TALLMADGE – When a soldier dies in battle, the family needs special healing.
A mother who lost her son in 2005 on the Middle East battlefield offered memory boxes Dec. 16 at the First Congregational Church of Tallmadge to two families who lost young men in the Vietnam War.
Edie Deyarmin of the Deyarmin Foundation presented the memory boxes. She is the mother of Marine Lance Cpl. Daniel Nathan Deyarmin Jr., a 2002 Tallmadge High School graduate, who was killed Aug. 1, 2005 in Haditha, Iraq while serving his country.
The families of Marine Lance Cpl. William H. Bator and U.S. Army Cpl. Richard Morgan were honored with Memorial Boxes and a healing Warriors Journey Home ceremony. Those present recognized 22 veterans who attended and were led by the oldest combat veteran as they entered the healing circle created by family and friends. Each answered the roll call with no response from Bator and Morgan, the two lost in war.
Also in attendance were the Tallmadge American Legion 255 led by Commander Jim Forsythe and Vietnam Veterans of America led by Jim Oaks.
"We share a title 'Gold Star Family' member," Deyarmin said. "Their families suffered a loss as mine but the support at the time was not as strong or ongoing over the years. I cannot imagine going through the loss of my son without the comfort of my community, family and friends."
Deyarmin said she found the Memorial Box project on Facebook and the Deyarmin Foundation sponsored the two boxes for Vietnam veterans which were ordered in May and arrived, appropriately, on Veterans Day.
Deyarmin said JayAnn Morgan Brooks and Lori McGivern Thompson supported her when she lost her son.
"JayAnn sent notes of encouragement," Deyarmin said. "I had to be strong and go forward. Lori headed up the raffles prize table and helped out. Their friendship and dedication meant the world to me. They lost their brothers. They lost just as I did without the support I had."
Lance Cpl. William H. Bator was born Oct. 12, 1945 and enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corp in 1965. On Dec. 9, 1966 he was on a four-day patrol in the Quang Tri Province of South Vietnam and ambushed. They evacuated the wounded and were crossing a river on Dec. 10 when two U.S. F14 Phantom planes dropped bombs and killed 17 men by friendly fire, including Bator.
His younger sisters, Lori McGivern Thompson of Tallmadge and Tammie McGivern of Medina were present for the ceremony.
"It's important that he’s not forgotten and people care," Thompson said.
"It helps bring closure," McGivern said. "We didn’t have the same experience as Edie but people showed up for healing."
U.S. Army Corp. Richard Morgan was born Sept. 5, 1949 and killed April 7, 1971 in Quang Tin Province. He was recognized July 3, 2010 with a ceremony at the Vietnam Veteran Memorial in Clinton and Sept. 19, 2010 at the Clocktower in Cuyahoga Falls, his hometown.
Morgan's six sisters, including Brooks, were present for the presentation. Brooks of Tallmadge was invited to the ceremony on the pretense she would be serving cake.
"I was totally surprised," Brooks said. "It was amazing ceremony. Edie is such an inspiration to Gold Star mothers, sisters and brothers. She’s so giving."
Brenda Konic of Cuyahoga Falls said the ceremony gave them closure.
"We remember our brother as a hero," Konic said. "I was 9 and I remember when they came to the house. I knew something was wrong."
Mary Jo Goldman of Silver Lake said the controversy of the Vietnam War made it difficult for closure.
"It’s a good feeling that they are recognized," Goldman said. "They fought for us. They fought for the country."
Lynn Lyell of Silver Lake said the closure meant the world to the family. She remembers two servicemen coming to the house.
"Easter Sunday they came to our home," Lyell said. "We were all crying. It was terrible."
Chris Koopman of Silver Lake said the ceremony brought some healing and closure.
"He was just an inspiration to all of us," she said of her brother.
Michele McQuillen of Cuyahoga Falls was 8th of 9 children.
"I saw Edie’s heart so compassionate toward us," McQuillen said. "It showed the love in the community. It allowed healing in our hearts."
Deyarmin said she wanted other Gold Star families to know the same love and support from the community she received, but she gave advice to those who lose a child.
"Don’t be so consumed with grief you lose the living children," she said. "It’s not the time that heals the wound. It’s what you do with the time that gets you through the grief."
John Schluep, of Warriors Journey Home, said veterans, even today, have a difficult time returning home without connection to the community and a spirituality for healing.
Warriors Journey Home, which began 17 years ago, heals the invisible wounds of war in military service, the moral injury related to post traumatic stress disorder, Schluep said.
In the Civil War it was called Soldier’s Heart; in WWI shell shock; in WWII combat fatigue; and in 1980 the effects of war was labeled PTSD and doctors recognized they weren't able to treat the condition with medication and traditional treatments, Schluep said.
People grow up with morals and teachings of right and wrong, he said. They go to war and commanders make decisions they must obey even though they violate their morals.
"There is guilt and shame. They feel betrayed by the chain of command," Schleup said.
The soldiers didn’t sign up to kill kids but they didn’t have a choice, he said. But inside, a voice says you killed a child.
The ceremony borrows from different warrior cultures, including earth medicine to get in touch with the natural environment and the community which took care of veterans coming home and healed the wounds of the families of the fallen.
Forsythe said the ceremony helps bring closure to the family. The Tallmadge American Legion has been honoring all military personnel for 50 years on Veterans Day and 151 years on Memorial Day.
Gannett reporter Laura Freeman can be reached at 330-541-9434 or firstname.lastname@example.org