My dad's death is one of the defining moments of my life, despite the fact that I was an infant when it happened. I think about my dad every day and I was felt this pull in my heart ever since I can remember to honor and get to know my dad by finding out the truth about how he died. The search has been a lifelong one, and will continue. It has included moments of triumph and moments of extreme grief. While I don't know that I will ever be able to write one cohesive account of what my dad saw on Valentine's Ridge, I know that I am now, thanks to numerous veterans and research, closer to the truth than before.
Vietnam Veterans Welcome Parade
My husband Eric has always been a part of the search. He gifted me a scrapbook with pictures and letters from my dad. He has contacted source after source to help me find answers. In 1986, he went with me to Chicago for the Vietnam Veterans Welcome Parade.
Eric and I were married, after ____ years of dating, on ______. He is my high school sweetheart, my best friend, and the love of my life. Eric has continued to be an integral part of the search, standing by me in the hardest moments and asking the questions I didn't know how to say.
Eric's design for a Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Marion, Indiana, my dad's hometown, won a contest and was unveiled on Veterans' Day. The memorial is made of a seven foot tall slab of black cherry granite and is designed to look like a slice of the Wall in Washington D.C..
Eric and I were married on December 19, 1987, after five years of dating. He is my high school sweetheart, my best friend, and the love of my life. He has continued to be an integral part of the search, standing by me during the hardest moments and asking the questions I don't know how to.
Grieving Times Two
A man named Bill told me a horrific, untrue story about my dad hanging from a tree, shot between the eyes. My third son, Colton, was born with Down Syndrome and autism. A man named Dr. Jerry Behrens confirmed that my dad was really was dead.
Dr. Jerry Behrens
Jerry was an orthopedic surgeon living in Casper, Wyoming when he first came into my life. Jerry knew my dad in Vietnam, and spoke amazing words about who my dad was and his ambitions. Jerry would become one of my most treasured friends and a crucial part of my search.
Our Five Kids
Eric and I's fifth and final child arrived in January 2000. Altogether, we have four boys and one girl: Christopher Eric, Cody Lawrence, Colton Michael, Courtnee Jo, and Casey Jordan.
Kilo 3/9 Reunion
While I felt conflicted about leaving my kids to go to the reunion, Eric surprised me with plane tickets. The reunion was incredible. I got to hear so many stories and I met veterans who would become partners in my search and friends in my life. Most importantly, I met someone who was near my dad when he died: Richard Foster.
Dr. Lori Goss-Reaves
I earned my doctorate degree in part for me, but mostly for my dad. He had always wanted to become a doctor, and while I am certainly not gifted as a medical doctor, I wanted to earn this degree for my dad, to achieve a dream for him that he never got to complete.
The man my mom suggested I try to find. My dad's corps school friend. Stan told me story after story about his time with my dad and their quirky friendship, like the time my dad tried to give Stan his academic coin. Stan helped me learn more about my amazing dad.