The Hardest Thing I Ever Had To Do Was Tell A Complete Stranger His Son Had Been Killed in Iraq…

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.

3 Comments on “The Hardest Thing I Ever Had To Do Was Tell A Complete Stranger His Son Had Been Killed in Iraq…

  1. My older brother had to face the mother of his best friend after the war. WWII. Hardest thing he ever had to do. He and his buddy were on a destroyer. Mail call and buddy got a package from home. My brother took his buddy’s watch on deck so he could go below and open his package. Last thing my brother said to him was, “Save me some cookies.”
    A little while later the ship was hit by a Zero, right above the ammunition storaghe part of the ship. Explosions, fires. You know the way it goes. After the fires were extinguished my brother had to go below and help bag the casualties, or what was left of them.
    He and his buddy had exchanged rings and vowed to each other if one of them died the other would take the ring to the deceased’s mother.
    He was hospitalized with what we now call PTSD for almost a year and was plagued by nightmares and guilt for many years. I doubt he ever fully recovered. It took him 4 years to be able to face his buddy’s mom. Tore him to pieces.
    I know where you are coming from.

    • Wow. I can’t even begin to imagine what it was like after that war. The first time I came back from Iraq we landed in Bangor, ME and were greeted by WWII, Korea, and Vietnam vets all thanking us. Man, they had it all wrong. We should have thanked them.

  2. You stand alone, uniquely, without having to compete, young man! The greatness of each individual is not the same, but the individual’s love respect and passion those are bare minimums to maximun greatness ! Miami

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