CHINA, W.W. – When news broke that a 20-year-old Womming soldier was one of the last dead in the two-decade-long US-led war in Afghanistan, it came as a tragic backstory: Woming, a 20-year-old soldier, was the first in the war Was among the dead.
Army Ranger SPC John Edmunds, of China, was one of the first two victims of the war when a Black Hawk helicopter crashed on a search and rescue mission in Pakistan on October 19, 2001.
Last month, the Marine Lance CPL family. Bondorent’s Riley McCullum, just outside Jackson, said he was among 13 Americans killed in a suicide bombing at Kabul airport on August 26.
Edmunds and McCullum both died during their first deployment. In the meantime, the war in Afghanistan killed about 2,200 American soldiers, mostly with much less attention than the two Wyoming men.
As with Edmunds’ death in chaos following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, McCullum’s attacks were particularly tragic. The Americans are struggling for implementation. What’s better – if any – comes from their nation’s longest war.
“It was a tragic death,” Edmunds’ father, Don Edmunds, said of McCullum. “Seeing other people lose their loved ones, what he does brings back bad memories for my family.”
Edmunds, a 25-year-old U.S. Army veteran who has served in Vietnam, recalls that just before sunrise on October 20, 2001, two officers knocked on his door on the outskirts of China, killing his son. The news came.
“I looked out the window, I saw them standing there and I could only think, ‘Oh my God, I know why they’re here.’ I made a notification so that I could find out.
“He came in and gave us a ‘sorry to let you know.’ My wife was up by then, and I saw her melting in the carpet on the floor,” Edmunds recalled. “And they asked, ‘Can we do something?’ And we said, ‘No, just let us absorb it, and we must be able to accept it.’ ‘
Wyoming is a sparsely populated state and values tradition: the Rodeo and County Fairs in the summer, the elk hunt in the fall, the calf season in the spring, and military service.
John Edmunds and his friends grew up playing with water guns, then laser tags in the family yard. The honors student eventually moved on to paintball, Don Edmunds recalled.
“Our Air Force guys used to come to us from here and knock on the door and say, ‘Can John come out and play paintball with us?’ ‘
In the opposite direction of the CEAN, the FE Warren Air Force Base has been monitoring nuclear missiles at Silo under the plains of Wyoming, Colorado and Nebraska since the 1960s. Every July, the city hosts its large-scale Sheen Frontier Day Rodeo Festival but Sian. It has always been a military city.
Like Edmunds, McCullum was born with soldering in his blood.
He grew up in the Jackson Hole area, a rugged, forested mountainous area and outdoor culture on the other side of Wyoming from China. Even as a small child, McCullum played with toy rifles, pretending to be a soldier or a hunter.
As a high school wrestler, he distinguished himself. Intensive training At school, in 2017, he and his father. Spoke publicly When multiple choice quizzes for reading assignments offer “shoot at Trump” in response.
Jackson, where McCullum graduated from high school, is a rich ski and summer tourism enclave near Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks that make many people in Wyoming look outwardly socially and economically and politically. Are more moderate than the rest of the state.
Despite this, the town of 10,000 has shown little respect for veterans and military service, especially in the last 20 years, said Joseph Burke, commander of the Native American Legion Post.
“It was around 9/11 that people began to recognize veterans, their victims and their families,” Burke said. “We have children who go from here to service all the time.”
McCullum’s widow, Jeanne Creton, is due to give birth in a couple of weeks, and the family plans to have a memorial service shortly. Meanwhile, three online fundraising efforts have raised more than $ 900,000 for Cretan and the child’s education.
After John Edmunds’ death, television trucks lined up outside the family home. Reporters gathered at their daughter’s school, Don Edmunds recalled, and the family lived like “hermits” for a few weeks.
In a memorial service that filled the 4,500-seat gym, John Edmunds’ commanding officer recalled him as a shrewd soldier who, despite the tired looks of other soldiers, “had that fierce look on his face.” Kept
However, such mobs are not always visible to the number of soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq over the next two decades.
“Yes, people became numb. But the affected families never became numb,” Edmunds said.
Edmunds said Edmunds’ family received about 24 24,000 in donations from 2001, including a charity for wounded soldiers, including the Wounded Warrior Project.
He has spent his son’s death riding his Harley-Davidson with the Patriot Guard Riders, a biker group that helps maintain decorations at military funerals, failing for the Wyoming legislature and veterans. Trying to increase interest in establishing a memorial park. He is now considering filing a lawsuit against the US government over its withdrawal from Afghanistan, which he described as poorly organized.
“The sons of all these people were very good. Each of them was a painful loss to their family. And the thing about it, for whom?” Said Edmunds. “We abandoned their mission.” have done.”
Edmunds, 72, who runs a security business, said the job of comforting and counseling grieving relatives, however, was a treat for him and his relatives.
Edmunds recalled that once at a ceremony hosted by the Army’s Survivor Outreach Services Family Support Group, a woman asked if it had ever been easier to lose a loved one.
“I said, ‘Ma’am, it’s never going to be easy. The only thing that will happen to you is that time will take you away from the ceremony,'” Edmunds said.