Monday, February 16, 2009

Staring death in the face

My oldest son was killed in Iraq in November of 2007.

Pete replaced a Lieutenant who was being promoted to Captain and moving up in the brigade.

Ryan knew Pete for a month. Ryan trained Pete. Ryan rode with Pete in his Stryker alternating stints standing in the right rear hatch of the command vehicle.

Ryan turned the troop over to Pete on a Monday. On Tuesday, Pete took the 17 soldiers and their three vehicles for a 24 hour mission to maintain security at a combat operating post in Baghdad. On the way back to the Green Zone, Pete's vehicle was blown apart by an array of Iranian made EFMPs. They were 100 yards from the entrance to the Green Zone.

Ryan heard the explosion and heard the chatter over the radio. He rushed with another Captain to the scene to check on the group that had been Ryan's responsibility just 48 hours before.

They then rushed to the combat hospital to check on the wounded. They learned then that Pete didn't make it.

Ryan knelt in the street with anger. He was angry that his men had been attacked. He was angry that some of his men had been hurt. He was angry that his new friend was dead.

He had his weapon with him, and wanted to use it on the Iraqi policemen that had allowed the bomb to be placed, and may well have set it off.

I met Ryan yesterday for the first time. I took him to Pete's grave today. Ryan wept as he said, "Mr. Burks, it should have been me." I hugged him and gently disagreed. "Ryan, it was Pete's turn. God has other plans for you."

I got back in the car and allowed Ryan time with Pete. I can only imagine what was going thru his mind. There but by the grace of God he lay buried.

Ryan snapped to attention and saluted Pete.

Ryan, I love you son. I hurt with you, son. I realized today that as hard as it is for all of us left behind, you may have the hardest job of all.


  1. What an eloquently written piece. It brought tears to my eyes. Pete must have been a very special person. May God be with you, your family and with Ryan!

    Judy Overton Hartlein

  2. Wow, Mr. B, thanks for writing this.


  3. Thanks Alan..well said...very touching...