Since 2006, I haven’t really associated margaritas or ponchos with May 5th. Today marks the 9th anniversary of the helicopter crash that set the tone for my husband’s first deployment to Afghanistan. For the past 10 minutes, I’ve typed and backspaced over multiple words because none of them seemed quite worthy of the sentiment I wish to convey. So instead, I’ll insert a verse of In Flanders Fields –
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
I’ve written about that particular deployment throughout the years – it seems so long ago – we were so young and truth be told, a little wet behind the ears. We were newlyweds and felt invincible – Clay was 23 and I was 22 when he left for war. When he came home 16 months later, we were 25 and 24 and we were different. Our already close bond strengthened even more during that deployment and allowed us to become the (affectionate, fun-loving, confident, and faithful) couple we are today. Although there have been subsequent deployments, countless moves, multiple TDYs, and other military-related events that have given us invaluable life lessons along the way, those 16-months during the first years of our marriage proved to be the most fruitful. And the most gut-wrenchingly sad.
The brave men of 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment who lost their lives during that treacherous 16-month deployment – Lt. Col. Joseph Fenty, Spc. Justin O’Donohoe, Spc. David Timmons, Pfc. Brian Moquin, SFC Jared Monti (Medal of Honor recipient), Staff Sgt. Patrick Lybert, Spc. Brian Bradbury, and 1Lt. Ben Keating are remembered. Today. And everyday.