Visiting a fallen brother

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Visiting a fallen brother

It's not the fault of reporters, but it's tough to get an emotional response when you see someone has fallen overseas.  Clearly you feel bad, and clearly you mourn for the family and friends, but you don't get to see the actual hero.  

Look at this report from the AP from 2005:

A Marine from Merrimack was among 31 U.S. servicemen killed in a helicopter crash during a sandstorm in Iraq.

Family members said Cpl. Timothy Gibson, 23, was on the transport helicopter when it crashed in western Iraq, killing 30 Marines and one Navy medic in the deadliest day for U.S. forces since the war began.

The death toll was the largest for a U.S. aircraft crash in Iraq since U.S. forces invaded in March 2003. Like most of the crash victims, Gibson had been deployed from the Marine Corps base at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.

The helicopter went down about 1:20 a.m. Wednesday, about 220 miles west of Baghdad, according to a military statement. The Pentagon said it would not release information about the victims until all families had been notified.

Gibson is the seventh New Hampshire soldier killed during the conflict. He was a 2000 graduate of Merrimack High School, where he played football and baseball.

“He said that he thought he was doing good and that he was helping people, but it was different than anything he could have expected,” Gibson’s mother, Elaine, said Thursday.

This weekend, I got a chance to visit with Cpl. Gibson, albeit just with his gravesite.  But it was nice to visit, and hear stories about him from his best friend in the Marine Corps, and his best friend from High School.  

As many of you know, I went on a rafting trip with wounded marines this summer into the grand canyon.  I had to finish up interviews for the piece, so it can run in the magazine, and rather than do two seperate interviews and two seperate trips for myself and the videographer, we brought one marine from Ohio to meet us in New Hampshire to do the interview.  As fate would have it, his best friend in the Marine Corps was Tim Gibson, who was buried right there in Merrimack, not far from the Legion Post that annually holds a softball tournament in his honor.

Some of Tim's friends from High School met us out, and though I will never "meet" CPL Gibson, I kind of got to know him through them.

This morning my buddy shared a video of Tim.  He's the first guy in this video:

It was also fortuitous that the anniversary of Tim's death was the week we were visiting, although we ended up in NH two days longer than any of us wanted thanks to the blizzard which shut down seemingly every flight across the country.

Either way, it was nice not just to meet CPL Gibson, but to know that each year at The American Legion, Post 98, Merrimack New Hampshire throws a softball tournament so others can meet him too.

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News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.