Thursday, January 05, 2006

Tribute to a Hero, Sgt. Michael Stokely

I read this over at Crazy Politico's Rantings, and I knew I had to share it with you. It is a letter written by the Father of one of our heroes who gave his all for what he truly believed was the right thing to do.

The name of Crazy Politico's article is Will the Post Print This? A question I, too, am curious to have answered. Below is the letter I wrote to the editor. I am very hopeful they will consider my request, along with all the others.
Dear Editor,

How are you today? Well, I hope. I would like to request you print a letter in a your editorial section, or wherever you believe it appropriate.

It is written by Mr. Robert Stokely. He is the father of a Soldier who died serving our country in Iraq. I would appreciate very much your thoughtfulness, because I know you care. After all, you did accept the letter of another father.

It is enclosed below, in case it has been accidentally misplaced. Again. Thank you.


Rosemary *****
DoD Daily News

I thought I'd share my thoughts as the dad of an American Soldier killed in action four plus months ago, very near in time to Mr. Schroeder's son. My son was standing cover flank for two buddies checking out a suspicious location in the roadway while on patrol at 2:20 A.M. 16 Aug when an IED exploded. He was the only one killed. Two other soldiers suffered serious injuries and are now home on permanent medical leave and both are expected to make full recoveries after they finish med rehab and surgery.

Life is hard when you lose a child; you have children and you think of them burying you and not the other way around. But war brings a new perspective to the parent child relationship, for the parent is put in a position that they are unable to fulfill a basic parental instinct - protect your child. Losing a child, especially in war and especially with media attention focused on your loss, is difficult. I find myself counting time in weeks - every Monday at 6:20 p.m., I silently remember, maybe with a tear, that X weeks ago Mike died at what was 2:20 a.m. his time on Tuesday; then as the evening goes on, I think, Mike was dead X hours at this time; I then awake on what is my Tuesday morning, and at 7:00 a.m., I remember the call to my home and the voice saying "Mr. Stokely, this is Maj. Hulsey - please come to the door, your dog won't let us up the driveway and we need to speak to you" and then remembering my fast gait to the driveway and asking, before they can say anything "is my boy dead" and the the words they spoke, with humble sadness in the eyes of Maj. Hulsey and the Chaplin that was with him "we regret to inform you...." But the pain,while there, is more manageable. I think it must be like the rigors and harshness of war - it is always the same, you just adjust.

No pity for me is needed, for as a friend said to me, I am lucky to have a son who has brought such honor to his father and the entire family. My son was a man who had a heart that cared deeply for others, and they likewise cared for him. In all of this, so many stories of his simple kindness have been shared with us and touched us. My favorite is the one where he and his buddies had been on continuous duty for several days (their normal day was 22 hours long). He and one of his fellow soldiers had to pull guard duty after being on missions for that continuous period without any sleep. He told his buddy to take a nap and he would stand watch and then they would swap out. For the next several hours, he let his buddy sleep while he stood the whole watch.

We miss him so much. We hurt inside. But we burst with pride in our son and brother. His memory will not fade nor will our love for him. When Mike was just becoming a teenager, I tried to imagine what he would be one day. I often told people I wasn't sure where life would take him, but I knew he would do something different and be very well known in his chosen field. I never dreamed he would become an American Hero who would serve his country so well.

Mike Stokely joined the Georgia National Guard in the spring of 2000, as a junior in high school, going to boot camp that summer, and then returning to complete his senior year, graduating in 2001. Before joining, he and I discussed that the only guarantee of his six year hitch was that he would be on foriegn soil and fight in a war. We then discussed the real meaning of fighting in war -kill or be killed. In response to his question on what I thought as to whether he should join or not, I asked him two questions, with the admonition that his answers had to be an unequivolcal yes: 1) if called upon by your country to kill, are you prepared to kill another person in war? 2) remembering that it is the other side's job to kill you, are you prepared to be killed for your country? His response to both questions was an unequivocal yes.

A week before Mike Stokely died on August 16, in his last telephone call to me, we again discussed the dangers of the war. In fact, I told him that when he came home on leave in a few weeks, I might carry out what I considered doing before he left - crippling him by hitting him in the shins with a ball bat. He very calmly, and firmly said these words to me "Dad, if it is God's will for me to die, he will take me wherever I am at, whether it be in the safety of my home or in the dangers of war in Iraq. Dad you can't hide me from God and if I have to die, I'd rather die serving my country than anything I can imagine. If my time is now, then I am ready."

For whatever reason, the last few days what Cindy Sheehan said "Casey didn't die for a just cause" has been on my mind. Maybe it is because some people have felt comfortable enough four months out to ask me how I felt about Mike's death and whether I thought the cause was "just" enough to justify his sacrifice.

My response is that Mike didn't die for a "just cause", he died JUST BECAUSE - just because he loved his country enough to want to serve it since the time he was in middle school; just because he loved his family enough to want to protect them; just because he loved his friends enough that he would rather fight a war "there" than here; just because he believed in our order of government whereby the civilian government rules and the military obeys, and when the President, with lawful authority(and the approval of Congress, including Republicans and Democrats), calls upon soldiers to go and fight, he believed it was not only his duty, but his honor to go; just because he wouldn't let his fellow soldiers - his guys - go it alone; and just because he wanted to do for others - the Iraqi people - what he would do for his own country.

A good friend of our family, Charles Carmical, wrote these words in tribute to Mike - “Would I lay down my life for a country to defend? I willing would if it housed my family and friends."

Mike Stokely didn't die for a just cause, he died for a lot of just causes, including the ones I set out above. I wish I were fit to tie his shoe laces but I am fortunate enough to have a son who believed in God, family, duty, honor and country and who certainly turned out to be the better of the two of us.

Robert Stokely, Lucky and Proud to be the Dad of
SGT Michael "Mike" James Stokely, KIA Operation Iraqi Freedom 16 Aug 05
2nd Platoon, E Troop 108th CAV 48h Brigaded GA NATL GUARD
15 miles south / southwest of Baghdad near Yusufiyah / IED
If you would, please make your request known to the Washington Post as well. Maybe if they determine there is a demand for such letters, they will print more. You may write them here.

I must add my own thoughts. No matter how many letters I read like this, my heart aches each and every time. It does not get easier. I adore the bravery of these heroes. I admire them so very much, and I will always remain grateful for their sacrifices.

It hurts my heart the way the Left and the anti-American (do NOT confuse them with anti-war) treat our men and women. It makes me angry. These men know what is going on back home, and they fight for them anyway. They understand freedom includes the idiots.

They have something special that everyone has lost. Humankind has lost great men throughout the ages. This is first time I have been confronted with the losses that were not in a history book. I don't like it, but I understand it.

Dear Mike,

Please say hello to Austin Rising Star ****** for me. Tell him Mommy loves him and misses him very much. Tell him I'm doing as well as I can. I am looking forward to the day when we will meet again. Thank you.


Rosemary (Mom)

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