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

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



Remembering Chris – My words at Drexel on 17 May 2012

On 17  May 2012, Drexel University held “Memorial Day Primer and Tribute to Drexel’s Fallen.   In preparation for Memorial Day, the Drexel community filled boxes for our troops, wrote some letters to them also, and then had several people talk about remembering those who have given their all for our freedoms.  President Fry paid a tribute to Chris with words about Chris and who he was while at Drexel.  He then offered me an opportunity to remember Chris and I chose these words:

“Thank you all for coming today to dedicate some time to those who give and have given their lives to protecting the freedoms we enjoy here in America.  This dedication to Chris honors him for his daily desire to doing the right thing.  It is easy as a parent to believe your child is extraordinary.  Maybe it is grades, maybe it is sports.  But rarely do we see gentle leadership.

In so many ways, Chris was ordinary, that is until he saw a wrong to be righted or a team that needed to be led.  But he led by doing.  He led by coaching.  He worked hard to earn trust and respect and he knew that without integrity, he could easily lose all he had gained.

Chris’ times at Drexel and in the NROTC joint unit over at Penn were times of vast growth for him.  He learned how “to learn”, “to lead”, and “to love.”

To learn – Commerce and Engineering was the perfect fit and he found himself willing to be challenged to succeed.   I only learned recently about him being the first Commerce and Engineering student to do a Senior Design Project.

To Lead – NROTC was a key factor.  Being in charge of discipline one semester, he set up historic 5a.m. runs through Philly.  Each person disciplined was given a subject to talk on for 5 minutes about how this site was important to American Freedom.

To Love – he met Amanda here.  As a father, you know your son and you know when your son changes.  Amanda completed him and made him a better man.

As you sit here today, remember that there are still many men and women out there protecting our freedoms and working to provide the potential for freedom for oppressed people.  As you walk by a monument, a graveyard, a flag, or someone in uniform, stop and be thankful, silently  to yourself or outlound to them.  Without them protecting our freedom to pursue happiness we would not be the America we are.  Thank you for honoring Chris here today.

Custodite et protegite nos – Chris, watch over and protect us.”