108 Hours - A Thank You and Mission Complete
I put up the links asking for support for this journey. To those who helped out: Thank you for your effort to get closure for a family.
A father finally visits the place where his son was killed by an IED in Iraq in 2005, and here’s the story:
It is now 0215 hours 11 Nov 11. I can’t sleep. Not unusual this time of the month. The moon waxes full and draws me into being awake. There is enough moon light in the Georgia night to see without artificial light. A little more full than on the night of August 16, 2005 when SGT Mike Stokely was killed by a powerful IED blast on a lonely road near Yusufiyah Iraq. In the earliest moments of being notified of his death a few hours later, I felt immense guilt for not being there to protect him, and even though I could rationalize my feeble ability was not sufficient match for the skill he possessed much less the skill of the team of soldiers at his side that night. I felt even more guilt for not at least being there to hold him in his final moments, if only to offer the same comfort I offered him when I held him in my arms as a sick baby just 23 years before. How did I go from a car seat to a Flag Draped Casket in such a short period of time?
In the week before he was killed, in what was my last goodbye and hearing him say “I love you dad”, I had joked I would come see him. Yusufiyah was an awful place full of violence where he and his platoon were vastly outnumbered in the area they patrolled. They were there to disrupt the bomb making insurgents and foreign fighters who were staging bombs into Baghdad and to protect roadways that were vital routes in and out of the south of Baghdad. I remember he said I didn’t want to come there, but I told him one day I would. And so it was in those first moments of learning of his death I vowed I would go, I would see where he served, and breathe the air he breathed, see what he saw. I had to do it, and could not rest in peace until I did. I had to give it my best try at the very least for I could not stand the thought of dying and not having tried.