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