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Deborah Tainsh

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Military Fathers, Mothers & Sons
June 15, 2007

Recently at Fort Benning, Georgia, I stood with a friend and proud mom whose family history and mine are intertwined for the rest of our lives.

This was the second time she and I had stood with pride and honor for a son.  The first was on a sunny, but chilly day in February, 2004, at Fort Polk, Louisiana when my husband and I met Barbara Maggard, wife to U.S. Army 1st Sgt R. Maggard of the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment/2nd Squadron/Eagle Troop. The unit our son Sgt Patrick Tainsh deployed with on April 1, 2003 to Iraq, but returned without as he came home to us alone beneath the flag of his nation after his death in Baghdad, February 11, 2004. We had come together at the Fort Polk chapel for a meaningful memorial service held for Patrick and PFC Ramirez who had also died in the same ambush.

In late April 2004 the heroic, unsung 2nd ACR minus eight returned to Fort Polk, a post where many from Fort Benning have trained. In September we received a call from 1st Sgt Maggard. On a road trip with his family from Fort Polk toward Georgia, they wanted to visit us. Within days, the Maggards with their then seventeen year old son and twelve year old daughter sat with us inside our home.

During the visit the 1st Sgt's stories about Patrick brought laughter and pride. But before that visit ended, we all shared tears after my question of what happened the night of February 11, 2004. We heard the story, retold in my book, Heart of Hawk, while also learning from the 1st Sgt that both he and CO Captain Corn, who had already contacted us, were both holding Patrick when he died.

Our son, the cavalry scout and COs gunner who had cleared the area to save them and others after an ambush. Actions during which Patrick, at the onset, had been mortally wounded by an IED explosion, and that subsequently led to his receiving, posthumously, both the Bronze and Silver Stars. But nothing made my husband, a USMC Sgt Major (retired), more proud than learning from the 1st Sgt that Patrick had always said he wanted to make his dad proud, and just as his dad , wanted to become a Sgt Major.

Was this hard for all of us to talk about? Yes. Was it a catharsis for each of us? Yes. Was it a gift? Most certainly. 1st Sgt Maggard and his family gave us a gift that evening that has bonded us for our lifetime to come. After their leaving that evening, we have maintained constant e-mail communication with the Maggards and also the Corns. Captain Corn, now Major, received orders for Ft. Irwin. 1st Sgt Maggard, now Sgt Major, received orders for Texas, then Alaska, and is currently back in Iraq, where he expects to see his only son any day now.

Sgt. Major R. Maggard with son, PFC. B. Maggard
Sgt. Major R. Maggard with son, PFC. B. Maggard

 

This is the part that really gives me chills and makes me want to sing the praises of the American military family. This is the part that is so amazing about the Maggard family.

Young B. Maggard, 20, who knows his dad's experiences in Baghdad with the 2nd ACR, who knows how Patrick and others in the unit died in 2003-2004, and knows of the losses his dad's current unit is taking, this amazing American son, the son of Sgt Major R. Maggard, chose to join the United States Army.

This is what led me and my husband to stand at Fort Benning with Barbara Maggard, a proud army wife and mom who has also served in the armed forces. This time we honored her son whose paternal grandmother, also there, served in the Army Nurse Corps in the 1950's. Both of young Maggard's grandfathers also served in the military as did uncles. The sun couldn't outshine the legacy of family pride that glowed in the face and stature of PFC Maggard, now another gallant member of the U.S. infantry and the new greatest generation.

I asked Barbara that if with all she knew of military life, strain, and sacrifice, if she or her husband either one had tried to talk their son out of joining the armed forces. Of course, I already knew the answer. "No," she said. "This is something he's always said from a child he wanted to do. He's at a place to make his own decisions. His dad and I will support him as he asks."

I ask PFC Maggard if he had any reservations at all, and of course I knew that answer.

"No ma'am. I'm proud to serve my country. I can think of nothing better. There's an enemy we have to help the Iraqi people defeat. Our nation's at risk. I just want to get to Iraq while my dad is still there."

For now, Barbara remains in Alaska with her daughter. We are all blessed to have those like her husband and son, volunteers of the less than one percent of our nation's population, to stand the lines to protect us from an enemy that swears to destroy our civilization.

In a message from her two days ago I learned that Barbara's son is now at Fort Bragg preparing to leave for Iraq within ten days. His dad, a leader our son looked up to and who we are thankful to for allowing us to become part of his family, has been extended in Iraq and awaits his son's arrival. I asked Barbara what she thought about the extension. She says that after over twenty years as a military wife, not counting the years she served, she's learned its part of the job. "It's who we are. There's pride in serving our country. I wouldn't have it any other way."

I agreed, saying that when I was an active duty wife I would tell young wives during our husbands' deployments, "hey, you know who and what you married, pull the boot straps up, be the woman they need."

When I ask her about plans for retirement, Barbara said she and her husband, a college graduate who after the military wants to teach, would like to live near Fort Benning. With that, I couldn't think of anything else that would make me happier, because we're more than family, we're a military family bonded for the rest of our lives through love, dedication, courage, sacrifice, and pride in a lifestyle few will ever understand.

By Deborah Tainsh
Copyright 2007

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