A Favorite Milblogger Returns, A Tribute to Fallen Brothers, Dealing with Grief


For many bloggers who follow the milblogs, Michael at A Day in Iraq has long been one of our favorite milbloggers. Michael has such a way of writing about his war experiences that as a reader you can almost visualize what Michael writes about.

One thing you expect when you follow the milblogs and support the soldiers is times when they are unable to post. This may be for any number of reasons. Sometimes missions don’t allow the soldier time to post. On other occasions, mission security may prevent posting. Then, there is also another time soldiers don’t post.

This is an occasion all followers of the milblogs, whether family, friend, loved one, or supporter fear over all other reasons for no post, when a soldier is killed! When a soldier is killed, all blogging, emails, phone calls, etc. are on “lock down” so to speak. This prevents a soldier’s family from hearing they have lost their loved one before an official military representative can go to the family’s home and personally tell them of their loved one’s death.

Tragedy struck Michael’s unit! Last October 15, five soldiers were killed in “Alpha 3/2.” These brave soldiers were killed by an IED:

SSG Vincent E. Summers, 38 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division South Haven, Michigan One of five soldiers killed when a roadside bomb detonated near their M2A2 Bradley fighting vehicle during combat operations in Ramadi, Iraq, on October 15, 2005

Spc. Thomas H. Byrd, 21 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division Cochise, Arizona One of five soldiers killed when a roadside bomb detonated near their M2A2 Bradley fighting vehicle during combat operations in Ramadi, Iraq, on October 15, 2005

Spc. Richard A. Hardy, 24 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division Newcomerstown, Ohio One of five soldiers killed when a roadside bomb detonated near their M2A2 Bradley fighting vehicle during combat operations in Ramadi, Iraq, on October 15, 2005

Spc. Jeffrey W. Corban, 30 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division Elkhart, Indiana One of five soldiers killed when a roadside bomb detonated near their M2A2 Bradley fighting vehicle during combat operations in Ramadi, Iraq, on October 15, 2005

Spc. Timothy D. Watkins, 24 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division San Bernardino, California One of five soldiers killed when a roadside bomb detonated near their M2A2 Bradley fighting vehicle during combat operations in Ramadi, Iraq, on October 15, 2005

Two other soldiers were killed in the preceeding month:

Spc. Mathew Bohling, 22 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division Eagle River, Alaska Killed when a roadside bomb detonated near his Humvee during combat operations in Ramadi, Iraq, on September 5, 2005

SSG Jason A. Benford, 30 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division Toledo, Ohio Killed when his patrol was attacked by enemy forces using small arms fire in Ar Ramadi, Iraq, on September 27, 2005

I remember very well when Spc. Mathew Bohling died. You see, Micheal quit posting after posting about Spc. Mathew Bohling’s tragic death. The unit had already lost SSG Jason Benford a few weeks earlier.

I can’t say that the reason Michael stopped posting was due to the tragic losses of these seven [7] brave soldiers. I can say that for the longest time, I and others who read Michael’s blog, patiently and then frantically started asking around to see if anyone had heard from Michael or knew what happened to him.

For many of us, at least for me, there was a tragic sense of loss. I was still grieving the loss of a loved one myself and Micheal’s blog gave me hope that Mike’s death served a higher purpose. Michael’s blog filled some kind of need I had to understand on a more personal level, what our troops were going through in the war. I suppose a lot of my feelings were a result of never being able to write to Mike or offer him support.

I realize Mike was not in a combat zone, officially, but there was always that fear that he would be sent to one. After all, this was,is a war. Michael’s blog helped fill that hole. I felt like I was given a second chance to help and offer support. Maybe it was even more than that or the fact that Michael’s blog was so good. Maybe I even identified with the name. I can’t really say.

I just know that when Michael stopped posting, I felt this terrible sense of loss and powerlessness. There was a sense of failure. There was a terrible sense of fear that something bad had happened. I actually began to believe Michael himself had been killed. I realized I even grieved for him. I had not expected that I could get so attached to any of the milbloggers.

I should have realized that was unavoidable. It is not easy not to care for these soldiers. I and the others who go to the milblogs do so to support the troops. We want to let them know someone cares about them. We want them to know it is ok to be afraid. We want to let our guys and gals know we are proud of them for the sacrifice they are making. When they get homesick, depressed, lonely, or start to feel empty inside or dead, we want to let them know that it’s ok. They will get past these feelings. We want to ease some of the burdens placed on their families.

I experienced a very dramatic change on my own blog. I found I could not do the same type posts I used to do. I found it hard to read the other milblogs. Then I began to notice a change in the mood at home. I decided if I couldn’t read the milblogs like I did before, I could at least try to speak out about the things back home that I felt made the soldiers’ jobs harder. I could speak out about the things that aided the enemy. In other words I found another way to support the troops without the emotional drain.

I realized after a while what had happened. I had allowed myself to get too involved with the milbloggers. In my own grief I had been overly vulnerable. I had forgotten how to support others and protect myself at the same time! I am glad I finally worked this all out. But, I am even more glad to see that Michel has returned to blogging, that he is ok.

I am saddened at Michael’s losses and the losses of the fellow soldiers in his unit. I join him in remembering and honoring the memory of those seven soldiers killed last year, SSG Summers, Spc. Byrd, Spc. Hardy, Spc. Corban, Spc. Watkins, Spc. Mathew Bohling, and SSG Jason Benford. I know it is a little after the fact, but go to A Day in Iraq and read Michael’s post, The Crew of Alpha 3/2. It is a beautiful Veterans Day tribute to seven fine young men who gave their all in the service of their country.

Michael, if you read this, I am glad you are blogging again. I and many others have missed you! I wish you and your fellow soldiers a safe return, all of you. Thank you for your service and the many sacrifices you have all made and endured. Thank you for sharing your war time experiences with us all back home! God Bless you all!

Advertisements

~ by devildog6771 on November 17, 2006.

5 Responses to “A Favorite Milblogger Returns, A Tribute to Fallen Brothers, Dealing with Grief”

  1. Thank you for honoring our solders. Proud mother of Spc. Thomas H. Byrd.

  2. Tear! Tear! I feel the same way too Mom. That is just the nicest thing anyone has said to me in a long time! Thank you. Welcome to “my family” too! You and FlagGazer are both awesome.

  3. Bless the families of all our Fallen ~ and those who aren’t family, yet care.

    My posting has changed also, DD. I started out just a mom of a new soldier and posted resources for the new enlistees and the families. Then I realized after supporting so many and getting to know some of them, the caring came. I could no longer just post info. Then the politics and the spit*media*spit was something that I needed to address. These people are playing with our loved ones’ lives and I just couldn’t be silent at all ~ as you well know – heh!
    I’ve lost one soldier I supported and it hit me hard. I had never met him in person ~ I didn’t have to, to care. They are my adopted family and I can do no less than watch their backs from the homefront.
    I don’t know what I would have done without my military and blogger family the past couple of years. You are so right – we need each other because it does affect all of us. And I’m so glad you are part of my “family”.

  4. It is and it was! But, I wanted to let people know Michael was blogging again. I also wanted to let people know that we really are all in this together! We try our best to support the troops. In the process of doing so we share their pain and grief along with their successes and good news.

    Blogging with and for the troops truly is a supportive process and for me a source of great healing. I only hope that any posts I make on blogs for the troops helps them half as much as it has helped me. After all, that is what this is really “all about,” helping and supporting them.

    But, there is another element. That element is the consequences of war for the troops and those at home. War affects us all. Blogging allows us us to share that experience, support each other, and learn things about war op0n both sides of the front that maybe one day can help prevent war.

    Milblogging is, in my opinion, a far better deterrant to war than protesting in the streets and aiding our enemies. It removes the feelings of “that war over there” and makes us all participants in our own way.

    It also lets the troops know they are not forgotten and in this alone. I hope the Pentagon and the military “higher ups” come to realize this.

    That can only be a very good thing.

  5. This is a difficult post to read – so many emotions – and, I’m sure harder to write. But, I thank you, as it expresses so many of my feelings.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: