A Farewell to Two Heroes
I wish to offer my remembrance, thanks, and admiration for two fellow troops who are no longer with us. They gave all in their service of country and I feel that I am forever in their debt. Though I can never repay them, I can remember them and try to honor them for giving of their youth because they believed that our country was worth it.
Sgt. Matt Maupin was taken prisoner by insurgents near Baghdad international airport in 2004. Although he was seen to be in the custody of insurgents on a video, his fate remained unknown. He was 20-years-old at the time. In 2005, during my deployment, I walked by his portrait every night when I went to the DFAC for dinner. I wondered where he was and I hoped that maybe he was getting a hot meal or some little comfort. During my second deployment in 2007, he was still missing in action. I carried a small wallet-size photograph of his portrait in my war wallet. I visited his family's website and hoped like them that somehow he had survived his capture.
Today I learned that Sgt. Maupin's body has been identified in Iraq. Rest easy, brother. MIA is horrible, but it is better than KIA. We owe it to you to keep this country great enough to deserve the sacrifice you made. Every decision made in this war must count the immeasurable value of your life in the balance. You are not forgotten. (Picture Source: Yellow Ribbon Support Center)
I met Airman Paige Villers when she was already sick enough to need to be in the intensive care unit in Texas. Although she was an adult, I was asked to see her because her illness required a therapy that we usually use on children with critically ill lungs. I performed a small procedure on her that was a drop in the bucket of care provided to her by over a hundred techs, nurses, and doctors while she was in our hospital. She was 19-years-old at the time. I thought she looked so young to be a troop, and so young to be fighting for her life. But then again, they all do to me. I met some of her family. They stayed by her side and basked her in the healing of a family's unconditional love. She rallied the way that only a young, strong body can. She was able to graduate from basic military training like so many other newest Airmen. We were so proud of her. Even though it was her achievement, we felt that somehow her honor reflected on us. When she relapsed and died shortly after it was crushing for all of us. When I saw her story published in Airman magazine and the beautiful pictures of her in good health, it immediately brought back the sting of loss . She was buried with full military honors. She deserves that and much more than we can give her for laying down her life for her country in a time of war. She was just 13 when this war started. When she was old enough, she chose to join the military and give something back to her country. She gave so much. Airman Villers, I honor you, I thank you for your selfless sacrifice, and I will remember you. (Picture Source: Ohio.com Photo Gallery)