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Three years later – Honor and remember the fallen – Chris Mosko

Posted by John on April 24, 2015

Custodite et protegite nos

Custodite et protegite nos

Sunday marks three years since we lost Chris in Afghanistan and became a Gold Star Family.   Those years have passed with challenges, triumphs, changes and new expectations.  We look at the pictures we have and remember the smile, his eyes and his love and friendship.  We treasure the time and the love we share with Amanda(and Jeremy) and Nate and Meredith.  California and Belgium are both wonderful places.  We will always miss Chris but the memories we love are stronger than ever.

A recent opportunity to help out with the Travis Mannion Foundation (@TMFoundation.com) helped me develop additional perspective on the last three years.  Speaking about “hope” as a leadership trait with the young men in a “If not me, then who?” leadership program at St. Joe’s Prep in Philly, Chris’ home for college and a favorite place for him, provided me critical questions about me and my life.

“How did your life change after Chris was killed?”

I had to pause and consider the before and after.  Most people would not be brave enough to ask this and I do not think I ever put it into words.  Our discussion focused on that while some of my expectations and hopes of the future were lost, my overall life has remained stable.  We came to the conclusion that integrity is a critical life trait that can support you through a crisis.

“What was your life like while Chris was deployed? How did you deal with knowing the possibilities?”

I am an engineer.  I dealt with the statistics.  I was optimistic, positive and confident – about 1 in 20 is killed, less for officers(prior Navy EOD officer – 1994, – I had data that gave me the hope and expectation of him coming home.  It was not to be.

That said, we valued each interaction with him while deployed.  We lived life the way we would if he were not deployed (mostly).  Chris had the expectation he would come back to celebrate his sister, Meredith’s wedding and grow in his relationship with Amanda.  He was booking rooms and tuxes from a dirt hole in Afghanistan.  If that is not living life in the present, I am not sure what is.

“Knowing what you know now, what would you change?”

This was the easiest, … and the hardest question to answer.  Hardest because I would love to pick something that would put him back here with all of us.  But that cannot be done.  I cannot pick and choose what to change.  If I changed that one thing, would he have been happy?  Would he still have been my friend as well as my son?  What other things would have changed and possibly created other deeper problems?

Sunday, April 26, I will find myself thinking of him as I do every day.  I will probably go for a solo bike ride and be at peace with where I am today.  I will come home and have a beer for Chris.  I will more actively pursue the “If not me, then who?” motto and add the as important “If not now, then when?” piece.

Afterthought

Less than 1% of all Americans serve in our military with about 10% on foreign soil and about 20% of those in dangerous places.  About 15,000 are in Iraq and Afghanistan and 10,000 are sitting in ships off the coast of Yemen.  Please remember these warriors in your thoughts and prayers.  Support their families.

For those, like us, who have lost someone or had a loved one return with severe injuries, find the right organization to support.   http://www.travismanion.org/   http://www.eodwarriorfoundation.org/  http://www.taps.org/

Proud American soldiers

Proud American soldiers


 

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Off to Philly – talk to leadership club

Posted by John on April 15, 2015

Off to Philly – talk to leadership club at St Joe’s Prep on Hope in crisis with @TMFoundation Character Does Matter Chris KIA 26APR2012

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What would you do? Managing their risk –

Posted by John on March 30, 2015

What would you do? Managing their risk – US Farmers make critical choices for planting season. Choose wisely. #corn #soya http://ow.ly/KZFpi

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Why #networking is critical to your busi

Posted by John on February 24, 2015

Why #networking is critical to your business and your career – #businessintelligence – http://ow.ly/Jzu70

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‘Honor the fallen by challenging the living’ Travis Manion Foundation

Posted by John on September 11, 2014

As the surviving father of a fallen warrior, I continue to work my way through the journey of grief. My name is John Mosko and Chris was a Navy EOD officer who was killed in Ghazni, Afghanistan along with Dick Lee and Brandon Eggleston, two Army ODA warrior as well as Fibi, their bomb dog on April 26, 2012.  4 months later, Chris’ teammate, Sean Carson, Navy EOD, was killed in a helo crash in Afghanistan.  Sean had called me on Father’s Day since he knew I would be missing Chris.  I was at Dover AFB when Sean was repatriated.

Since that terrible day when Gayle, my wife, Meredith, my daughter, and Amanda, daughter-in-law, learned of Chris’ death, life has been a days of progress and moments of regress. Two plus years later, I finally feel like I am really adapting to this new ‘normal’. It should never be normal for a parent to outlive their child. While I have tried (and occasionally succeeded) to not live vicariously through my children, it is hard not to imagine their future, full of hope and love and discovery.

I have tried to find ways to ‘Honor the fallen by challenging the living’ (Travis Manion Foundation www.tmfoundation.org) and sometimes it was easier to feel sorry for myself and not overcome the barriers.

That changed on Friday, August 29, 2014.  Since Chris’ death, I wanted to pick a major athletic challenge to honor him.  I like to do triathlons and my ultimate goal is to get myself back in shape for a half-Iron Tri but I needed to start somewhere.

That somewhere was my home in Avondale, PA where I put myself on my bicycle at 06:20 and rode to our friends’ vacation home in Bethany Beach, DE, a ride of 112 miles.  It was planned as a solo ride since most people thought this was crazy.  Gayle knew enough to let me try.

Then, a friend, Frank Masley (www.militarygloves.com) got in touch and said he wanted to ride with me.  This was a welcome offer and, in retrospect, Frank’s presence and Gayle’s support assured my success.

My ride was specifically dedicated in memory of Chris as well as in honor of Nate Hathaway, my son in law, who is currently serving as an Army Captain and medical physician for our troops.  In general, this was a ride for all the Fallen Warriors as well as all those who have served and continue to serve.  I wore a cycling outfit from the EOD Warrior Foundation (www.eodwarriorfoundation.org) issued for their 2013 two day California ride given to me by Amanda.  In about 20 pounds, it will actually look OK on this old body.

The two organizations which I am supporting with a donation to each are EOD Warrior Foundation and Travis Manion Foundation (www.tmfoundation.org).  Each has provided support along the way. Tom Manion is the father of Travis Manion, a fallen Marine warrior and has helped me understand more about the path I will travel.  The TMF 9/11 Heroes Runs (www.travismanion.org/get-involved/911-heroes-run) will honor the sacrifices of the heroes of 9/11 – the fallen and the living. I will be doing the virtual run as I will not be able to attend one in person.  It will be dedicated to my friend, Kevin Eitel, who ran in when others were running away because of his Army training.  He now suffers with lung complications.

I write this because we all need to inspect our lives and find ways to honor, remember and support those who have sacrificed.  Please join me and remember those who have sacrificed to make our freedom and our way of life possible.

 

Frank Masley of Military Gloves, me wearing my EOD Warrior kit, Gold Star pin, EOD pin, and Travis Manion Foundation pin

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Posted in Chris Mosko, EOD Warriors Foundation, Family, Leadership, Travis Manion Foundation | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

 
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