CONCORD, NC, US
PFC, C TROOP, 1-33 CAV, 3D BCT, FORT CAMPBELL, KY
05/24/2010, TSA PARKAY, AFGHANISTAN
Christopher was killed in Afghanistan on May 24, 2010. Christopher had a smile that was contagious. His friends called it the “Joker smile”. He usually looked very serious when he was in a new situation or around new people, but as soon as you made eye contact with him, he’d break out in that grin.
I think everyone that knew Christopher, whether they knew young Chris or younger Chris, would agree on this: He loved to sing. He couldn’t carry a tune for anything, but that never stopped him. When my boys were young we lived in the country and it took a long time to drive anywhere and we would sing to pass the pass. Loudly and badly. Not being able to sing is strong trait passed along by me, but that never stopped us.
Christopher was a good man. He worked hard and we are so proud of him. He struggled for a little bit, trying to figure out what he wanted to do. He talked about going into the Army for many years, so we weren’t surprised when he decided to join. He tested well and had the opportunity to choose from many specialties, but chose infantry because “somebody has to do it”. He excelled in basic training. He won competitions and his self esteem skyrocketed. He was especially proud of his placement in the pugil completion, as he placed first in his battalion. It was a turning point for him. When we went to visit him on a 36 hour pass that he earned between basic and AIT, he gave us $500 in cash and asked us to deposit it in his account. He had earned it by pulling guard duty for others, sacrificing his own sleep for time to write and read letters from home. It was a total Christopher move!
I have many letters from basic, but I’ve chosen to keep them to myself. It’s the only piece of Christopher that I haven’t had to share with the rest of America, or the world for that matter and his words are sacred to me. After basic training Christopher attend airborne school and had a close call in his very last jump. When he jumped out of the plane, he didn’t push off hard enough and the wind threw him back into the plane. He went into a spin and when his shoot opened it righted him. He landed in a swamp and said all he could think about was Georgia alligators and swam towards the designated light like it nobody’s business (he hated the water!).
Christopher married only 7 months before he was killed. Heather lives only 2 blocks from us and they are a perfect pair. Poor Heather had been through so much for being only 19 and finally thought that her life had changed. Her father use to kid with us and tell us that they knew Christopher was the one because she dated him for more than 4 weeks. Christopher called me from Ft. Benning and told me that we he was coming home, which was in April of 2009 and wanted to buy a ring for Heather and I helped him pick it out. He was going to save it until before he deployed. He thought he’d take a cruise with her and propose before he left for Afghanistan, so that Heather would have something positive to focus on while he was gone – planning their wedding, but he instead decided to propose to her on the 4th of July. They decided to get married before he deployed and wed at her family church on October 30th, 2009. We could not have been more happy for them. It was too perfect. We loved Heather and her parents and they all loved us. You couldn’t have asked for a better in-law situation.
Christopher was very family oriented. He loved his brothers so much. He would really have done anything for anyone. He had a tough guy exterior, but really was a marshmallow. To know him was to love him. When he was little he use to nuzzle his head on my shoulder and I would sing to him “you are my sunshine”. And once, when he was about 5 he proudly declared in the kitchen “when I get older I’m not getting a wife, I’m going to get a mom”, I knew I was totally spoiling him!! He is still my sunshine. He is precious and wonderful and the world will be a lesser place without him. I hate that he never got a chance to be a husband for long or to be a daddy. Christopher loved football. He memorized every stat possible (which I used against him frequently when he struggled in school) and joined the team in high school. He was on special teams and finally was put into a game. The very first play he caught a pass and scored a touchdown…he smiled for days.
I am grateful that I had my Christopher for 22 years, but I will miss him forever. I can’t believe that he’s just not coming home with the rest of his unit. Christopher was part of the 101st and they took a hard hit this year and many families are suffering and I know that I’m not the only one, but I just miss him so much. I can’t believe I have to live the rest of my life with never seeing that smile in person again.
Thank you, Elaine Schmiedeshoff Proud Army Mom