Wise Words

"Wait on the Lord, be strong and of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart...wait on the Lord. Psalms 27:14


WWW As My World Turns

Thursday, May 17, 2007

February 12, 1970 - May 6, 2007

The following is put together from a couple of CenTex news articles:

1st Cav soldier's remains returned to Fort Hood for burial


"God, you were supposed to take care of him!"

The pain in Donna Kiernan's voice pierced the silence at Robert Gray Army Airfield on Monday afternoon as a flag-draped casket containing her husband's body was carried to a waiting hearse.

"You're my hero, Christopher," she yelled between mournful wails.

"I love you!"

"I'm so angry!"

Staff Sgt. Christopher S. Kiernan was killed by a sniper on May 6 in Baghdad. The 37-year-old served with the 1st Cavalry Division's 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team. He joined the military in March 1990 as an armor crewmember. He served tours during Desert Storm and later, Bosnia, where he earned a Purple Heart, and in Haiti and Somalia. Chris deployed in 2004 to Iraq, where he earned a Bronze Star. He had been with the battalion since September 2005, and deployed with it to Iraq in October 2006.

Chris is the first Fort Hood soldier killed in action whose remains were flown directly to Fort Hood. Before a January policy change, Texas soldiers' remains were flown from Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to Dallas or Austin. Now remains will be flown to a regional airport with 5,000 feet of runway nearest the family's home, said Lee Price, chief of Fort Hood's Casualty Assistance Center. The Kiernans lived in Killeen.

The change will ensure that families will have to travel less and that complete honors are provided for each soldier, Price said.

Before her husband's remains arrived on Monday, Donna read an e-mail Chris sent her shortly before his death, titled "The past six months in Baghdad." In it, he talked about the situation in Iraq and policies proposed by lawmakers. He slammed elected officials for passing a bill that provided a timeline for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq. He asked his wife to forward it to everyone they knew, but asked it not be passed on to members of the media because his words would be misconstrued.

He also wrote about the people of Iraq and how the troops must build their trust. He said the withdrawal timeline tells these people that the Americans are leaving and never coming back.

"These people will never forgive us," Chris wrote.

Donna went on to say that American soldiers need help and without additional troop support, more "will pay with their blood and their lives." Chris did just that, she said, and the soldiers in his unit were hurting. She knows many who are on their second and third deployments, and the ones who are in Iraq are exhausted and fatigued.

Chris' death means it's time for politicians to stop taking vacations and get to work, Donna said adamantly. They need to work 18-hour days, sleep four hours and then go back out for another day like the soldiers are doing in Iraq, she added.

During training, the "gloves are off," Donna said, but in battle the soldiers are held back and "must be proper while the cowardly so-called insurgents use their religious mosque to hide out and build weapon caches.

"The insurgents are upgrading their weapons and experience," she said. "They want to kill American soldiers." She put responsibility on the Iraqi people, saying it is time for them to be held accountable for meeting deadlines set by the American government.

"It's time for the Iraqis to take charge of their own country and take responsibility if they fail to meet the deadlines they are supposed to meet," she said.

She read a portion of the email: "By telling them we are leaving and never coming back, means the terrorists will continue to do what they do, because who cares? America is leaving anyway. These people will never forgive us."

The letter went on to explain how the Iraqi people seemed to appreciate the U.S. troops and their efforts. Donna said Christopher believed immediate withdrawal is not the answer.

"It's not going to be ended by bullets. It's going to be ended by negotiations and it's going to be ended by making Iraqis responsible. It's no more free ride. It's time for them to take responsibility. And my husband paid with his life and his blood," she said.

As the family struggles to cope with their personal loss, Donna made sure her late husband's words are not falling on deaf ears.

"A soldier who lost his life, these are his words I read to you, his words, and he went there to make a difference and you know what? They're making a difference, and that's what people need to know," she said.

To see photos, learn more about Staff. Sgt. Christopher Kiernan, or to share thoughts and memories, visit www.killeenfunerals.com .

Soldier sends message to wife

Staff. Sgt. Christopher S. Kiernan sent his wife, Donna, an e-mail titled "The past six months in Baghdad" shortly before his death on May 6.

"This is what a soldier says," Donna said. "Not a senator, congressman, Republican or Democrat."

The following excerpt from that e-mail was provided by Donna Kiernan:

"This week, the elected officials passed a defense bill with a timeline for withdraw of troops. I can just say thank you to them for caring about us, also telling the enemy that America is going to quit just made my job harderis is not the answer These decisions would have been made behind closed doors, without the media, it may have been a good decision. To work with these people, we must first build their trust. Once you have that, you can get a lot of things done. By telling them we are leaving, and never coming back means the terrorist(s) will continue to do what they do, because who cares? The Americans are leaving! These people will never forgive us. I feel that this whole thing could have been handled differently and more professionally. I am smart enough to know that there is nothing I can do (to) stop this, but I will just do my best to make it work so I can feel proud of what I have done over here to make a better life for these people."


Staff Sergeant Christopher S. Kiernan was killed in action in Baghdad, Iraq on Sunday, May 6, 2007.

Sgt. Kiernan was born in Charlotte, NC on February 12, 1970. He was an incredible person who possessed a special gift of effortless kindness and endless generosity. He would often give his time and resources to others in need while never asking for anything in return. The way Chris lived his life is a valuable lesson for all of us to cherish.

Chris attended King's Grant Elementary, Lynnhaven Junior High, and graduated from First Colonial High School in 1988. He enlisted in the US Army in 1990 and became a member of the armored corps. In 1991 he drove his tank in the front lines of Desert Storm. He went on to serve tours in Bosnia, Haiti, and Somalia. In 2004 he served in Iraq and was deployed there again in 2006. Throughout his military career, Chris was stationed at Fort Knox Kentucky, Erlangen Germany and Fort Hood Texas. He was awarded a Purple Heart during his service in Bosnia and a Bronze Star during his first tour in Iraq.

Chris leaves behind a grieving family and community, both military and civilian. His loving wife, Donna East Kiernan of Killeen, Texas, his parents, John and Margaret Kiernan of Virginia Beach, his grandfather, William Murray of Virginia Beach, his sister, Kathleen Dwyer, her husband, Greg Sultuska, their daughter Harly Grace of Destin, FL, his brother, Sean Kiernan and his wife, Corbie of Cambridge, MA, as well as extended family and friends who will mourn his loss forever.

The family would like to thank all of his friends who have shared so many wonderful stories about Chris that we had forgotten or had never heard. These memories and all the laughter and joy Chris gave us will be treasured forever.

Born: February 12, 1970
Place of Birth: Charlotte, North Carolina
Death: May 6, 2007
Place of Death: Baghdad, Iraq
Occupation: U.S. Army

Memorial donations can be made to Second Chance Animal Shelter; 5501 Clear Creek Rd., Killeen,TX 76549 or Operation Homefront-Texas, 100 Schertz Parkway Suite C, Schertz,TX 78154

Ok, on a personal note, this is HUGE here for us in Austin - just down the road from Killeen. I've been listening to the local country station this morning and his funeral procession will be coming down I-35 around 12:30 to Ft. Sam Houston. Many people are going to line the highway to show their respects. I am too. That's during my lunch hour and I work right off of 35 - like within walking distance. The radio DJ's talked to his wife Donna and had the interview on the radio and she was so angry over the soldiers' treatment by our congress and media. The DJ's of this station said they get hate calls and hate email all the time for their staunch pro-military stance and they said that they will NEVER apologize for it. Every single one of them support the war and support the soldiers and while they wish this would get wrapped up quickly, they do not want there to be a premature pull-out until the job is done. They were totally unapologetic for their support and it was beautiful to listen to. This is the #1 country station here and among the top 5 stations in Austin.

Tim McGraw sang a song at the ACM's that he wrote himself about the soldiers that have given their lives over there and that had many in tears. It's not out anywhere as far as a recorded single but I hope it is soon. They played it on the radio and it had me in tears again. I've included the lyrics for it.

Tim had 98 mothers onstage with him that have lost children in the war.

If You're Reading This
If you're reading this, with my momma sitting there,
looks like I only got a one way ticket over here.
I sure wish I could give you one more kiss,
war was just a game we played when we were kids.

Im laying down my gun, Im hangin up my boots,
Im up here with God and we're both watching over you.
Lay me down...in that open field out on the edge of town,
And my soul is where my momma always prayed that it would go.
If you're reading this...Im already home.

Half way around the world,
I wont be there to see the birth of our little girl.
I hope she looks like you...I hope she fights like me
and stands up for the innocent and the weak.

Im laying down my gun, Im hangin up my boots,
Tell dad I don't regret that I followed in his shoes.
So...lay me down...in that open field out on the edge of town,
And my soul is where my momma always prayed that it would go.
If you're reading this...Im already home.

If you're reading this...there's going to come a day,
you'll move on and find someone else and that's ok.
Just remember this, I'm in a better place,
soldiers live in peace and angels sing Amazing Grace.

Im laying down my gun, Im hangin up my boots,
Im up here with God and we're both watching over you.
Lay me down...in that open field out on the edge of town,
And my soul is where my momma always prayed that it would go.
If you're reading this...Im already home.


On another personal note, I brought back from my really great weekend trip with Emily a lovely case of acute bronchitis and a touch of the flu. For those of you who read me frequently, you know that I struggled with acute bronchitis quite a bit between the week before Christmas (actually at that time it wa bronchopneumonia) through mid(ish)-February. I haven't done much blogging but will be back at it when I'm feeling better.


Jean-Luc Picard said...

A well written piece Nic.

Sorry to hear you're suffering from bronchitis again. Hope you're back with us soon.

Bandit 4 said...

Nic, thank you for the write up about Chris and Donna. I have known them both for many years. We ate and partied together, and always took time to share a story or two when we ran into each other. Chris' passing really hit home for many of us. For Chris' funeral, we had members of our old unit (not the unit he was serving in when that fateful day occured) come in from all over the country. My old Platoon was reintroduced to each other because of Chris' death. We now keep in touch much better...and many will be in town this month for a unit reunion. Anyways, dinner for the reunion is Feb 21st (around 7pm I think) at the Texas Land and Cattle off of highway 1 in Austin. If you can drop in, I will get your first beer - trust me, even if you don't drink, to have an old Soldier buy you a beer is truly an honor - please take me up on it! There will be many friends from the old unit and I am sure that we will talk about Chris at some point throughout the evening! We will also share lies and stories from our past together...so watch out Austin, 2/12 Cavalry is coming!!!

Nic said...

Badit, it truly would be an honor to sit with y'all. I personally did not know him or his wife but I do work for a defense contractor, have dated a soldier over in Iraq (a gunner who, due to an accident that rolled them to the bottom of a canal, was in Landstuhl for a month, lost his VC and had another soldier in his vehicle be medically discharged)and have several friends in Iraq and Afghanistan right now so rest assured that I know what y'all and your families go though.

I know the TLC you are speaking of and will be there. Might be a little late b/c I have another commitment at 1700 just about 10 minutes down the road but I would not miss meeting you and the guys for the world! And, other than Guinness, my favorite beer is an ice cold Shiner. Dark beer is a passion of mine. LOL!

Look forward to hanging out with y'all. :-)