One of the women whom I visit teach has son who is in the Air Force. He was deployed at the beginning of December, 2009, to Afghanistan. Although in the AF, he is a recon officer and, thus, on the ground with the Army troops. He calls in air support when they are under fire or need help.
On January 3rd, while on foot patrol, he was injured by an IED. Four others died from the blast. He was taken to surgery to remove an eye, repair injuries to the other eye, repair a fractured skull, a broken jaw, and to remove shrapnel - some of which was near major arteries. Once stable, he was flown to Germany where he underwent further surgery to remove additional shrapnel and debris and to try and save the other eye. After his brief stay in Germany, he was transferred to Walter Reed hospital in Washington D.C.
While the prognosis to ever regain sight in his remaining eye was bleak, the doctors and surgeons have continued to fight to save his vision. Today was the final effort to save his eye. We just received word that the surgery was a failure.This young man will be blind for the remainder of his time on this Earth.
When I first learned of my new assignment as this woman's visiting teacher, her son had just received his orders to deploy overseas. I looked at Allen and asked, "How will I support her if her son doesn't come home?" As her visiting teacher and fellow follower of Christ, I have made the covenant to "mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those who stand in need of comfort" (Mosiah 18:9). I can honestly say, I have mourned for the loss of his sight, for the heart ache this mom felt as she was thousands of miles away from her child not knowing if he had an advocate at his side for the most terrifying hours of his life, for the new challenges that will face this family, for the sorrow they must feel to see their young son face such a daunting new future.
In the same passing of thought, I have had my heart swell with pride to know this valiant young man. He followed his passion and his convictions, willing to give even his life in the fight for freedom, even for those he had never met. He paid a high price. Those who have been with him say he has had an attitude of determination and optimism. He has not allowed even a bit of self pity to creep into this part of his journey.
The freedoms we enjoy have been won on the backs of our youth. Young men who fought to begin this blessed nation. Young men who were willing to die to ensure that the color of skin did not determine your status in this life. Young men who were brave enough to go to slaughter to stop a mad man from killing millions. Young men who stepped up, in the face of ugly controversy, to try and free an entire people from oppression. As time marched on, young men and, now, women who see injustice in the world and want better for not only this nation, but globally. In their youth, they are not afraid to make hard choices and take a side that they believe in. They are honored to put their lives on the line as part of that choice.
I feel very grateful to Michael Malarsie and those who have gone before to keep me and my own safe. His family has authored a blog to document his service to our country and the unfolding story of his recovery. You can visit Michael's Blog to read about this amazing youth. He truly is a hero.
God bless our troops.