On Nov. 12, 2016, lives were changed forever. In the early hours of the morning, the 1st Cavalry Division Sustainment Brigade was beginning the day more than 7,800 miles away in Afghanistan when a suicide bomber detonated an explosive device on Bagram Airfield. The explosion killed five and injured 10 of our Wagonmaster service members.
Last Friday, I had the honor to join our Wagonmaster family to honor and remember our fallen service members and contractors who gave the ultimate sacrifice, and those wounded in action as a result of the events that day.
Sgt. 1st Class Allan Brown, Staff Sgt. John Perry, Pfc. Tyler Iubelt, Col. (retired) Jarrold Reeves Jr., and Peter Provost lost their lives. Their names will be etched in my heart forever.
In addition to those five names, there are 10 other names of service members that will hold space in my heart forever.
Just over a year ago, I woke up at my in-laws home in Sarasota, Florida and began the morning routine of scanning through my Facebook feed. Scrolling through, I saw post after post of news stories about an explosion at Bagram Air Field. The news took my breath away. My husband was deployed there. Our friends were deployed there. Our Army family was deployed there.
The night before, I had been able to video chat with my husband, but our call got disconnected. At the time, I didn’t think much of it because of the Wi-Fi communication issues from halfway across the world.
But after seeing the news stories, my mind went to the worst and my fingers couldn’t do enough google searches or refreshes on the computer as I tried to get any nugget of information I could.
Information was scarce. I connected with a few of the Army spouses in my network and we all passed on what we knew to each other. My newsroom background reminded me there is always a lot of misinformation early on, so to try and stay calm. The reality was my husband was there. Our friends were there. Our Army family was there. It was hard to keep from falling into the sea of information, whether it was true or not.
It seemed like an eternity before I got word that my husband was okay. Other families did not get the same word.
Slowly, names were released and the Wagonmaster family came together for our Gold Star families and for those who were injured.
I returned to Fort Hood and began doing everything and anything I could for our Wagonmaster family members in need. Since that day, I have been blessed to get know our Gold Star families and am lucky to call them friends. The grace and strength they show on a daily basis is a true testament to the service and sacrifice of their soldier.
A memorial stands near Cooper Field as a place for all to reflect on the events of that November day. The plaque to commemorate the ultimate sacrifice reads, “their dedication and devotion to duty are in are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service, and reflects great credit upon themselves, the 1st Cavalry Division Sustainment Brigade, and the United States Army.”
As the lives of the Wagonmasters and their families were changed forever, our service members and military families continue to step up with duty, respect, honor, integrity, selfless service and personal courage.
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13
I share this story with gratitude for our Gold Star families today and every single day.
You will forever be this nation’s greatest treasures.
Reena O’Brien is an Army spouse and a Herald correspondent. She lives on Fort Hood.