Sunday, November 26, 2006

A Fallen Comrade

How do you write about someone who has been killed in action when you barely knew him? When I heard the news this morning that one of our Utah soldiers was killed yesterday, I wasn’t sure if I would write about it but like a couple other times in the past, I think the only way I can get over these feelings of gloom and despair are to write about them. The soldier was a young LT with a young family. At Shelby he had a picture of his family above his bunk, just like so many other soldiers.

This morning the Utah contingency is in various stages of shock. Of course those who knew him and his family are more affected than those of us who would recognize his face but not much more. I think the thing that is causing us all to pause and reflect, and me in particular, is that death is a real possibility that we all face but one that we don’t want to deal with; that it can reach out and touch us in a moment when we least expect it. I know there have been times when I have been pretty cavalier in my belief that I was impervious to death. Before I left I felt such a strong feeling of peace and comfort that everything would be alright that I’ve taken that to mean that I would return home safely. But if I am honest with myself, that’s not what I felt. All I know is that everything will be alright, even if I don’t come home and that’s not a thought I want to think about.

I think that’s what’s affected me more than anything this morning. Did he feel the same way I did before we got deployed? Did he feel like the Lord would take care of everything and that he would return home safely when the reality has proven to be otherwise?

And then my thoughts turn to his wife and children and the grief and anguish they must be feeling this morning. I can only imagine what his family is going through and my heart just aches. How do you find the words to express your sympathies, your grief at their loss? How do you adequately thank his family for the sacrifice of their husband and father? I don’t know that words can adequately express those feelings. I know I’m not doing a very good job.

With today being the Sabbath, I am grateful that I’ll be able to meet with my fellow Latter-Day Saint Soldiers and partake of the Sacrament. I know that there will be a very different spirit in our meeting tonight. I know each one of us will be thinking the same thoughts, offering the same prayer for his family and thanking the Lord for our own safety. I am looking forward to renewing my covenants and reflecting on the infinite mercy that is the atonement and what it means to this young officer and his family. Words cannot take away the pain and anguish they will feel for a very long time but fortunately they, we, I, don’t have to rely on words alone. I am so grateful for the knowledge I have that if we keep our covenants that we will one day see each other and be able to live together as a family for all eternity. So it’s not the words themselves that bring comfort but the truth behind the words.

I guess my final thoughts are on our officer and the sacrifice he made. He was here trying to bring peace to a violence ridden land. He was trying to teach the ANA how to become a better Army. He was serving his country. He was a hero in the truest sense. So on this day of mourning all I can say to him and his family is “thank you and that my thoughts and prayers will be with you.”

13 comments:

Chris said...

In the deepest sense, he has returned HOME safely. My heart goes out to his family. We pray for you guys daily. The service you are providing can never be truly measured, nor compensated for. Thank you all for your selfless service. What more can be said than that he gave his life for his "friends".

Anonymous said...

“I wasn’t sure if I would write about it but like a couple other times in the past, I think the only way I can get over these feelings of gloom and despair are to write about them.”

TRY IN YOUR PERSONAL JOURNAL!!

Anonymous said...

I want to thank you for the tribute to this young soldier. Although I didn't know him personally I thought that you expressed my feelings also. My husband is in your unit and had the opportunity to pay his last respects and be a part of the service and ramp ceremony. I am so grateful and proud of each of you for your service to our great country. I pray continually for everyones safe return.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for NOT JUST PUTTING THIS IN YOUR PERSONAL JOURNAL. I appreciate you letting the rest of us see into your feelings and the feelings of all those soldiers in Afghanistan. Do not stop writing these entries just because of one person's comment. This was a fine tribute to a great soldier. Our prayers are with his family and with all of those serving our country!

Anonymous said...

I agree. Very often we 'think' lots of things when something happens and very rarely do we 'say' or 'do'. I'm guilty. I would hope someone would 'say' something if it were Trooper. From a proir Trooper experience, it does help when you can see something tangible and know someone cared and was thought of.

Andrew said...

I don't know anyone that reads this blog looking for banality. Reading about a war zone is disturbing--it reminds us of all we hold dear. How can readers appreciate the reality of what their friends and family are experiencing without the good and the bad? I don't want the fluff, I want the real story. I want to know what to pray for. I don't want to be surprized.

Heros give quiet service but they should be praised from the mountain tops. That's the only thing we have to give to the family of a fallen hero--our gratitude and honor.

Anonymous said...

Today at out Service Members group meeting we had two great talks. One was on being an instrument in the Lord's Hands and the second about the content of the new video "let Not you Heart be Troubled." This Elder and I are in awe of the commitment that each soldier, airman, marine and sailor have made to our country in this time of war. All of you and your families are in our prayers. You are the instruments in the Lord's hands. You will see ancient prophecies unfold and will be blessed.

IceMom

Anonymous said...

The problem is this post might have been more appropriate if some time was allowed to pass. Time for soldiers to call their wives and tell them they are ok. It's a scary thing being a soldier's wife. Reading this post was terrifying and heart breaking, but it's intent was deeply meaningful.

Anonymous said...

I can see that. I knew it wasn't my soldier because he sent me a text early, before I checked email and things. And then I could tell by the content of the blog. I can also see expressing feelings. There is a blackout period and family should have been notified before anyone can use communication. I have just ached all day. For the family, and also for those there who have had to think about alot of things in the last couple of days.

Anonymous said...

Also being a soldier's wife I can relate to the struggles and heartache that come with having a loved one gone and in harms way, but part of the experience is knowing what's going on in the lives of the soldiers. There is more heartache and struggles when you don't know what's going on. I know you waited until family was notified, so it was appropriate to post it when you did.

melanie fagan said...

I spoke with Jeanine, and she is such an incredible, beautiful person. Her faith and strength are like nothing that I have ever experienced, and I have worked in the hospice field for 15 years. She and Scott enjoyed a love that surpasses this world, she feels his presence and is comforted - knowing that he is still here with her, protecting her and her family...just now in a different way. At the funeral, she spoke about their "happy-ever after" and Chad Pledger (1st LT) reminded everyone present to "love their wives". Scott's brother-in-law spoke about what a great example he was. Jeanine said that he never - and she knew him since they were 15 years old - let coffee, tea, drugs, or alcohol pass through his lips. He honored his covenants, and made the choices that will ensure that he is now preparing their heavenly home. Jeanine was certain that they WILL be together in eternity - and that comfort gave her peace, and lifted her up. It also did amazing things for the people there that were there attending. You couldn't help but want to lead a life like he led, to spread the gospel, and be a better person. This amazing man, even in death, was helping others to look outside themselves - at their children, spouses, their loved ones..and love them better - live a better life - and it reminded you that this life is just a minute, compared to the eternity that will follow it. At the graveside, after most had left and it was just myself, Bethanny Pledger, and Jeanine, she looked deeply into my eyes and told me "just don't have any regrets. I don't." The last thing that they said to each other, 18 hours before he was killed was, "Do you know how much I love you?...." "I do." Life is so precious, and can be gone in the blink of an eye. What matters is that we live our life so that we can continue on with the ones that we love. Please, please continue to write here. Don't hold back, or censor feelings because somebody made a nasty comment. There are more people than you know that read what you write, and have only that connection to their loved ones out there. Jeanine told me that for her, the "not knowing" that we wives are going through is over for her...she knows where he is, and is comforted because of it. She is at peace because they have the gospel in their lives. I am reminded of that every night that I wake up, scared to death that I might lose the love of my life in Afghanistan, or the husbands of my friends here. Then I remember what Jeanine reminded me, and try to have the stalwart faith that she has. Thank you so much for your sacrifice and for your service to our country. This is just another reminder to us all, that freedom is not free. I agree with chris when he says, "...in the deepest sense, he has returned HOME safely." It just puts your perspective in a different place.

SFC. Fagan said...

Since we are one, I indeed echo what my wife has written above, we morn the loss but find joy in the truth knowing that we will be with our loved ones some day again. Life is eternal.

Tessa A. said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings, your words are healing. My husband is also with this unit and to accept the reality is extremely difficult, but like you said, It will be alright. It is one of those things that is out of our hands, and if God brings us to it he will bring us through it!

Thank you!