Staff SGT Donald Wayne West, Jr., enlisted in the United States Army National Guard on September 11, 2001. As part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Company A of the 150th Combat Engineers served active duty Aug 29, 2004, until Dec 30, 2005. SSGT West returned to college in January, 2006. He married Lauren Ritchie June 9, 2006, at Seaside, Fla., and they have three children. SSGT West completed military service at Camp Minden, LA on Aug 23, 2009.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Day 29 - Honoring SFC Sean Cooley

Here’s a portion of an email Lauren shared today. Wayne actually sent it the day they arrived at their current location:

We had a memorial service today for a soldier in Bravo Company who ran over an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) and was killed the day before I came. They had (created) a little set-up with his weapon, his boots, his helmet and a big 8x10” picture of him… "He was a great soldier, a great American, a great friend, a husband, a father, etc."

I couldn’t take it.

Lauren, I am so grateful for every day God allows me to live under the same sky as you, to breath the same air, and to know the powerful feeling of being so deeply in love. It’s like a spear in my heart every time I think about being 7500 miles away…

Another mother forwarded this link yesterday, which is well worth 120 seconds. My favorite shots are the soldiers reading their letters:

***2/11/05 KALSU,IRAQ Troops honor fallen comrade, SFC Sean Cooley:
***2/13/05 JACKSON, MS - SFC Cooley Buried: