Anytime I have to write about the death of a soldier or a veteran who is prominent in the community, it reminds me that we never know what tomorrow may bring.
Those are usually the most difficult stories to write, because that means I’ve lost a brother or sister in arms. It’s even more difficult when it’s someone I know.
Recently, I wrote about the unexpected death of Chief Warrant Officer 2 Andre Nance.
While I never really had the opportunity to get to know him, I worked extensively with his wife, Tomora, who happened to be the 3rd Cavalry Regiment public affairs chief. She would send me stories to publish and get me any information I needed for Brave Rifles coverage.
Tomora is a wonderful person, so I would expect anyone who could win her heart to be someone just as wonderful; and from everything I learned about Nance, he definitely fit the bill. For him to die so suddenly — and so young — broke my heart for the family he left behind and made me wish I’d had the opportunity to get to know him, first.
Shortly afterward, someone I consider a good friend died suddenly of a heart attack. Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Elijah King Jr., a man with his fingers in anything to do with bettering the lives of soldiers and veterans, was also too young to leave us, if you ask me.
King was a loving family man who would literally give you the shirt off his back if you needed it.
If you were a struggling soldier or veteran, he would stop at nothing until he utilized his vast resource of contacts and veteran organizations to ensure you were taken care of — whether your need was physical, mental or monetary.
King served in the Army for 30 years and continued that service after retiring.
His motto: “Old soldiers never die and I refuse to fade away. Soldier for Life!”
He served on the Army Chief of Staff Retiree Council, was the co-chairman of the Fort Hood Retiree Council and served as a veteran advisor to congressmen. He was a member of the Retired Enlisted Association, Star Group-Veterans Helping Veterans-Star Group, the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars.
I had spoken to him only a few days before he died, so when I received the call, I was floored.
None of us expect to leave this earth before we’re ready, but we never know what tomorrow will bring.
So tell your significant other “I love you” today. Call that family member you haven’t talked to in a while, or that friend.
Because today is all we have.
David A. BRYANT is an Army retiree and the military editor for the Killeen Daily Herald. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 254-501-7554.