Like the title says, that was indeed the hardest thing I have ever had to do- and I went to war 3 times for crying out loud. That being said, I learned much about myself that day. There was no shame or wanting to get out of doing it. It was my job and, to this day, I still consider it an honor. The men and women I served with, and those I never knew, deserve my undying respect.
Walking up to that house, at dinner no less with the entire family gathered, in my dress uniform with the chaplain at my side was surreal. Sure, I’ve seen the movies where a cabbie drops a letter off, or some random officer gets out of the car and the mother collapses. Never did I imagine that would be. I was briefed before hand on what not to say. I wasn’t supposed to tell how the soldier died, only the day and location. Naturally the father’s first question was how’d he get it? I couldn’t help it. He deserved to know. So I cleared my throat and said, it was a roadside bomb, sir. The report said it was instant.
He took solace from that. Knowing that his son didn’t suffer. This may seem like a sad story, but it is one that has helped me become a better person. I try to implement that in my writings, always seeking to come up with something new, better. Whether I succeed or not is up to you to say, not me. If you would like to learn a little more of what the early years of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were really like, and from a soldier’s point of view- not some fancy general who didn’t actually do any fighting, I invite you to check out my memoirs: A Long Way From Home. Anyone who has ever been or, especially, the loved ones we left behind, should appreciate the words. Enjoy. Read on, my friends.