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RELECTION ON TWO YEARS

Posted by John on April 25, 2014

Lieutenant Christopher Mosko, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 3, Special Operations, Navy
That is just part of who my son was. He was also a brother, a husband, a friend, a team mate, a leader and a follower. He was a better “learner” than me and hence was a much better teacher.

Chris may have commissioned into the Navy in 2007 but he mentally joined the Navy at the age of 6 when he saw the Midshipmen at the Army Navy game. He said he wanted to be one of them. Then, every step he took somehow led to April 26, 2012 Ghazni Province, Afghanistan. That is when an IED took Chris along with Brandon Eggleston, Dick Lee, and Fibi, the bomb dog. Chris was there to render the IED’s harmless – harmless to the men, women and children who lived and traveled around those eastern Afghani villages.

The awful grief experiences since then are imprinted forever in my memory. How do you forget your wife calling you and telling you “Chris is dead!”? Could you forget the military officers that you do not even know walking up to your door? How do you shake the memory of the repatriation at Dover when they carry those flag draped caskets off the big transport? The list goes on and on for that first year.

The most bittersweet of that first year was Meredith’s wedding. The knowledge of the empty seat he would have filled haunted what was a wonderful, blessed, near perfect day. My faith tells me he was with us – watching and guiding – unseen and unheard but felt by many of us.

But what happens in year 2? The grief is still there. We drive by Dover AFB on a regular basis for time with our friends at the beach. Invariably, there is silence in the car and sometimes the tears come. I am not sure that things have gotten easier as much as we have integrated the grief with good memories. He is an important part of who we are and he left us so many great memories. The pain I still feel is the memories I had hoped to have that will never happen.

One thing I have realized for a long time is that Chris connected to people in ways that made him a natural friend, leader, and confidante. I have reached out to collect the stories that were the fiber in the fabric of Chris’ life. I want to learn and capture who the complete person Chris was. Due to working for his uncle Mike, Chris really had not lived at “home” since he was about 18.

Our journey will continue. Chris would not want us to just move on. He would want us to challenge ourselves. He would want us to move forward toward a goal. He would want us to be better tomorrow than we are today. And he would goad us and push us with his smile and his laugh. When we achieved that goal, he would say “well, what is next?”

Getting together and having a toast to remember and honor him is OK. But it is not sufficient. We need to challenge ourselves. We need to do random acts of kindness. We need to go out of our way to help others. We need to make others smile.

That is what Chris would have wanted.

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Happy Memorial Day? I think not.

Posted by John on May 23, 2013

Proudly holding the American Flag

Special thanks to

Navy EOD MU3 (PLT381 in partic

Army Special Forces Command(Airborne) (ODA3423 in particular)ular)

Over the years, Memorial Day has been so many different things. It was the holiday that was the gateway to the summer. It was bicycle races in Somerville. It was picnics at the Martins. But, thanks to Dad, it was always a day where we thought about the men and women in uniform who have sacrificed. There were the parades and the visits to services at cemeteries or monuments where those who fell in war were remembered. And maybe because of this, Chris and Poppi always had a special bond and respect for each other.    We remember.

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The past one year, one month, and one day (as of Memorial Day 2013) has been a repetition of memorial days. The day was set aside as a time of reflection for our nation to remember, respect and honor those who gave their lives so that others may live. Every single day since 17:15 hours EST April 26, 2012 – the moment we knew – I have done nothing but remember, respect, honor and …… grieve. About 14 hours before that, Chris, Dick, and Brandon along with Fibi, the bomb dog, were hit by an IED on some dirt road in Eastern Afghanistan and gave their lives in service to their country. Then in August, Sean was added to that list. While only a few of the names have personal meaning to me, each name on the list has someone like me looking at it and remembering.

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But Memorial Day is now filled with the knowledge and subsequent anxiety of knowing there are many others still in harm’s way protecting our way of life as well as just protecting locals in Afghanistan, East Africa and other international hotspots. I know some of their names and I know some of their loved ones. So while I remember Chris and the others who have died, I will be praying for each and every man and woman who stands up and offers to serve their country knowing the potential dangers they could face.

So, by all means, this Memorial Day, please remember those who have died in service to their country. It is important that we not forget the people they were, who they loved, what they stood for and grasp the potential that was lost when each of them was taken from us.

More importantly, do something that remembers and honors the living. The men and women who are active in our services today deserve our respect and support. Those who come back injured, physically or emotionally, deserve our respect, our attention and our support. And, finally, the spouses, parents, siblings, and those close to the fallen need and deserve our respect and compassion as they face this day which means so much more to each of them due to what they have lost.o, by all means, this Memorial Day, please remember those who have died in service to their country. It is important that we not forget the people they were, who they loved, what they stood for and grasp the potential that was lost when each of them was taken from us.

May God watch over and bless all of our Armed Services and their families this Memorial Day.

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Hooyah, EOD Techs  LT. Chris Mosko and PO 1st Class Sean Carson!

Hooah Staff Sgt. Brandon Eagleston and Staff Sgt. Dick Lee!

A grateful nation honors and remembers you for your sacrifice!

And our hearts and prayers are with your families for their sacrifice!

We Remember!

John Mosko  23 May 2013

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Another trip around the sun

Posted by John on April 26, 2013

One year ago, the last time I spoke with Chris, it was all about the future and the plans he had for life.  As I face today, one year from that terrible, horrible day learning of his death to an IED in Afghanistan, that conversation is fresh and treasured memory. Time has not changed the hole that was left in my heart and my life and I have learned to pour memories into the hole and let them flow through the empty space.  Now, instead of a hole, I have a conduit to him.

What is important to my now and my future:

1. Love of family – Being able to spend time with my family remembering him and the little things about his life.  Gayle, Amanda, Meredith, Nate – you mean the world to me.

2.  Love of friends –  those who have stood next to us each step of the  way with no questions or criticisms, giving us the emotional support to keep going on those days when we did not want to even think about a next step.  Those who have become friends through our common grief are also a strong part of our life.

3. Pictures –  almost every picture shows him with a smile and most have him with someone he loved and cared about – and I cherish every one.

4.  The stories and experiences of those with him through life as he prepared for and then eventually deployed.  Soccer teams, school mates, UPenn ROTC, EOD MU3, Army ODA unit. – thank you all for your stories.  To those who have and continue to go into harms way, thank you for the burden you bear each day for the rest of us who sleep comfortably each night.

5.  Time – Sometimes alone, sometimes with someone

6.  Purpose – life is just too empty and short without it.  What are the critical projects, causes and ideas I will dedicate myself to going forward?

So, our family has a busy couple weeks here.  A family time to remember and grieve a bit on Friday, a birthday, an anniversary, and a trip to the EOD Memorial where Chris’ name will go up with those who have given their full measure – so a busy time full of emotions – sadness, love, pride.  Our family will mix with the military family and we will honor those from the EOD community who left us this past year and remember those who passed before them.

So, today, April 26, please take a moment to say a prayer and remember a life well lived but far too short.  Be thankful if you were blessed to have known him, his smile and his love for his life, his friends and his family.  And raise a glass and give a big “Hoo Rah, Lieutenant Chris Mosko”.

Some Gave All – Billy Cyrus

“Love your country and live with pride, remember those who died.

America can’t you see”

“All gave some, some gave all.

Some stood true for the red white and blue, and some had to fall.

“So if you ever think of me, think of all your liberties.

And recall that some gave all.”

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Leadership – show’em how its done!

Posted by John on June 20, 2012

“My father didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.”   Clarence B. Kelland

 

Lead Me

No one ever says “boss me” or “manage me.”  People say “Lead me, please!”  

Leadership is different.  It requires active participation in so many ways.  Fathers(and mothers)  are the most important leaders out there.  They set the foundation of the future at the earliest stages.  You think that baby is just babbling – he or she is watching your reaction – are you paying attention are you participating?  If so, they know they are valued. 

But how??

Listen – do you have a commitment to listening with the intent of understanding?  Are you receptive to the message without judging the messenger?  Will you seek to learn and clarify the will of the group?  Do you listen without interrupting?  Are you willing to listen to someone’s rant and look for why they feel that way?  And while you listen, will your non-verbal communication reinforce that you are in fact listening with an open mind?

Envision  – Do you know someone who can balance the need for focus on the immediate needs but also see a great vision of the future?  The story of how executing day to day  connects to a great the future is the tale true leaders weave.  They know the importance of execution but also of placing the brick in the foundation for the future.  Yes, today’s problem can seem overwhelming but we can turn it into a piece of what makes us great and differentiates us.

Be Aware – Are you in touch – with your team, with your family, but most of all, with yourself?  When you dedicate yourself to being aware, you will discover things.  They might be scary but they will lead you to new understanding and new horizons.   Your inner strength will carry you through the scary parts.

Finally, be sure to say “Thank you” for even the small things – better yet, write it.  That will be your legacy.  I recently heard a story of a Senior Chief in Afghanistan who offered a bunk spot to a new Lt. who was passing through the Operations Base.  The Lt. sent him a thank you note.  The Senior Chief said it was the first time in 25 years an officer ever really acknowledged him that way.  So,

Show Gratitude

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Approaching Father’s Day – Joy and Grief

Posted by John on June 7, 2012

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An important part of Father’s Day is having great kids – two of whom I raised and two who were brought to our family as spouses.  Plus I have the kids who are loaned to us from our friends and siblings.  All are great in their own way and have been an important part of our grieving process.

I still have Meredith, my daughter and Amanda, Chris’ wife, and, soon, Nate as a son-in-law.

but I do not have Chris

With six weeks separating me from the shock and the complete devastation of getting the news, I have to say that I fear this Sunday.  Meredith, Amanda, and Nate – please know you mean the world to me and I know Gayle will hold me up through this time but there is something about a father and his son.

You know the saying “Hope for the best and plan for the worst.”  Well, I will not say I never thought this was possible but I certainly did not plan for it.  In fact, I was planning for the best – the day when he would get back, a trip to do some diving together, Meredith’s Wedding, etc.  I did not plan to have a Flag from a “Grateful Nation.”  I did not expect to have a Drexel Dragon in Chris’ honor.  I did not plan to think about what to do with donations and, honestly, I was the last person who I thought would have a letter from the President.  Thanks, but you can have all of them back

So, what will I do this Father’s Day?  Not sure.  I might turn off my cell phone after I talk to Meredith, Amanda and Nate.  Maybe I will go for a bike ride or a run or go sit quietly on a beach.  Probably, I will be thankful for what I have but then grieve more for what I have lost.  Yes, I do have great memories and I see the marvelous potential in each of the kids.  However, I saw such great potential in Chris too and every person who has spoken or written to me about Chris reminds me that even  I underestimated what he would and could be.

So, for Father’s Day, give me the gift of your thoughts and prayers once more:

  • For Amanda who misses Chris more than any of us can fathom
  • For Meredith who lost her brother and friend
  • For Nate as he deals with all of us
  • For Gayle and me as we try to grasp the how of going forward.

Most importantly

For every person in our military, father, son, mother, daughter, friend,   who is spending this day and so many more like it in a foreign land away from those they love.  They have voluntarily stepped into harm’s way to protect the weak from the strong, to bring justice and fairness to a land where that is not the norm and to offer freedom to people who are not.

 

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