Roberts, Ill, US
E-3, Combat Engineer
I am the mother of Levi W. Derby. Levi was the oldest of my 3 sons and 3rd born of my 5 children. Levi was a very cute and sweet little boy that grew up with my challenges in his life time. His birth father abandoned him when he was just turning one. To this day, his birth father doesn’t know his son died. Levi always considered his younger brothers father to be his own. He spent the rest of his life trying to live up to them in this man’s eyes.
Levi had a learning disability of dyslexia and over came this at 18 when going to a military ran high school. He excelled at Lincoln’s Challenge to be the only one to graduate with two scholar ships to college and yet he joined the Army instead.
Levi served in Operation Anaconda in the beginning of the war in Afghanistan. He was a combat Engineer and carried the M249 in his squad.
Levi had a big heart and gentle sole. He loved children and always wanted a family of his own. As a teenager he would walk the floor with a crying child to comfort them till they would fall asleep. He was so very close to his nephews. Every 4th of July he always lit fire works off for them.
While over in Afghanistan he saw a young girl be killed by a land mind that was missed during a sweep. This tormented his mind for the rest of his life. Each night he would wake from seeing this happen over and over till the very last day of his life. He told his doctor that he feared God would not let him into heaven as he felt it was his fault for missing the land mind left behind by the Russians.
My son ended taking his own life after suffering from PTSD for 5 long years. He went for help and yet they just couldn’t give him the help he needed as he refused to be locked up for in house treatment. I too believe that he may have had TBI as he came home from the service with bleeding from his ears that was never treated. It was so hard watching this war in his head and trying to help and yet not knowing what to do. I always said he brought the war home with him, he just fought in a different form. Those of us that loved him all felt and lived this war for 5 long years.
He married and had one son; his dream come true; but, that suffered dearly from the demons now in his head. My son only told me two things when he came home from war; He would never kill again and that he would never live to see 27. This war took my son from me. He left one proud and brave E2 Army Combat Engineer and came home one E-3 with a cold dead stare in his eyes that was frightening to see.
The warm sweet man was now one horror filled and empty shell of the find young man that had gone to fight for our country. In my heart my son still lives and in my arms the ache never leaves to hold him once more.