Saying Good-bye to A Son Going to War

Please note: My son returned alive and whole, thank God, from his tour of duty in Afghanistan July of 2010. This Hub was written November 2009.

Dec. 14, 2009

We just celebrated Thanksgiving without my son, we’ll celebrate Christmas without him too. He sent these photos and I hesitated sharing them because I was too emotional to put them up. I miss him. I miss him and sometimes fight the fear that rises in my throat when I think of him in Afghanistan. His beautiful young wife misses him as well. His little baby girl Kaylee was only a month old when he left. She’ll be over a year old when he returns - God willing.

This is where my son sleeps. His “bedroom” is the one with the Red Wings flag.

Please think of him this Christmas and Chanukah. Think of my son Alex, my daughter’s boyfriend Erik, and Dave’s son Dustin. They sacrifice so that we can be free.

Dave is a friend, someone who works with my husband. He wrote this after he said good-bye to his son Dustin who is going off to war.

My Son . . .

By Dave Dunckel

Today at 20:51

My son went off to war today.

I talked to him for a minute right before he got on the plane. He inadvertently told me where he was flying out of, and then we both realized that Operational Security – OPSEC – demanded that he probably should keep the details to a minimum. “Maybe I shouldn’t have told you that,” he said. “Probably not,” I told him. I asked him to be careful – to keep his head down. I told him that I loved him. He said he loved me too, and then he said goodbye. He asked me to call his wife. “She’s a wreck,” he said.

When I hung up I found it a little hard to breathe. My lungs felt like they were filled with spider webs and a slow and heavy weight pushed down upon my shoulders. I fought the tears by inhaling sharply and exhaling just as hard. Short, quick breaths. I recalled the feeling that I had the first time that I saw him drive a car; I had confidence in his abilities . . . I knew it was inevitable that he someday take the wheel . . . and I knew that driving was much more dangerous than it seemed. I pushed back my emotions and I called his wife, Caitlin. I told her that we loved her. I told her that she had stepped into a pretty demanding role, and that she was feeling the same thing that women have felt for thousands of years. I told her that she would look back on this day and it would be just that – a memory. The time would pass, and in one year he’d be home.

The last time he left was not as bad, for I was going too. We were never closer than 30 miles away from each other, but somehow being in Iraq the same time as him made me feel much less fearful and a whole lot closer. The first time he left was not as bad, either. The war was young and both of us were filled with the excitement that comes from being part of the spearhead, part of the force that was going to wrap this up in a few weeks or months. This time is different. This time, we both know better.

Dustin is going back to a place where he lost his best friend, and then his next best friend. He is going back to a place where he spent a thousand hours walking on patrols and waiting for the sound of gunfire. He is going back to a place that claimed over half of the men who appear with him in a photograph that I keep framed on my desk. He has none of the delusional optimism of a politician; none of the sense of invincibility that accompanies a Soldier who has not seen combat, and none of the sense of adventure that grips those who sit on the couch and watch as the war unfolds on the evening news. He knows that at best, he is in for a long and slogging fight.

He also knows that he is doing this so others do not have to. He has paid his dues, but he will do so again and again because he has chosen the life of an Infantryman. He is not a parade-type patriot. You won’t see him waving a flag or threatening someone who threatens to burn one. He shows his patriotism in his deeds and actions, and the flag he flies is affixed to his right sleeve right below the shoulder. He may not agree with the fight, but he fights because he knows it is not his choice to agree or not. He leaves those decisions up to those he fights for.

I am proud of my son, and know how hard it is for him to do this one more time. Keep him in your prayers, and thank the good Lord that men like him exist.

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Comments 40 comments

Hmrjmr1 profile image

Hmrjmr1 7 years ago from Georgia, USA

cjv123 - Your son, your family, as are all our sons so far away remain in my prayers, God Bless and his speed on their duty and may they come home safe to their families and their countries loving arms.

eovery profile image

eovery 7 years ago from MIddle of the Boondocks of Iowa

I know it is hard. God bless, I thank you and your son for his service.

Keep on hubbing!

readytoescape profile image

readytoescape 7 years ago from Central Florida


My wife and I have done that seven times now, number 8 is supposed to be sometime in the next two months. Each time we have felt the things both you and Dave express. But the other is sheer pride in the men we have raised.

As fearful as we are of the what if's, we are certain of their capabilites as soldiers. And just as assured of their convictions. Showing them any less, is to not recognize the men they have become, lives the have chosen to protect and only see the boys we guided as they grew up.

You have train your heart as hard as they train their minds and bodies. As Military Families we are all fighting the war, they do it on the front line in harms way, we do it by supporting them without fear. When, and if, you get that combat zone phone call from him do you want him to feel and listen to your despair, or do you want to talk to your son, find out how he is, lift his spirits if he low,or laugh with him when he's happy.

Remember he is doing a job he wants to do, is trained to do, and equipped to do, and he does it so the others he loves won't have too.

breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 7 years ago

Dear cjv,

My heart is heavy and my eyes are filled with tears. I will keep your son in my prayers and your friend's son, as well as all the brave men and women who are fighting for us. Dave's words moved me to my core. God Bless All Of You. I pray for their safe return.

ehern33 profile image

ehern33 7 years ago

CJV, I cannot elaborate more on this than what has already been said. What I will say is that we will pray for the safety of your son and every brave soul that willingly protects us all. God Bless you and our Military men, and a very Merry Christmas.

cjv123 profile image

cjv123 7 years ago from Michigan Author

Hey Pop - I don't weep and go around weeping - that's why I write it - I get many of my emotions out. It's cathartic -in a manner of speaking. But of course, I thank you for your heart-felt words. You are a treasure.

cjv123 profile image

cjv123 7 years ago from Michigan Author

ehern - thank you for being so faithful to comment with such encouraging words. You are a blessing as are many of my "friends" here on Hub pages. Thanks so much for taking time to give your support.

cjv123 profile image

cjv123 7 years ago from Michigan Author

Hmrjmr - thank you so very much - you would know how much it means to a soldier and a family member of a soldier - for your support! God bless you!

cjv123 profile image

cjv123 7 years ago from Michigan Author

Evory - you are very sweet and kind to offer words of support - thank you!

cjv123 profile image

cjv123 7 years ago from Michigan Author

Dear Readytoescape -Not to worry - my son only hears cheer on my end when he calls. He doesn't read my Hub - he doesn't have time to do anything - he hasn't taken a shower in a month and probably hasn't slept that long.

I vent here - he doesn't know it - and he knows as an Army wife of 30 years - I know the deal - I just like to vent here!

Thanks for your comments!

lovegg profile image

lovegg 7 years ago

Have a nice day!

Army Infantry Mom profile image

Army Infantry Mom 7 years ago

My heart thoughts and prayers are Always with you and your son. Ya know if the days ever get to rough for you,..we'd glad to have ya around in the chat room over at I swear if it weren't for them, I wouldn't of made it through my boys deployment. Keep beliving in that thing called Faith,.. Its amzing how far it will bring you. Big Hugs !!!

P.S. How is carepackages going fo him ? I have resourses that can get some sent over to him. Just let me know if I can help in anyway. Military Moms stick together !!!

cjv123 profile image

cjv123 7 years ago from Michigan Author

Hey Army Infantry Mom - you're a doll - thank you for all of the invites and I KNOW you know what I face and of course, what my son's wife faces.

The carepackages are doing very well. My church sent a bunch of packages - we have a huge church - and they worked so hard to send numerous boxes out to my son's unit.

So far so good - but I will definitely let you know if there is a need. And thank you for your generous offer - yes, we Mom's need to stick together!

God bless you Lady - and have a Merry Christmas and wonderful New Year!!

thevoice profile image

thevoice 7 years ago from carthage ill

great article this feed site allows for better reading

Dawn 7 years ago

Well said Dave. I just said goodbye to my nephew. I have always been so close to him and it was the hardest thing ever. I was a wreck when we talked. He is planning on calling me just before he gets on the plane. I will take you advice and be stong and send him off with the support he needs. I am confident in his abilities and know he is heading out to do a job that he is well trained for.

frogyfish profile image

frogyfish 6 years ago from Central United States of America

I join you in your pride and sorrow. And prayers too. My grandson was 'there' a year and will evidently be going back next year. For whatever reasons our heros have to go...we should support them in every way possible. Thank you for sharing your heart - and hope!

MFB III profile image

MFB III 6 years ago from United States

Echoes Of War, Centuries Of Grief.

To all those tiny waifs, faces upturned

their eyes so new to absence, moist with tears

girls holding tight with trembling lips

young lads who clung with earnest grips

upon their Daddies legs refusing to let go

then wailing with dismay at his goodbyes.

Through out the centuries war has been a blight

their crying caught in check when his voice spoke

to promise them that he would be back soon

he turned and walked away to fight a war

then vanished in the smoke and flames unleashed.

I speak for precious children left behind

his promise lives, someday you'll be rejoined

beyond the dust of graves...and Dads denied.

To all the Moms, and Dads who gave much more

then any cause should ask of them to give

this boy they nurtured, smiling as he grew

then frowning as the war drums banged their toll.

Their dreams for sons did not include a trip

to battle zones, to risk both life, and limb

but patriots they touched his uniform

they kissed his cheek, and hugged him one more time

then sent him whole, and healthy off to fight.

But got back telegrams...and body bags

some shiny medals, and some folded flags

plus monstrous gaping holes left in their souls

wherein echoed the words of his farewell....

"Don't worry Mom and Dad, I'll see you soon."

and in a sense his words they still ring true

for when his parent's hearts they cease to ache

they'll find him standing tall at heavens gate

awaiting their return, so patiently

he'll welcome them at last, forever home.

To all those wives who watched their vows dissolve

much earlier then they could ever fathom

by shrapnel, bullets, bayonets, and swords

"Death did them part..." upon some foreign shore

each marriage formed ironic parallels.

Your husbands "marched down aisles"...then off to war

know that your husbands left for "Honor" too

they "Cherished" their homeland, both "rich and poor"

in "Sickness, and in health" sworn to defend

"For better, or for worse" they stood their ground.

"United as one" each platoon advanced

on bended knees they fell for sacred vows.

And know that in their final, ragged breath

they whispered your names with great reverence

your last kiss lingered sweetly on their lips

your memories cradled them to paradise

where someday God again will join your hands

renewing love that "NONE" will put asunder

and "Thank You" for your greatest sacrifice.

To all young men who gave up hopes for love,

young saplings caught by thunder from above,

those tall and strong who faced wars cruelest winds,

when I.E.D.s and bombs removed their limbs.

Sent home to sit as veterans alone,

just trunks with souls, in wards where love's postponed,

or burned in fiery blasts that scorched their skin,

beyond all hopes of passion, wallowing in,

wheelchairs to watch the pretty nurses tend,

the kind of wounds society can't mend.

They gave up wives, or lovers and remain,

an object women pity, but refrain,

from ever viewing as someone to love,

destroying all the joys that men dream of.

I've walked the rows of beds where these men lay,

And seen despair across each face convey,

the wish that they could all be whole like me,

They faced the fall, as wartime stole their leaves,

to come back home, and find love that relieves,

the pains of being maimed, for them I grieve.

More than even those who died, this I believe,

for I have arms to hold, and legs to dance,

and all my parts to share in sweet romance,

but they have single beds where they will be,

sad victims most folks never want to see.

To all brave men who fought ...these words salute

Brothers-in-arms who stood answering the call

who lost their friends to crippling, sudden blasts

or choked on nerve, or blood, or mustard gas

as well as victims crushed by Agent Orange.

The years "still" stake their claim, the death tolls rise

to those who lost their limbs, and normal lives

or fell to drugs, disease, or suicides.

To all who faced the British musket balls

and those who fought for union in our land

all those who sat entrenched against the Huns

or belly crawled through sands at Normandy

or scaled the lava crusts of Iwo Jima

or shivered in the Chosin Reservoir

or night patrolled jungles in Vietnam

or faced the toxic winds of Desert storm

or fell in flames on mountains of Afghan

or took the bullet's puncture in Iraq.

Each year we send out more who don't come back

this poem's for you, your brothers yearky gather,

to guarantee you'll never be forgotten

and when at last they "Fall out" from this life

they'll join your ranks, "At Ease" on heaven's shores

in glory, honored, peace at long last granted

free from the pains of war forevermore.

To all prisoners of war...and M.I.A.'s

I offer you these humble words, and song

our hopes for your return...they slip away

for you've remained in limbo far too long

unknown the place you fell, but still we care

you haunt our thoughts, this is our solemn prayer

"As long as there are men who have a voice

recovery teams will search, it is our choice

as veterans we always must demand

a true accounting brought for every man.

Return the fallen, here to their homeland

for them anything would be wrong

I close now with my old familiar song...

the lyrics that I wrote to sing with..(Taps)

"Rest in Peace....

Brave young men

free from sorrow,

and pain....battle spent

from your humble graves, so alone

We shall come...

and we'll carry you....Home."

cjv123 profile image

cjv123 6 years ago from Michigan Author

Thank you MFB III - now this is something we can find common ground on. Lovely tribute.

skgrao profile image

skgrao 6 years ago from Bangalore City - INDIA.

Let your son come back with the blessings of our

Lord Sri Rama who killed Ravana.

The Govt of USA must know that they are fighting a war half heartedly.

amafam6 6 years ago

Mine leaves Monday.. I'm not happy. But I am content in the knowledge that he's a smart man. He say's he'll keep his butt low and his head lower. I'm so grateful I know it's him thats protecting our way of life.

cjv123 profile image

cjv123 6 years ago from Michigan Author

Thank you skgrao - he is back and I think God for it. Thank you for your kind comments. I'm sorry I have taken so long in thanking you for leaving your comments. I somehow thought I had answered you.

cjv123 profile image

cjv123 6 years ago from Michigan Author

amafam6 - I've been on back-to-back vacations - plus my Macbook went belly up. Anyway- please tell your son that I thank him and God for his service and I will pray for him to return home safely. My God bless you both until he safely returns.

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unfazednsultry 6 years ago

My son left for Afghanistan last night and i know every knock that comes to my door i will be beside myself.He has been in the army 1 yr and i use to read about all these young men going and i didn't believe it as i feel they should at least be in the forces 2 or 3 years before sending them to places like this.He has just started having a life hes only 20.He hasn't been on a boys holiday,what are they thinking!Im so proud of him but scared too.

cjv123 profile image

cjv123 6 years ago from Michigan Author

I will offer you (I hope) some comfort. You son is not alone unfazednsultry. He's with his while unit and they DO watch each other's back. He's trained better than you think, and he's surrounded (literally) by a bunch of other trained warriors. I will add your son to my prayers. If you want to contact me, my email is

And now that you have Petraus involved - you have a super soldier who is looking out for your son too.

I know how you feel. God bless you and your son.

Scott 6 years ago

Thank you for your letter, My son leaves for Afgan. in March not sure how to handle it. Its hard to think about what he must be thinking as Christmas nears.

Thank your hero for me

cjv123 profile image

cjv123 6 years ago from Michigan Author

Scott - my heart goes out to you. And please, thank your hero for me. What would we do, where would our nation be without these selfless heroes?

Thank you for leaving your comment - and may God bless you and your son.

debbie 6 years ago

my friends son was killed on nov. 29th in afghanistan....he was only 24 with a wife and 15 month old son...please pray for Pfc. Buddy McLain's in peace Buddy

cjv123 profile image

cjv123 6 years ago from Michigan Author

Debbie - I'm so sorry about your friend's loss and your loss. It breaks my heart to hear such news and brings tears to my eyes. I will pray for the family of a hero. I will pray for Pfc Buddy McLain's family.

Thank you for leaving your comments. May God bless you.


sheila christian 6 years ago

mom don't want to say goodby son; mom just wants to say gome home.. love you c.j. sheila/mom

cjv123 profile image

cjv123 6 years ago from Michigan Author

That's true Sheila! Thanks for your comments.

Michaela 6 years ago

i know how you feel my brother is going on deployment in a couple days its the hardest thing to go threw. not only my brother but your son will be in my prayers too

cjv123 profile image

cjv123 6 years ago from Michigan Author

Michaela - my son has returned and I thank God for that. But I will keep your brother in my prayers. I will pray that he too comes back alive and whole in body and spirit. Thank you for leaving your comments. And my God bless you and keep you as you wait for his return.

Richard Miller 5 years ago

Our son n law will be leaving this month, February, to go to Kandahar. I felt I needed to write him a letter letting him know that we love him. My wife went to Iraq in 06, our son has been to Iraq twice. I'm feeling worried that my luck will not hold. It's tough being a dad, no one expects me to think about things or get emotional. I saw these comments and feel they have given me the strength to say what needs to be said. Thank you

cjv123 profile image

cjv123 5 years ago from Michigan Author

Oh Richard, my heart goes out to you! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your emotional turmoil. You're right - we tend to expect the emotion from women, but not the men. If you could - what is the first name of your son-in-law? I will keep him in my prayers until he returns. I'll also add him to a prayer request list we have in our church. Our son-in-law will be going to Afghanistan as well - we just don't know the exact date yet. My son went as you know and also my husband. I will keep you all in my prayers. I'm honored you came here to express your feelings.

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Mariann412 4 years ago

My only son will be leaving in May for Afganistan. This time last year he was getting ready to leave for basic. The closer it gets to May, the larger the lump in my throat gets. I know I need to stay strong for him and not let him see my worries. Please keep my son Eric in your prayers and for his safe return along with all of the other heros.

cjv123 profile image

cjv123 4 years ago from Michigan Author

Our new son-in-law is named Erik - with a "k" and he will be deploying before the holidays. Having had a son and a husband there as well - I know how you feel. It will be easy to remember to pray for your son. Please feel free to write to me any time and to let me know when he safely returns.

May God bless you and give you His peace and strength and may He keep your son safe the entire time he is deployed.

Mariann412 4 years ago

Our son Eric has begun his voyage home and should hopefully be back with us within the next couple of weeks. It has been a hard deployment for me. I can't wait to see him again. Thank you for your prayers not only for my son but for all of our heros.

cjv123 profile image

cjv123 4 years ago from Michigan Author

Mariann - thank you so much for keeping me posted. Our son-in-law Erik isn't expected home from Afghanistan until June or possibly July. I know that feeling though when your son begins his trip home. My son Alex, the one I wrote about here - began his over the 4th of July weekend. We always go up north to visit my mother-in-law and were in the middle of the 4th of July activities when my daughter-in-law text messaged that "Alex was on American soil." I just burst into tears (and it takes A LOT to make me cry). I didn't realize how pent up I was about the whole thing. I rejoice with you and again thank you for keeping me posted!

West Point 2 years ago

Thank you everyone for your thoughts shared. I have three sons, all recent graduates from West Point. My eldest departs for his second tour back to Afghanistan-an Apache Pilot and now a Captain 7/19/14. My two other sons are on American soil. A father's tears are very real.

cjv123 profile image

cjv123 2 years ago from Michigan Author

Please thank them for their service and I will keep all your sons in my prayers. Please come back and update us.

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