Hi Sweetie,

Today we are holding a memorial service for you but you already know that. It’s been a year
since I received word of your death. It has been a year full of trials and tribulations. I often
wonder where time goes. It seems like it was just yesterday that you were a baby but then it
seems like it was just yesterday that you were here with us. We all miss you terribly but our
hearts are filled with your memory.

You are my first thought in the morning and the last before I go to sleep. Many people have told
me they think I am so strong. What they don’t know is that each day I sing to myself part of a
song that I’ve known for years. I’ve sung it every day since last year. It goes something like this:

“One day at a time sweet Jesus, that’s all I’m asking from you,
Give me the strength to do every day what I have to do.
Yesterday’s gone sweet Jesus and tomorrow may never be here . . . “

I told your Aunt Sally this was not to be a sad occasion but one of memories. I told her not to cry
but I don’t think it’s going to do any good. You know how emotional she gets!

Lots of things have happened the past year that lets me know you are watching out for us and
letting us know you are still with us. Some would say they are coincidences but I don’t think so.
Here are some things I’ve noticed:

1. Your Auburn Tigers had a wonderful football season in 2004.

2. Your name was inscribed on the Clarksville War Memorial on November 5, 2004, my birthday.

3. The dedication of the War Memorial was on November 20, 2004, Lisa’s birthday.

4. We had a white Christmas last year. While somewhat unusual, Lisa had a white Christmas in
McAllen Texas, the first white Christmas on over 100 years. I’m not quite sure how you pulled
that one off!

5. A kind stranger called and asked if she could paint a portrait f you. All she needed was some
pictures. We took them to her. She said it would take some time but she would call us when it
was ready. She called a few weeks later and asked if we could come and pick the portrait up on
Thursday. We did so and it was beautiful. It just so happened that that Thursday was April 28th
2005, your birthday.

6. Recently there was a terrorist attack on one of the carrier ships in the Middle East. The
missile barely missed the ship. On that ship was your Aunt Donna’s nephew, Hoyt. Thanks for
your influence on that one!

7. Last but definitely not least is today. Darrin is going before a Court martial Jury. He drove the
lead police car in your funeral procession and he looked after you when you were in basic
training at Fort Leonard Wood. Today I am sure you will be looking after him.

I don’t believe all of these are merely coincidences. I think you are telling all of us “I’m still here,
I've not left you.”

Now for memories. Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell any secrets and no I’m not going to keep
everyone here for hours. Just a few favorites.

I remember your beautiful brown eyes, long eyelashes, your one dimple and those ugly tattoos.
But most of all I remember your smile. During the dedication of the War Memorial Mr. Strauss
spoke of you sitting in the back of the class with that half grin on your face as it to say “I know
that.” I remember that mischievous smile you always had. You never said much but you always

One of my favorite memories is when you begged me to let you have a sleep over in the back
yard for your birthday. You promised you would stay outside and be quiet. Next thing I know you
and all your friends were in the house. Something spooked you. Odd that you would grow up
and go into an occupation that required you to sleep in tents!

Another of my favorites was when you went to Kings Island with Pat and some other friends. You
were so amazed that when the menu said a whole chicken, it really meant a whole chicken. You
spent most of your money on that meal.

I remember the sock fights and the orange fights and the fights you boys would get into. Out of
necessity, and to save time, you three boys would take a bath together when you were little.
You never understood why Patrick did not want to sit by the water faucet. Could it be because
you always turned the cold water on him or could it have been because you would pull the plug
and tell him he was going to go down the drain? He would be screaming and you would be

I remember the time you and Kathleen managed to come home without me knowing.  Dottie
insisted I go to lunch with her that day. I walked into Wendy’s and there all of you stood in the
balcony. All of you smiling like you had pulled off the ultimate surprise, and I believe you had.

I remember the Thanksgiving that you told me you could not get leave because you had guard
duty. I was so sad you couldn’t come home. You always liked angel food cake with caramel icing
for dessert. I walked down to Bobby’s and everyone moved aside and there you stood grinning
like a cat that ate the canary. Oh how I love that smile.

There are so many memories that I have of you but I believe one of the worst fears a parent has
after losing a child is that everyone will forget. I know your family will always remember but I didn’
t want those outside the family to forget you either. That fear was laid to rest when I went to a
ceremony at Fort Hood for the uncasing of the colors and the unveiling of the monument
dedicated to those from the 1st. Cavalry killed in Iraq.

I spoke to many of those you served with. All spoke highly of you and the work and dedication
you had for your job and others. We went to supper the night before the ceremony with Perez,
Sgt. Areola, Shrek and Derek and his wife. After listening to them talk about their memories of
things you all did together, especially when you brought them home with you for the 4th of July
weekend when I was in Hawaii. I have no doubts they will not forget you. Their bond with you is
no different that if you were blood brothers. You shared your lives and trusted your lives to each
other. They will never forget you.

I met a gentleman by the name of Sgt. Chichester. He told me of the anger he felt when he
heard about what happened. He was on guard duty and no one would tell him until later. They
would only tell him you were gone. He said he didn’t know what to do. He wanted to shoot
someone but then you spoke to him and told him he needed to calm down. He said you told him
he needed to take care of himself and watch out for everyone else and being angry was not
going to help. He said he would never forget you.

The one memory I will be eternally grateful for came from Specialist Brian Howard. He explained
he was driving the vehicle you were in. he said all of you were laughing and joking and then
came the explosion. He said you had to have died with a smile on your face. For that I am
grateful. You always smiled.

Thanks for the memories and for being my son. I am happy to have gotten to have you for 23
years. Please continue to watch over us. Give Pepaw a hug and kiss. You are in a different
army now and you will continue to serve well.