10 Years Ago Today

I have a thin piece of steel. It is 6 inches long, 1/2 inch wide, and 1/32 inch thick.

It holds 77 little symbols that have no significant meaning when they stand alone.

65 letters—snthiavagtefstrngiotasaftrabostmbdecsbateivapamamthnIfodilramiqsa

10 digits—1512522005

2 periods—  .  .

When arranged in a particular order, these letters, numbers, and periods tell of a fallen warrior.

These letters, numbers, and periods serve as a reminder of a fallen son, brother, and husband.

He was a soldier.

He was a leader.

He was a mentor.

He was one of my closest friends in the army.


SSG IOASA F. TAVAE

1ST BN 5TH INF RGT 1ST BDE COMBAT TEAM

25TH INF DIV 2 APRIL 2005 IRAQ

AM. SAMOA


I wear this bracelet as a reminder. I don’t wear it everyday, and it is not the only one that I have. I don’t need bracelets to remember my friends, but sometimes these bracelets help me keep things in perspective.

When something is challenging…

When something is frustrating…

When something is stressful…

A bad day…

These bracelets remind me that today is not as hard, not as stressful, and not as bad as March 11th, 2003; April 2nd, 2005; August 22nd, 2007; April 1st, 2008; April 29th, 2008; May 1st, 2008; May 15th, 2008;  August 10th 2008; or probably half a dozen other dates that I could list.

KIA Bracelet Crop

I learned of his death through an email from our former platoon leader.

Tavae was leading men in combat in Iraq. I was in Afghanistan.

29, of Pago Pago, American Samoa; assigned to the 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Fort Lewis, Wash.; killed April 2 when his unit was attacked by enemy forces using small-arms fire in Mosul, Iraq.

SGT Ioasa Tavae on Homeland Security at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Maryland SGT Ioasa Tavae at K2, Uzbekistan Dec. 2001