My Hero, My Son. Sgt Ryan Nicholas Roffey-Hughes.
In March of this year Ryan volunteered to go on deployment with the 24Th MEU.. On March 18, 2008 my family woke in the dark of the night to escort my son to Camp Lejeune to see him off...
As with each deployment thoughts of never seeing your loved one crosses you mind.. and you push it away.. I took many pictures that day.. hoping they were not my last with my son..My son. Ryan. commented... MOM! Enough!... ENOUGH? Never.!!!. I had to savor each precious moment ..for they could be my last.. I watched as my parents stood there. with my son Mike and I..as Ryan boarded the bus...that would take him away.. my mother and I..both with tears flowing down our faces.. scared for him...scared for us.. and then I watched as a tears fell from my fathers face..he had to walk away...he threw his hand up in the air to wave good-bye as he tried to hide the tears from his grandson.. it broke my heart.. for my dad and my son.. had a bond like nothing I have ever seen.. between two men...I prayed to God to keep him safe.. This wasn't his first deployment.. he had been to Iraq and volunteered to do a double tour there. I am proud of my son.. being a Marine is what he has always wanted to do.. it was in his blood. Both his father and step-father were Marines...
I knew early on as a Marine Wife..what sacrifice our men might have to make.. so when he became a Marine.. I knew..
.I knew one day I might be given a Folded Flag to replace my son.. it was a fear That surfaced more than I care to admit......"please don't let anyone in uniform walk up to my door.."I prayed... for I knew all to well what that would mean..
I wore my Hero Bracelet proudly...showing it off to all that asked...and even to some that didn't! Many times clerks would ask me what I was wearing , and I would explain to them...This is my HERO Bracelet!!! And I would tell them all about it.. and how it would come off when he came home...Every time..they would say ..we are praying for him. When dad came to visit..he looked at my bracelet..and thought it was a neat way to honor Ryan....I wore it faithfuly the entire time he was gone.
As the weeks turned into months..I longed for the day my son would be on safe ground again.. through those months my parents and I would share the calls from Ryan so far away..as the months narrowed down to weeks...we planned his homecoming...everyone was so excited that he would be coming home..especially my DAD...
A few weeks before he was due home my son sent my DAD a card..he received it on September 8Th..my son had addressed the envelope like he always had done...
GRAMPS...and then his address...that card had a beach scene on the front..their favorite place...and Ryan wrote of the two of them finally being together again...soon...at the bottom was this. " I love you with all my heart "..soon we will be on the beach together..Love Ryan....
I spoke with my parents on the phone planning their stay when he returned.. making reservations for them..Excitement was in the air..
On Thursday Sept 11Th my son called my dad and they talked for a long time.. laughing and planning Ryan's homecoming..Dad loved hearing from Ryan.. Ryan had even bought him a cell phone before he left... his personal link to GRAMPS...he slept with it by his bed...
Then the phone call came that Sept 12Th...shock and disbelief overwhelmed me...NO! NO! NO!.. I remember saying.. don't' say it! DON'T"! NO! NO! NO!....I remember shaking my head... thinking NO! This is not happening...I fell to my knees...and I knew it was true...my heart was breaking...Phone calls had to be made..to tell others of the terrible news...Red Cross contacted...Units called.. Sgt Majors ..friends..family...
and that walk to tell my son Mike at work the news.. was the longest walk of my life..he looked at me ..the tears falling from my face.. and he knew.. but he didn't.....
the Chaplin called me from that far , far away land..and as he got on the phone.. the words came from my mouth...." I'm so so sorry". is all I could speak"...he knew...
Arrangements had to be made.. People gather from far away..many states..My sons best friend flew in from Louisiana to be with us.. people were shuttled from the airport to my parents home.. Military honors were planned...the days are a blur..shock will do that to you.. and on his final resting day...I watched as the Marines carried his flag draped casket to the grave...the sound of the 21 gun salute pierced my soul..and taps brought me to tears...
I watched as the honor guards folded the flag so precise and handed it over to my sons best friend..to present it...the white dove was let go in the sky to represent his spirit going to heaven..
As I looked up I saw three Marines...in dress Blues Snap to attention...and slowly lift their hand to salute their grandfather .....one last tribute. As they held their salute..I cried.
To lose my father, their Grandfather...was such a shock to us..as with any sudden death....Who knew that Cold March morning so many months ago..that it would be my dad..who would not be with us for any more pictures...when he waved good-bye to Ryan it was for the last time....
As I remember back to the services at the funeral home.. I relived my last moment with my father laying there...as I reached to my arm and took my Hero Bracelet off..I placed it with him... I touched his arm and said.. He's home daddy.. he's home safe...I know you would be so proud ...
Jacksonville, North Carolina
PS: I wrote this to my son on Aug 23
Dear Ryan..I wrote this and wanted to share it with you.. I love you and miss you so much
A solid band around my wrist
of you my son
You name is proudly displayed
for all to see
as well as the Rank you've achived
There is the name of where you are
Afghnistan a Country so so far...
Each day I glance at it at east a million times
wishing I had you here at my side.. inside
I proudly tell all who ask..
what the band stands for
even though my voice cracks and tears fall to the floor
Sometime I run my fingers across the thick wide smooth band
wishing instead..for your tender hand...
What I wouldn't give.. to have you breathing the same air..
or just a call knowing you were OK overthere...
My heart breaks..and I try to not let others see..
at times..I cry... all alone.. for the son I can't see
I try to be strong.. Like I know you are..
I am proud of all you do..
I will get through this some how..
Having the band around my wrist.. lets
me be closer to you each day.. with a flick of
my finger The miles melt away..
Its there to help me through the tears.
and the pain..And the fears I feel inside..
coming down on me like falling rain.
I carry you around my wrist..
And it comforts my soul...and makes me smile
Don't worry about me..I will survive
Be safe my son.. I pray each day..
Be safe Ryan ..and come home to me I pray..