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North Dakota Patriot Guard is focused on providing the RESPECT all of our Military men and women deserve.
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The day we took Chris's body to it's final resting place was surreal. How do you say goodbye to the body you loved? How do you hold the love of your life, your husband's hand one last time, kiss his face, feel his hair in your hands, lay on... his chest..? I believe we all do it differently,and I can only tell you how I did it. I did it with tears that seemed endless as I tried to absorb every second and feel of him one last time. So absorbed in the minutes I had left with his physical being, I remember seeing people without actually seeing them. As I walked into the funeral home the first time I introduced myself to a police officer standing guard. His look was pained and somber as he gently said, "I know". In that instant, I realized he was a good friend of ours. I apologized as I hugged his neck while he quietly told me, " I'm so sorry." What followed was extraordinarily private...and I am sure there are others who have their own memories not unlike mine.
Sometime later, I took our children to say goodbye to the body God gave their daddy to use on earth. No one knows the "right" thing to do is in this situation. I only knew that if I took them, we could work through their feelings. If I didn't, I wasn't sure about living with any regret of a choice I made for them. They had the best dad in the world. It seemed only right for them to be able to say goodbye to his body.
I took the advice of my dear friend Leanne, and brought a photo album full of pictures of the life they lived with their dad. They were able to pour over the pictures after attempting to say goodbye to his body. My heart broke as they each said their own goodbye differently. I watched them, held their hands and answered questions as my eyes moved over Chris's arms, the arms that held these children since the minute they were born, the legs that ran after them through the house in fits of hysterical laughter, the hands that gently rubbed their backs, tickled them silly, and held their little hands while they prayed. I took in the look of he lips that softly kissed them goodnight on top of their sleeping heads.
Together, we remembered that daddy's body had no more pain. He was with God watching over us, knowing how much we will always love him and knowing he will love us the rest of our lives too. They each handled their goodbye differently. I was glad they could do what felt right to them.
I have learned there are no rules in grief.
The memorial and the procession still leave me almost in shock. The outpouring of love and patriotism was awe-inspiring and nothing Chris would have ever imagined. He would have been in awe as I was. He would have been proud of our country, as was I, because he would have known it was not just for him...it was for love of military and love of the ideals he stood for. He was humble, genuine, courageous, loving, protective, giving it all when there seemed to be nothing left to give. He stood for God, he stood for his country and he stood for his family. You all stood for, and continue to stand for him and for all those who serve. You have my gratitude. You make a meaningful difference in the lives of those who serve and their families when you stand strong for them.
The Boot Campaign's Sherri Reuland and Melanie Luttrell organized an outreach letting people know the time and route the procession would travel. You can see the results of their efforts in this video. Firefighters lined every overpass, for 200 miles, with raised flags to show honor and respect. Cowboy Dave, I couldn't have chosen a better song for this video tribute. Thank you.
As we prepared for the drive to Austin, I held our children and asked if they would be okay riding with family and police while I took one last ride with their dad. I felt an indescribable need to be near him, to be with him. He was my friend, my love and the man who, along with my parents, made me who I am today. We took many road trips together. In some ways, the long drive felt fitting. I couldn't bear him making it alone and I ached to take one last ride with him.
The hearse only held one passenger. Our children were safe and well-cared for by family and friends in a motor home following close behind. The motor home had beds, a refrigerator and bathroom - a perfect blessing for children to make the hours long drive from Dallas to Austin. The bus was donated for the week following Chris's death by Todd Poulson, Billy Aud and Mike Freeland. It was used as a meeting place outside of our home and an overflow area when the house was overflowing with people in need of sleep, a chair or a private conversation. It was a comfortable ride for the kids as they had grown accustomed to it in the days preceding the burial. Our thanks, again, will never be enough.
I am told the procession was the longest in Texas state history. Patriots everywhere and Texans of course, will always have my heart. The procession started as rain drizzled down and grey clouds covered the sky. Helicopters circled overhead with snipers in overwatch position - sitting with rifles on their laps, legs dangling off the edge of the open helo door. I was told the position was less for protection and more a tribute to Chris. Chris was afraid of heights, yet ironically loved to ride in a helo in that overwatch position. It was awe inspiring and started the morning I will never forget. To the snipers, I don't know your names, but I hope you saw me sign my thanks from my heart to yours.
Neighbors, friends, family, police and the patriot guard in all their glory, lined their vehicles up for a procession that would stretch miles. What we saw from our vehicles on the slow trail to Austin State Cemetery brought grown men and women to freely flowing tears.
People lined the streets, in the rain, with flags and hands over their heart to pay their respects. I remember a woman in her bathrobe who walked out of her house with a flag. Whoever you are - I can relate ma'am - I too am often running late - my neighbors can attest to many a morning where I am running out disheveled to take care of one thing or another . It meant the world to us that you would all come just as you were. Children were coming out of their schoolhouse with signs they made. Boy scouts, women, men and children of all ages lined the streets with flags and signs. Traffic on the other side of the interstate stopped. Semi trucks parked in the middle of the freeway. People stood on top of their cars. It was respectful and quiet with only the sound of the rain, the cars and at one point, bagpipes. You can see the bagpiper on an overpass in the video. Chris and I both love bagpipes in a heart wrenching way. There is nothing like them. During the memorial I knew the tribute given by the pipers would have been one of Chris's favorite moments of the send off so many people worked night and day to give him.
Our worst nightmare came alive the day Chris and Chad were taken from us. Thank you to all who were involved in every part of providing a memorable farewell in the darkest moments of our lives. From planning, to protection, to showing up you made it happen. To all veterans... I hope you know this isn't just about Chris and our family. It is about what the best of you stand for and our country's growing appreciation for the sacrifice you and your families have made and continue to make. Chris stood for you. We stand for you. United We All Stand.
God Bless, Taya Kyle
(Turn off the music at the top of the page to watch and listen to the video)
Airmen Arrive Home from Afghanistan
FARGO, N.D. - More than 20 Airmen with the North Dakota Air National Guard spent last night safe in their own beds after returning around 10 p.m. yesterday from Afghanistan. The Airmen, members of the Fargo-based 119th Security Forces Squadron, deployed to Bagram Airfield in March and have been providing security missions at the base.
"North Dakotans are proud of the men and women of our National Guard and of the important contributions they are making here at home and across the globe," said Gov. Jack Dalrymple. "The members of the 119th Security Forces Squadron demonstrated yet again why North Dakota's Guard is the best in the nation. They completed an important mission in Afghanistan and did so with great expertise and success. We are grateful to them and their families for their selfless dedication and distinguished service."
The Airmen helped secure the busiest logistics hub in the Department of Defense, where a plane departs or lands at least once every 2 minutes - 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They also worked at the nation's busiest vehicle entry control point, which saw record traffic this year, and the nation's busiest pedestrian entry control point. Others helped secure the base's perimeter while additional Airmen served on a Fly-Away Security Team. Known as FASTs, the teams provide protection for air crews, planes and cargo traveling around the country.
"These Airmen had one of the most important missions in Bagram as they served as part of the 455th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron to protect the lives of 36,000 people and secure more than $3.5 billion in assets," said Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, North Dakota adjutant general, who - along with Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley and other Guard leaders - welcomed the Airmen as they arrived at Hector International Airport in Fargo. "More than half of this group is serving on their first enlistment in the military, but you would never know it based on the competent, experienced way they performed their mission each day."
Among those newer Guardsmen is Senior Airman Michael Bullen, who returned last night.
"We're in a hostile country and we're the sole protectors of a multimillion dollar aircraft," he said recently from Afghanistan as he described his job with the FAST. "We're really the only people protecting the crew, protecting the mission."
Seven more Airmen remain overseas with the unit but are expected home later this month.
"Freedom is not something to be secured at any one moment of time. We must struggle to preserve it every day. And freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction."
------ Ronald Reagan
"The soldier above all others prays for peace, for it is the soldier who must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war"
To our soldiers.....
May God bless you each and every one
For all you do for us each day
We will keep you in our hearts
And for your safety we will pray.