The Washington Post
February 11, 2013

Four months ago, my wife, Donna, was killed in Afghanistan. She was 29 when she and two other soldiers from her unit became the victims of a suicide bomber. Thursday, Valentine’s Day, would have been our first anniversary. I am sharing our story partly to memorialize Donna — but also in the hopes that other families won’t have to go through what I did. Donna and I met 6 1/2 years ago. Two proud Americans who wanted to serve our country, I was stationed at Fort Bragg and Donna soon joined the North Carolina National Guard. Before we knew it, we were deeply in love. People say that when you know, you know. Donna and I just knew. We shared the same vision of life, love and happiness. We wanted to share life’s joys and adventures and sorrows. We intended to grow old together. We couldn’t imagine life without each other, so after “don’t ask, don’t tell” was repealed, we got married. Usually, widowed spouses are personally informed by a casualty officer and provided with grief counseling. They are invited to meet the casket as it is returned to American soil. Later, during the funeral service, they are ceremonially presented with the flag that covered their loved one’s coffin.