The Boys Are Back in Town!

Our son is the paratrooper you see walking in the last frame of this YouTube video from 2011.

We feel lighter today.   Must be because we can finally exhale. We just received word that our son is back at his military base in Italy after his second lengthy tour in Afghanistan.

He has proven himself to be an officer and a gentleman. We’re so proud of him for using his talents to serve our country.  We are eternally grateful to those who prayed for his safety.

Prior to our son’s first stint “downrange” our friend’s son, Major Frank Diorio, was featured on CNN Lou Dobbs Tonight.  During the interview, Philippa Holland, CNN Senior Producer, said, “No food, no sleep, no casualties during three solid days of fighting in what was considered the most dangerous city in Al Anbar Province. Diorio did not lose a single Marine during any of the 275 engagements in the seven months he led in Iraq.”

No casualties out of 275 engagements?  Unheard of.  These statistics wowed me, but I didn’t think much more about these numbers until my son headed directly into the danger zone — and he, too, was responsible for other mother’s sons as a platoon leader (and later, as a Captain).  So, I called New Jersey.  “Uh, this is your Minnesota buddy.  I remembered about Frank — how he and his men survived all of those battles with no casualties.  Can you tell me — what was his secret?”

My friend  didn’t skip a beat, “Psalm 91.”

He must have misunder-stood. I expected some top secret military strategy — something more tangible. “What? Can you repeat that?”

“Psalm 91.  It’s the Soldier’s Psalm.  I pray it every day and so does my son.  That’s what kept him safe.”

Our sons had their weapons of protection.  We parents needed ours — and we weren’t taking any chances.  So, I promptly typed up two-sided Psalm 91 cards and printed them on a camoflauge background for our son and his men to carry in their pockets if any of them so desired. I took the cards to Staples to be laminated.  The kid working at the counter rolled his eyes at first, but when I was ready to leave, he whispered, “Do you have an extra?  I have this military friend…”

My son admitted that he didn’t hand out the cards.  Picture it: “Uh, men, these are from my mom.”  But he gave them to the chaplain to distribute.  I’m hoping our son and his macho crew responded like the kid at the counter and took a card on the sly.

During our son’s first assignment in Afghanistan, his 503rd (Airborne) Infantry regiment platoon was deployed to follow in the footsteps of other brave American platoons, like those who were featured in Restrepo, the documentary (not suitable for children).  Watching the movie made the reality of our son’s situation all the more real.  Then, we watched Taking Chance.  I didn’t want to be Pollyanna about this.  I wanted to know what he was up against.

March 10 edit: Our condolences go to the family of Private First Class Theodore Glende and any families who aren’t able to celebrate the victory of their loved one’s homecoming. Our hearts break for their loss.  Our son didn’t share until today about the the continuous barrage of enemy fire to their bases or about the attack that killed Private Glende.  He always assured us, “Don’t worry, we’re safe.” I’m sure he didn’t want to worry us.

I can’t say why our prayers didn’t protect Private Glende from harm, but his story is far from over.  And, because he was where he was when he was — five other men were saved.  His young wife and his family deserve to be so proud of his valor.  We are eternally grateful for Glende’s life, but so sad about his death and his family’s loss.  This strenghtens our commitment to pray every night as long as we are able, for all brave men and women out there.  We can’t thank them enough for their sacrifices.

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