OKLAHOMA CITY, OK, USA U.S. Army CPL, COMPANY D, 2D BATTALION, 8TH CAVALRY, 1 BCT, FORT HOOD, TX TAJI, IRAQ 06/23/2007
This day started out as a nice warm day, and I spent the whole morning at the church mowing and weedeating. Every ten days, I go over to Alan Calhouns house and mow his lawn. Nothing unusual….just another hot, humid, day to mow. Alan is married and has two kids, Lanesha (who still lives at home), and Derek (who is proudly serving his country in the military in Iraq).Today, though, was a very different day. It went from a time of laughing, joking, and enjoying conversation, to crying after getting some very bad news that no parent wants to hear.
I had just finished mowing and weedeating Alan’s yard, and was about to get my blower out to blow the grass in the street, when a van with a US Government license plate pulled up. At the time, I wasn’t sure why they were there or who they were there to see. As the two military men, in their dress military uniforms walked by me, one of them asked me the name of the man and wife that lived at this address, and wanted to know if they were home.
It then clicked…the only time the military sends two men in their dress uniforms to the home of a soldier, is when there is bad news. I laid my blower down on the ground to grasp what was about to happen. As the men approached the door, I saw the door open and the men went in. Within seconds, I heard Lou scream. the type of scream you hear when something bad has happened.
SPC Derek Alan Calhoun was killed this morning in Iraq by a roadside bomb. He was 23 years old and in the prime of his life. Many weeks ago, Derek was injured in an attack, and had spent the last several months in the hospital, recovering from shrapnel wounds. His hand was severely damaged, so he was going through physical therapy to get his hands back to where they needed to be.
Alan and Lou had not heard from Derek in almost a month. The last they heard from him, he informed them that he was still going through physical therapy and that he was not being assigned for any missions until he was healed.
Karla and I were there when Derek was born. We have watched Derek grow up and watched him go through his grade school years and his high school years. When he got older, he decided to join the military. After boot camp, he was a totally different person. Very friendly and respectful. He was proud to serve his country.
I stayed around after the news was delivered to Alan and Lou, and made some phone calls to the pastor of our church and several deacons. I also called my wife to let her know of the tragedy. She came over right away. Soon, many church members and family members started arriving. I didn’t want to get in the way, and I had already done all I could, so I went home.
This is the first time that I have actually known a soldier in Iraq that has gotten killed. We have several soldiers from our church that are serving in Iraq. This is the first soldier that the church has lost to the fighting in Iraq. It will be 7-10 days before Derek’s body reaches the United States. This is so hard on Lou because she wants him back home ASAP. At a very young age Derek accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior, so we know that he is in heaven. SPC Derek Calhoun, you were a brave man, and I salute you. May our God in heaven bring peace to your family. Amen.