Tuesday, September 04, 2007

a moment of silence

Last Wednesday was a tragic day for a good friend and co-worker of mine and her family in Pennsylvania. They received word that Beth's older brother, Erick Foster, was killed while fighting in Iraq. Although I had never met Erick, I felt as though I knew him from stories Beth would share with me about her brother. She loved and cared so deeply for him, I can't imagine the depth of pain she must be feeling.

Her husband Mike sent an email explaining some of the details surrounding the incident:
While we still don't know much, we are told from his commanding officer that a mission took place over the past 5 days in which special forces, using twelve drop zones surrounding an insurgence hot zone, boxed in a group of terrorists. Erick was responsible for leading 12 men to secure the southern portion of this initiative and to seal off an exit road. It was as thick as a jungle and the insurgents picked up on their presence. Random fire occurred and Erick, who is always flanked by two men (artillery and radio) bent down to assist his radio man to call for back up. When he bent over to the ground, his upper body became parallel to the ground, exposing a small strip of fabric on the top of his shoulder where there is no body armor. A random bullet entered his left shoulder and lodged in his chest. He alerted to his men that he'd been hit, but within 30-60 seconds it is said that he slipped into unconsciousness. His men moved him 500 yards to the road but the helicopters could not descend due to power-lines. They moved him again, flew him to the hospital, at which point he was officially pronounced dead (which was about two hours later). It is suspected, however, that he died within ten minutes of being shot having felt little to no pain. From the phone calls we have received from all over the world, it is apparent that Erick was genuinely a stellar and humble soldier. We weren't even aware of all of the commendations he had received over his career, including a couple "oak leaf clusters" which I am told are very special. Anyway, he was an outstanding leader and all of his men respected him deeply. By the way, the mission which took his life resulted in the death of 18 insurgents, the capture of 5 terrorists, the disarming of 10 IED's (bombs), and the liberation of 2 Iraqi prisoners of war (al Qaeda takes a lot of Iraqi prisoners that American soldiers frequently liberate - but you never hear about these stories of triumph on the news). Regardless of your political stance on things on the other side of the Atlantic, Erick firmly believed in the cause, would frequently comment on the great good that the troops are doing, and the need to remain resolute. Erick stared down the face of evil day in and day out and although we cannot comprehend the purposes of God, we do know that in a matter of moments, Erick went from experiencing hell on earth to the glory of the presence of Jesus Christ Himself.

Erick's awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart Medal, the Army Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster, the Army Achievement Medal with one oak leaf cluster, the National Defense Service Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Armed Forces Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon, the Combat Action Badge, the Parachutist’s Badge, and the Ranger Tab.

Just 3 short months ago Beth was given a gift...she was able to join with her brother as he prayed, confessing his need for a Savior, putting his life, faith and trust in Jesus Christ. "But what does it say? "The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart," that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved." Romans 10:8-10

On Wednesday, September 5 the family will say goodbye to their son and brother. Please take a moment of silence to honor Erick Foster and all the other fallen soldiers fighting for freedom. Erick, thank you for your service.

**if anyone would like to send a card to the Foster family, email me and I'll send you their mailing address.