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Ray Joseph Hutchinson:A Hero Remembered's Journals
Here we will try to share thoughts, memories and happenings on Ray Joseph Hutchinson-our hero.
This was our fourth, and possibly final trip to Ft. Campbell.
trip was in early March, '03, to say good bye to Ray Joseph as
to deploy to the camps in Kuwait, from which he would cross over
into a war
for the liberation of Iraq.
It was in front of the barracks, in a parking lot, under a sunny
that I held him in my arms for the very last time on this earth,
From that moment on, nothing has ever been the same as it was
had to relinquish Ray Joseph to the care of Almighty God. I had
to urge Ray
Joseph to turn his eyes upon Jesus---which he did so beautifully
Our second trip was also in March, only it was one year later in
very near to the place I had held Ray Joseph in my arms, was
President held me in his arms---- to thank me for Ray Joseph's
Two more trips to Ft. Campbell, Kentucky, have since taken
place; May, '04,
and this final trip in May '05. This trip was also one that
involved a good
bye. But this time is was a good bye to over ten thousand young
men who are
preparing to return to Iraq in three months' time. In a parade
during this Week of the Eagles, we sat in a podium as guests of
watched them all march by; company after company, by the
are so young, and they marched with such unity--- with their
right, toward their general and toward us. My heart could see
into their rendezvous with destiny. And I felt as if I could
not be still
enough inside to honor them all. It was another sunny morning,
farewell. And, of course, it felt like Ray Joseph was somewhere
telling me not to be afraid.
On this trip we were able to meet, for the first time, several
Ray Joseph's platoon who had been on leave during our last two
can not write down all that they shared with me about Ray Joseph
cry so easily these days. I won't be able to see the keys as I
Most of what they said was in their eyes. They love Ray Joseph.
always love Ray Joseph.
One soldier told me that he and Ray Joseph talked about the Lord
Christ many times during those hours of quiet conversations
and brothers, deep in the desert of Iraq---so far away. He was
by Ray Joseph's Faith. What could be better to hear about one's
Another soldier told me that he had never seen Ray Joseph down
that he was always ready to lift someone up; that Ray was
generous with his
smile and his encouragement; that Ray Joseph enjoyed each one of
even if he had to search for something that might be funny about
terrible things could get with death all around them.
These men who loved him are still reeling from the shock of
brother, and their eyes are full of the loss of Ray Joseph.
They look at me
and want to give something of Ray Joseph back to me. Their hugs
and always ready for Ray Joseph's mother. How grateful I am.
I thank them, and tell them what Heroes they are. I tell them
represent the best that has been born in their own ancestry. I
that their courage will strengthen those yet to come who will be
their own families. I tell them I love them, because I do. I
love them for
Ray Joseph, because he would want me to do so. It is easy to
hold them in
They go back to that place on the other side of the earth very
for them all. I know you will. When you see a soldier, thank
With an aching heart, I know that my gratitude to the Lord for
of being Ray Joseph's mother will always spill from my core. I
and ever mindful that I will see Jesus at the perfect moment;
standing there with Him will be Ray Joseph. Of that, I am sure.
Deborah and Michael: thank you for sharing your notes with me this Memorial Day weekend. This evening we celebrated Memorial Day to honor those that have fallen in battle. I worked with my staff to put together what we thought were nice remarks. Just before I departed for the ceremony, I received your note Deborah.and armed with your note and Michael's two earlier notes to me, I decided not to use the speech that I had prepared. Instead I spoke of your visit to Ft. Campbell. Michael, I discussed your visit to Ft. Campbell, and your comment that you never thought that you would think of the Army as family, but now you do. Deborah, I read your note below to those in attendance. I had to read it three times, wiping away tears, before I could leave the office and address the military and civilian members of our team. I cannot tell you the number of folks that came up to me and asked that I pass on their best to you and your family. They were deeply touched that a family could experience such a loss and still support the Army and the cause for which we are engaged each day. You, like Ray Joseph, are the real heroes of this great cause.few understand or will ever know the pain and grief of the families of the fallen. The members of my team were moved by the story of Ray Joseph and his wonderful parents. You are special people and our Nation is indeed fortunate that young men like Ray Joseph choose to serve to protect the freedoms that we enjoy. As a memorial commemorative inscription reads in an American military cemetery about our fallen heroes."Time will not dim the glory of their deeds." We are indeed a family and the Army will always be with you and Ray Joseph, and we will never forget his service and sacrifice.
Thomas P. Bostick
BG, U.S. Army
CG, Gulf Division