After four years at West Point and over six years serving on active duty as an officer in the U.S. Army, I have seen my share of death. The number of friends, classmates, and coworkers that have been casualties of the war on terror is too high for me to begin to count.
I think there might be the perception that you expect death or become almost immune to it if you are in or around the military. Yes, death is always a possibility when you deploy but I think most service men and women would tell you that they expect to return home to their loved ones. You know there is an inherent risk when you join the military, but the desire to serve your country is greater then any fear you may have.
And let me tell you. It doesn’t get easier. In fact, I would argue that it gets harder. You get so tired of having to say goodbye to friends and coworkers, of good people losing their lives way too soon, and of seeing happy families torn apart and changed forever. You get frustrated because things seem to stay the same despite their giving of their life. And you get annoyed when other trivial stories get more press than your friend’s passing.
The war on terror doesn’t generate the same press that it did when it first started. I will admit that I have no concept of what is going on in Afghanistan at the moment, where U.S. troops are stationed, or even how many are there. It’s easy to forget that there are still thousands of men and women protecting our freedom each and every day.
Despite my husband and I both being free and clear of any further commitment to the Army, we still have many friends, spouses of friends, and former coworkers still serving our country.
One of my husband’s best friends had recently deployed to Afghanistan, his third deployment during his 12+ Army career. Although Major Tom Kennedy (“TK”) had only been in my life for a few short years, he had been an integral part of my husband’s life since their first year at West Point in 1996. They were classmates, hockey teammates, roommates after graduation, and “Battle” or “Ranger” buddies during Ranger school. TK and my husband spent most of the next eight years stationed at different posts throughout the world but still managed to overlap several times and made the most out of those times together.
We were thrilled when we learned that TK and his beautiful wife, Kami, were to be stationed at West Point for three years (starting in 2009). My husband and I were living in NYC at the time and were excited to not just crash at their home during trips up to our alma mater (which we did numerous times) but to get to spend time with two of the nicest, warmest people we knew.
TK and Kami welcomed their adorable twins (Maggie and Brody) in early fall of 2010 and we soon followed with the birth our son in January. Our families were present at many events for each other, including our son’s Christening and 1st Birthday Party.
After three years as faculty at West Point, TK returned to a line unit for what was supposed to be a short deployment. He had been in Afghanistan for less than three weeks, when the unimaginable happened – Major Thomas Kennedy was KIA during a routine patrol in the eastern province of Kunar.
The world lost an amazing husband, father, son, brother, friend, and soldier Wednesday. TK had the ability to light up a room with his smile and laugh and the world seems a bit dimmer since Wednesday night.
Regardless of your view on this war and whether the U.S. should even have a presence there, I just ask that you keep Major Kennedy, his wife, Kami, his children Maggie and Brody, his parents, family and friends in your thoughts and prayers.