they in 2003? Where were they in 2008? The answer is, no where. They were doing what they do best, watching TV and hoping that their pick will win some singing contest or that their favorite bimbo won’t get voted off the island or god forbid that Donald Trump may fire their choice for apprentice. They go eat fast food, they drink their favorite ice cold brew and they don’t give a hoot what is going on outside of their little world. Now..magically “they” have killed Bin Ladin.. They got him.. they were a part of this somehow.. Strangely though.. they did not volunteer, they did not feel the stresses of training, they did not feel the pain, they did not meet a real standard to be welcomed into a brotherhood of men who would watch their backs and trust them to watch theirs, they did not kiss their loved one’s good bye, they did not fly thousands of miles away, they did not feel the fear of any of this.. they did not have to fight, they did not have to watch or hold onto their brothers while they died, they did not have to rotate out of this or rotate back in three, four or even more times. They are still the 99%ers to me.. and they always will be. This so reminds me of the packs of idiots after some championship sports game.. without the funny commercials..Feel good waving that flag.. that’s all some of you will ever be good at.

And for the military men and women out there.. and to our Commander in Chief. Thank you and job well done.

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