Sunday, March 11, 2007

Darrel Kasson remembered

Lori Kasson wasn't at home last week when men in military uniforms knocked on the front door of her family's house in Florence. Her teenage son answered.

"I was at a friend's," Lori said. "I got a call telling me that the Army had come by and that something might be wrong. So I rushed home. The soldiers came back when I got there. My son . . . well, he went into another room. He didn't want to hear it."

Lori's husband, Arizona National Guard Staff Sgt. Darrel Kasson, had been killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq. He was the 100th person with connections to Arizona to die in Iraq or Afghanistan.

"I knew it," Lori said. "There's only one reason why men in uniform come to your door."

Lori met Darrel when she was 13 and he was 14. They grew up near one another in Tucson. They dated all through high school. Shortly after Lori graduated, they got married.

"I was only 18 but no one in my family was worried," she said. "By then he was like another one of my mom's kids. We all just got along so well."

The young couple figured on living in Tucson forever. Darrel had learned the carpenter's trade from his father and grandfather, and he could do all manner of handiwork.

"In 1987 or so, he got laid off from a job," Lori said. "We had a friend who was in the National Guard and he talked to Darrel about it, and we thought that it would be a good thing for him to join. At the time, we had one child and I was pregnant with another."

Eventually, they would have three children: Lisa, now 22, Jeremy, 19, and Dale, 15. There are two grandchildren as well.

Not long after Darrel joined the Guard, he took a job with the Arizona Department of Corrections, and the family moved to Florence so he would be close to his work.

"At the prison he didn't have to worry about getting laid off," Lori said. "There was job security. He wanted to take care of his family, to make sure we had everything that we needed. That's what he worked and prayed for. That's the kind of person he was."

We rely on people like Kasson to do our toughest jobs, to fight our wars, to protect us from criminals. They work long hours. They care for their families. They go to church. It's all they ask of God. They don't expect more.

"He wasn't too happy to be deployed, but he felt like if this was the way it had to be, then fine," Lori said. "He was in charge of nine other people. He used to say that he wasn't so concerned about himself because he had the Lord on his side. But those other people were important to him. He wanted to make sure they were safe. That was his big worry."

The couple spoke to one another occasionally by telephone. Three or four weeks ago, Darrel told Lori that he had had a close call.

"He was on a mission and they drove right over an IED (improvised explosive device)," she said. "He got a upset. He told me, 'Gosh, if something happened I might not see you again.' We talked about it and we prayed about it."

They spoke again just before his last mission.

"He had a bad feeling about this one," Lori said. "He was nervous. So we decided to put it all on God's shoulders."

Last year, Lori and Darrel went looking for property around the Show Low area. Darrel, who was only 43, planned to retire from the DOC in a few years. The two of them then hoped to sell their place in Florence and move to the White Mountains, where they vacationed each June on their wedding anniversary.

"I won't go there now," Lori said.

From the Republic

Related Link:
Darrel Kasson dies of injuries from I.E.D.