Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Perspective: After the pain of loss in Iraq, some families are dealt a second blow

David J. Salie dies at the age of 34

My husband was certain that he was going to die in Iraq.

Sgt. 1st Class David J. Salie had been an American soldier for almost 17 years. He'd deployed many times, and he'd been to war before. He'd parachuted into Panama with the 82nd Airborne Division, served in the Gulf War and gone to Haiti with the 25th Infantry Division. But he'd never been so certain that he was going to die that he prepared for death.

David told me that he wouldn't be coming back. I didn't believe him. I felt that he was just under so much stress thinking of our children and me, and about the 40 soldiers in his platoon who were his responsibility.

In the month before he left for Iraq with B Company, 2nd of the 69th Armor, 3rd Infantry Division, David went over his will with a fine-toothed comb, and he checked out his Survivor's Group Life Insurance, which provides protection for military people.

David even gave away some of his personal belongings. He also checked on the death benefits that a soldier's family receives.

My husband came home and proudly announced that if he died in Iraq, his family would be taken care of. I tried to tell him that he shouldn't worry about things like that. He said that every soldier going to war worries about his family and wants to make sure that if he's killed, his family will be taken care of just as they would be if he were still alive.

We were "all squared away," David told me.

I wish I could say that he was wrong about dying and right about the rest of it. Instead, he was correct in his premonition about his own death, but wrong in his belief that we were "squared away."

Read the rest at the Sun Herald