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Note: Originally from December, 2005, this tribute is presented as part of Mudville's Memorial Day weekend, 2008.
Came across your blog this morning, and thought I'd share my thoughts as the dad of an American Soldier killed in action four months ago. My son was standing cover flank for two buddies checking out a suspicous location in the roadway while on patrol at 2:20 A.M. 16 Aug when an IED exploded. He was the only one killed. Two soldiers suffered serious injuries and are now home on permanent medical leave, but both will live normal lives after they finish med rehab and surgery.
Life is hard when you lose a child; you have children and you think of them burying you and not the other way around. But war brings a nw perspective to the parent child relationship, for the parent is put in a position that they are unable to fulfill a basic parental instinct - protect your child. Losing a child, especially in war and especially with media attention focused on your loss, is difficult. I find myself counting time in weeks - every Monday at 6:20 p.m., I silently remember, maybe with a tear, that X weeks ago Mike died at what was 2:20 a.m. his time on Tuesday; then as the evening goes on, I think, Mike was dead X hours at this time; I then awake on what is my Tuesday mornng, and at 7:00 a.m., I remember the call to my home and the voice saying "Mr. Stokely, this is Maj. Hulsey - please come to the door, you dog won't let us up the driveway and we need to speak to you" and then remembering my fast gait to the driveway and asking, before they can say anything "is my boy dead" and the the words they spoke, with humble sadness in the eyes of Maj. Hulsey and the Chaplin that was with him "we regret to inform you...." But the pain,while there, is more manageable. I think it must be like the rigors and harshness of war - it is always the same, you just adjust.
No pity for me is needed, for as a friend said to me, I am lucky to have a son who has brought such honor to his father and the entire family. My son was a man who had a heart that cared deeply for others, and they likewise cared for him. In all of this, so many stories of his simple kindness have been shared with us and touched us. My favorite is the one where he and his buddies had been on continuous duty for several days (their normal day was 22 hours long). He and one of his fellow soldiers had to pull guard duty after being on missions for that continuous period without any sleep. He told his buddy to take a nap and he would stand watch and then they would swap out. For the next six hours, he let his buddy sleep while he stood the whole watch.
We miss him so much. We hurt inside. But we burst with pride in our son and brother. His memory will not fade nor will our love for him. When Mike was just becoming a teenager, I tried to imagine what he would be one day. I often told people I wasn't sure where life would take him, but I knew he would do something different and be very well known in his chosen field. I never dreamed he would become an American Hero who would serve his country so well.
For whatever reason, the last few days what Cindy Sheehan said "Casey didn't die for a just cause" has been on my mind. Maybe it is because some people have felt comfortable enough four months out to ask me how I felt about Mike's death and whether I thought the cause was "just" enough to justify his sacrifice.
My response is that Mike didn't die for a "just cause", he died JUST BECAUSE - just because he loved his country enough to want to serve it since the time he was in middle school; just because he loved his family enough to want to protect them; just because he loved his friends enough that he would rather fight a war "there" than here; just because he believed in our order of government whereby the civilian government rules and the military obeys, and when the President, with lawful authority, calls upon soldiers to go and fight, he believed it was not only his duty, but his honor to go; just because he wouldn't let his fellow soldiers - his guys - go it alone; and just because he wanted to do for others - the Iraqi people - what he would do for his own country.
A good friend of our family, Charles Carmical, wrote these words in tribute to Mike - “Would I lay down my life for a country to defend? I willing would if it housed my family and friends."
Mike Stokely didn't die for a just cause, he died for a lot of just causes, including the ones I set out above. I wish I were fit to tie his shoe laces but I am fortunate enough to have a son who believed in God, family, duty, honor and country and who certainly turned out to be the better of the two of us.
Robert Stokely, Lucky and Proud to be the Dad of
SGT Michael "Mike" James Stokely, KIA Operation Iraqi Freedom 16 Aug 05
2nd Platoon, E Troop 108th CAV 48h Brigaded GA NATL GUARD
15 miles south of Baghdad near Yusufiyah / IED
(Original post: 2005-12-19 17:39:58)
You have every right to be proud of your son and the courageous effort he waged on behalf of our country. God bless you and your family, and may the memory of Mike's bravery comfort you all.
Mr. Stokley, We will forever be grateful to your son for his courage and to you for raising a son so noble. You will see him again one day -- and he will lead the Honor Guard that greets you. Until then, he will still be standing watch for his Brothers. Bless you all.Posted by Some Soldier's Mom at December 19, 2005 07:01 PM
Sir, I appreciate your son, and your families sacrifice in the War on Terror. As a veteran of the Beruit Bombing in 1983, I understand this is not a "new war" it's one we avoided for many years.
I cry for your son and the men and women dying today for my freedom the same as I cried for 241 Marines on that day in October.
Please accpet my heartfelt condolences and gratitude for what you have given for our country.
Our First Duty is to Remember.
Thank you Mr. Stokely.
Thank you to "Mike".
From the depth of my heart.
Thank you for what You Both ARE.
He is with You, He will always be with You.
Dear Mr. Stokely:
Please accept my heartfelt sympathy for your loss.
I am the father of three and cannot begin to fathom your loss; but I firmly believe that your son's sacrifice was for a good and noble purpose. He obviously beleived what he was doing was worth it, you believe that, and I firmly believe that right-thinking Americans believe this too.
Mr. Stokely thank you so much for raising such a fine soldier. I can not imagine what you have been through since that day, but I do know that your son is a fine hero in my eyes.
Thanks for sharing this with us. God Speed.Posted by stacy lee at December 19, 2005 08:34 PM
Godspeed Sgt. Stokely.
Mr. Stokely there are no sufficient words. What a wonderful young man you raised.Posted by Teresa at December 19, 2005 08:40 PM
Mr. Stokeley and your family,
It is we Americans who are respected by your dearest sacrifice. It is we Americans who are humbled by your son's noble and brave actions and sacred devotion to duty. It is we Americans who are proud of your family and their dedication and service to us all. It is we Americans who must praise your son's courage in the most difficult of endeavors. And it is we Americans who fall short in honoring his name and his memory.
I wish we were more worthy of the sacrifice young Mike made on our behalf. I wish we were better Men because of what Mike has done for us and for what you have given to your country in Her service. Your words give us all pause to reflect on what we can do to honor, to respect, to acclaim, to remember your son. Just Because he has shown us True Heroism, we can show that we appreciate his actions, we honor his dedication to duty, and we feel shame that we are not as great a Man as he. Just Because of your words, we will redouble our efforts to live our Lives with greater Honor towards our soldiers, greater respect towards our families, and greater Love towards our fellow Man. Mike has provided us the example. You have shown us this way.
Your family is in America's prayers, and on our minds every day. Thank you for offering so fine a Man to us. We will try to be worthy and will renew our efforts to support his comrades, his family, and his memory. God Bless You and grant you peace in time. We are grateful.
SubsunkPosted by Subsunk at December 19, 2005 08:45 PM
Please accept the heartfelt condolences of our family in the death of your son Sgt. Stokely. Mike now stands with those heros who have, for over 200 years, purchased and paid for freedom in America and around the world with their blood. His life will be honored in every place a flag flies over a country where democracy reigns.
We are a Marine Corps family and your family will be added to our prayers. Know that, in your time of grief, God will care for you and hold you close to His heart.
With our most sincere condolences,
Michael & Shirley Becker
My deepest sympathy for your loss. I am trying to raise a son to be an honorable man, one who will love his country and deeply value our freedoms. My fondest hope would be that he might become a man such as your son, caring, committed, and willing to serve to his utmost.
But I fear my own strength and dedication to that hope when considering the fate of your son, and the possible loss of mine. I greatly admire your courage and forebearance. You set a fine example yourself, and you very eloquently speak testament to your son and his sacrifice.
May God bless you sir, and your family and all of Mike's friends, and allow the cherished memory of your son continue to reverberate as his memory inspires others...Posted by dadmanly at December 19, 2005 09:21 PM
I cannot say anything to help ease the pain and grief you and your family have suffered. Please know that your sons sacrifice, and the reasons you state for it, will not be forgotten. I have tried for a very long time to explain why me, my wife, and all our friends chose to, and continue to, serve. You have given me the clear, simple definition; JUST BECAUSE. Thank you, for raising such a fine man, warrior, and inspiration. Thank you for putting his sacrifice so eloquently. May God comfort and bless you and your family.
Randy Robertson, SMSgt, USAF (ret)
Patty Robertson, Capt, USAF
Never forget that you raised your son. He is a direct reflection of your efforts, honor, and integrity. Stand tall and realize that what both of you accomplished has changed history for the better.
I would have proudly shared a foxhole with him, and rest assured b/c he is standing a post right now watching over you, your family, and the rest of us.
"And when i get to heaven.
St. Peter I will tell...
Just another soldier reporting sir,
I've already done my time in hell."
Mike, I'll see you on the high ground brother, you're a better man than I.Posted by rick at December 19, 2005 10:29 PM
I just simply don't have the words to adequately express my sympathy and appreciation for what your son and your family have sacrificed.
Whenever I read accounts like this it makes me want to be a better person. Like that final scene in Saving Private Ryan, I feel like I need to earn what men like your son have done on our behalf.Posted by Tony B at December 19, 2005 11:00 PM
No wonder you raised such an incredible son, Mr. Stokely. Your appreciation of, and pride in, your son are unmatched, except perhaps by your son's - in you.
I can't help but agree with Some Soldier's Mom: "You will see him again one day -- and he will lead the Honor Guard that greets you."
I, too, will strive to be worthy of your son's - and your - unspeakably painful sacrifice.
The world is a better place because of you and your son. God bless, and thank you.
LauraPosted by Laura at December 20, 2005 12:51 AM
what a wonderful tribute by an amazing father to his son. I greatly admire your son, and am humbled by his incredibly high standards and compassion. This is such a great and selfess sacrifice your son made. And you said it so beautifully. God Bless Mike Stokely.Posted by donna at December 20, 2005 01:42 AM
Mr. Stokely -
It's hard to write through my tears - your loss, your eloquence, reading of the heroism of your son Mike, your bravery and his, overcome me.
My heartfelt thanks go to you and your family, for the sacrifice you have made, and Mike's, to our great country.
He is an angel now and in the most caring of hands next to your's. God bless you.Posted by Cheryl at December 20, 2005 01:56 AM
Wow.... there is no way I can say anything any better than what has already been written above. There are just no words to convey the amount of gratitude, pride, and sorrow I feel.
Please know that your family is in our hearts and prayers daily.
Gosh, these few words are completely inadequate to convey all I'm thinking.....
Hang in there...we're with y'all 100% the whole way.
Kat & Jeff Orr
God bless your family and your magnificent son.Posted by Terry at December 20, 2005 04:10 AM
You are in our hearts and prayers,
PattiPosted by patti bader at December 20, 2005 04:16 AM
Sir, you my friend are an amazing man and raised a fine son who I would have personly looked up to by the way you descriped him. I hope my own son turns out to be like Mike. God bless you sir, you and Mike truly are heros,Posted by Rick, Tristans dad at December 20, 2005 05:23 AM
no words are sufficient to describe our country's gratitude for the sacrifice many make to protect those who don't even realize they are being protected
I cannot add anything to the above statements other than to give my deepest sympathies and utmost respect for your son and the parents who helped create his values. To all our soldiers, Thank You!
I wish we could express words that would adequately comfort you in your loss of your beautiful son or words that would sufficiently express our gratitude for his courageous service. I can only promise that my children know and appreciate the magnitude of his and your sacrifice and we will each honor him by being good patriots. May God continue to bless you and your family.Posted by Ryan& Kim's mom at December 20, 2005 06:07 AM
Thankyou for this wonderful tribute to your son, I can hardly see through my tears. We are so sorry for your loss. This family tries every day to be worthy of the sacrice of our Military men and women, we don't take it for granted. God bless you and your family.
Diana and Peter in San Antonio, Texas.
As a parent of two young sons, there are so many things I want to say to you to help comfort your pain and your loss. But, of all of the words from which to choose, only two have the most meaning at a time like this: "Thank You."
Thank you for raising your son to be a fine, young man who was clearly dedicated to friends, family and country. Indeed, you should be proud of your son - he was a true hero in so many respects. When my boys are old enough to understand the stakes of this global conflict we wage against our enemy, I will tell them about SGT Michael "Mike" James Stokely. In the meantime, I am comforted knowing that my family is made safer by the actions of those who follow your son's - and ultimately your - example of service.
And finally, thank you for sharing your story with us. We are grateful for your words which both honor your son and also provide the reader with humbled optimism. As I tuck my children into bed, I will always remember the sacrifices of our courageous fighting forces and why it is they do what they do.
God bless.Posted by Skywarner at December 20, 2005 06:30 AM
"...The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced..."
President Abraham Lincoln
Surely, as many have mentioned, our power to add or detract, with our mere words, from the honor your son Michael's service and sacrifice has brought to your family and to the whole of this nation is so limited I am tempted to remain silent. Rather, I feel it is more fitting to let the timeless words of President Lincoln remind us all that we are always to be "dedicated to the great task before us...that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion"...Freedom!
May God Bless the Stokely family, and may you feel the love, support and peace of a grateful nation.
Gene & Betty EganPosted by Gene Egan at December 20, 2005 07:02 AM
Dear Mr. Stokely:
Your son transformed the world for the better.
Your son also created freedom where there was none before. He conjured it out of thin air.
Your son was a magician, but a real one, like the great Merlin.
Your son's magic will live forever, and so will he.Posted by Tom W. at December 20, 2005 07:06 AM
Mr Stokely, thank you for raising such a fine young man. This nation will survive only as long as the true patriots like Mike are willing to stand against the evil in this world.
My son was killed in a stupid auto crash at age 21. I'd rather he'd been killed in Iraq, even died on patrol with Mike. My condolences sir, and cherish his commitment everyday.Posted by Ed Poinsett at December 20, 2005 07:23 AM
I want to thank you for raising such an awesome son! I am so without words.To say how I know how you feel is a complete joke, However, I lost my sister, not in a war, but in a car wreck, I lost my mind for a couple years, as it was so sudden and unexpected. But a good friend told me, and I hope you do not think me heartless, but it helped me so, that the pain gets softer, I cannot explain it, but it helped me. I pray for you, I pray for my soldiers. I am so very sorry this happened to you.Posted by Laurie at December 20, 2005 07:30 AM
There is NO way I can give a better tribute to you, your wife than has been given. You are the proud parents of a very good noble gracious son who made not only YOU proud but every American Proud, that our country can produce such wonderful young people. I myself have 2 daughters in the military of which I am extremely proud of. But I don't know that I would have the courage to stand as you have if I were to lose one or even both of them. God bless YOU and your family!
You are a better man than I , I fear, because I don't really know what my reaction would be. YOU make HIM stand TALL because you are doing HIM RIGHT.
Merry Christmas and may God be with you.
You raised a hero sir. No small feat in this world. Thank you for sharing part of his life with us. My father died when I was a teenager. The pain lessens with time. And the good memorys remain and bring comfort. Sometimes in dreams I see him still, decades later. And the gratefulness that this person was part of my life, though shorter then I would have wanted, I would not trade it for anything. He is part of what I am. As your son is always part of you. Nothing can take that away, not even death.Posted by GS at December 20, 2005 08:12 AM
Mere words are a small consolation for your loss, but I will try. I am a Veteran of Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Going to war was alot easier than telling Mom. Though very proud of my service, she always dreaded my being deployed to far away, dangerous places. She never waivered in her support of our mission and understood that we are in this war for good reasons...about 3000 to be exact. You have every right to be proud, and don't ever let moonbats like Cindy Sheehan try to tell you otherwise.
SFC Cheryl McElroy
"I am a Soldier, I fight where I am told, and I win where I fight." --General George S. Patton Jr.
Thank you. May God comfort you and your family and keep you in His loving care.Posted by Tim Lawlor at December 20, 2005 12:42 PM
Mr. Stokely your son was a true hero. He died so I could hold my 18 month old daughter and know that the world she grows up in will be safer from maniacal dictators like Sadaam Hussein.
Were it not for the bravery of your son and thousands like him, that heartless killer would still be sitting on his throne.
THere is alot of work yet to be done in this war to end all wars, but your son played a crucial role.
Of course, the "other side" would prefer to have you believe that we would have been safer and more comfortable thrusting our heads in the dirt, and ignoring the growing, horrific threats that manifested on 9-11.
They are wrong.
Bless you and your family, and your wonderful, brave son. Who needs comic books and hollywood when we have guys like Mike.Posted by TMF at December 20, 2005 01:09 PM
tears came to my eyes when reading your letter.
The proudest day of my life was when my youngest son enlisted.
No words I can say will express how we should feel for your son's honor.Posted by yochanan at December 20, 2005 01:27 PM
Sir, I am deeply moved by your words. He really is a wonderful son and we were lucky to have him for the time we did. Men like you raise men like Mike.
With warmest Regards,
Rick@LandstuhlPosted by Rick@Landstuhl at December 20, 2005 01:34 PM
To Mr. Stokely and Family: if not for your son and all our honorable soldiers the world would be lost in the rot of totalitarian decay. I am eternally grateful to have been born to a nation whose finest families raise such courageous people.
May God comfort your suffering and may Sgt Michael "Mike" Stokely's indomitable spirit soar in freedom's eternal light.Posted by susan at December 20, 2005 01:36 PM
How blessed we Americans are by your gifts--the gift of your son and the gift of your letter. I regret that I did not know your son and that I will probably never meet you. I relish the day when we can all join hands in the presence of our Lord and sing His praises. God bless you and may you know all the joys of the Christmas season--every one of them!
What can one say after that? A respectful silence, followed by my wholly inadequate thanks for your son and your words, and a sincere wish that God bless you, your son and your family...Posted by David M. Frost at December 20, 2005 01:50 PM
Thank you for sharing your grief with us. You are rightfully proud of your son. He was a brave and a wonderful man and he deserves the adulation of us all.
I'm one of the lucky ones. My daughter returned last week from her deployment in Iraq. She enlisted for the same reasons as Mike and when asked if she had a choice what she would do, she unhesitatingly said she'd go back again. It is by heros like these that our nation is being protected. I thank God every day for our brave men and women in uniform. And I pray God will give you peace in your loss.Posted by Rich Dahlen at December 20, 2005 02:11 PM
Words fail me at the sight of your courage. As the father of a young daughter, I can only imagine the pain and suffering your family has endured at your loss. Your son IS a hero. He gave his life to protect the life of my child. That is something I will never forget, and I will do my best to ensure my daughter understands that. And as she grows up, she will cary forth that duty, to protect those who come after her. May the Lord help you find comfort during these dark days, and for all time. God bless you, your son, and all our soldiers.
Thank you.Posted by Edward Mikulski at December 20, 2005 02:24 PM
My most heartfelt condolences on the loss of your son Michael.
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it, And--which is more--you'll be a Man, my son!
Scott Ingram, EW1
"Stand tall Sir"Posted by willie at December 20, 2005 02:43 PM
Dear Mr. Stokely,
May God shine His blessings on you always, Sir.
I just read your courageous gift to us all. Thank you for both Mike and your letter. I am going to read it to my three sons and eight grandchildren on Christmas eve to let them 'hear and feel' what two heroes sound like.
Dear Mr. Stokely,
From the bottom of my heart I want to thank you for sharing your deeply personal thoughts about your beautiful son, Michael. I wish you and your family peace of spirit and the continued courage and wisdom to carry on. My wife, children and I offer our ceaseless prayers of gratitude that angels such as your son and his buddies selflessly serve so that we may live lives of liberty and freedom. God Bless you and your son, Sgt. Michael James Stokely. You are in our thoughts and his example reminds me of what true heroes are; it is a lesson I hope I can sufficiently pass on to my own children. Yours truly, Adam Beckerman, NYC
Mr Stokely , I will be a new father soon and have often thought about how I would feel if my son decided to fight for his country and made the ultimate sacrifice as your son did. Your letter is deeply touching, and instructive for a new father.
I was born in Cuba and my family fled Castro's revolution in the 60's. We know a thing or two about tyranny and how to fight it. We all have a deep love for this country and are grateful to its citizens for embracing us as they did. Your son , you , and great Amercians like you are what keeps us from the abyss.
Your son is in our prayers
Mr. Stokely, thank you. For your beautiful tribute to your son, which made me cry, for your sacrifice, and for raising such an incredible American hero. The world is rjicher for his having passed through, for however a brief time.
You not only are "fit to tie his shoelaces," you taught him how. And for that, you yourself are an American hero. God bless you and comfort you.Posted by mommydoc at December 20, 2005 03:13 PM
This is the real America and the real Americans. God bless you and your brave son.Posted by Buster at December 20, 2005 03:26 PM
Thank you Mr. Stokley. Thank you. Thank you.Posted by Ron Jones at December 20, 2005 03:30 PM
As a father of two young children whose world will be safer because of your son's service and sacrifice, it is I who am unworthy of untying his laces or yours. Having raised such a man as Mike, now carrying his memory and suffering such unspeakable pain, you are just as much a hero as your son.
I wish you the peace and comfort that only Our Creator can provide.
Again, sir, I humbly thank you.
WaynePosted by wayne at December 20, 2005 03:42 PM
What a beautiful tribute! Thank you for telling your story and the story of Mike's heroism. I hope Mike and all like him can hear the great chorus of prayers and thanks your letter has generated.Posted by Just Some Guy at December 20, 2005 03:45 PM
Thank you.Posted by Mr. Snitch! at December 20, 2005 03:53 PM
More Abraham Lincoln quotes seem appropriate. In a letter to a mother who had reportedly lost five sons in the US Civil War, Abraham Lincoln is said to have written the following:
"I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save.
I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom."
My family's most sincere and prayerful thanks go to you and your family for having blessed this nation with the likes of your son.
Our Deepest Sympathies,
The Young Family, Alpharetta, GAPosted by The Young Family, GA at December 20, 2005 03:53 PM
I now have a son and a new one on the way. I can not imagine the pain and suffering you have gone through in raising your son. Nor can I imagine the pain you have for the lose of your son. I do want you to know that there are many of us who will always and forever be thankful for a son like yours. I hope and pray my son and next child shall be as strong and well minded as yours was. Thank you for bring into this world something better that the world was before.
Dear Mr Stokely and family
I'm sorry for your loss, and thank you for sharing your thoughts.
The whole civilised world, those who love and respect human life, owe you all a great debt.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
To be worthy of Mike's sacrifice is my goal. What a beautiful and brave boy and what a terrible loss you have suffered. We hold that loss with you with grateful hearts and sadness that Mike didn't make it.Posted by Helene at December 20, 2005 04:03 PM
To be worthy of Mike's sacrifice is my goal. What a beautiful and brave boy and what a terrible loss you have suffered. We hold that loss with you with grateful hearts and sadness that Mike didn't make it.Posted by Helene at December 20, 2005 04:03 PM
My biggest fear, as a father of two girls, is always that I will lose them before I myself should go.
To know, though, that your son, a hero in his own right, is now with our God. In serving with distinction to protect his country, your son's memory will not be lost or for not, and that although we grieve with you we also honor you for the son that you raised.
Amen to you, and may your heart be at peace.Posted by Scott Van Meter at December 20, 2005 04:08 PM
I cannot say how much I admire your son and your entire family. I promise you there is a God in heaven, and you shall all be united again when the just shall prevail and all the righteous shall be together forever.
God continue to bless you.Posted by K at December 20, 2005 04:10 PM
Thank you for your sacrifice. May God bless you and your family.Posted by Htown at December 20, 2005 04:21 PM
God Bless you Sir and your family. We will not forget your Son's service and We Honor him as you have.
Cdr, VFW Post 9949
Thank you Mike. I will never forget the sacrifices you and your family have made. God bless you, your family, and God bless the USA.Posted by Erich Gierhart at December 20, 2005 04:27 PM
My brother, Lt. James G. Aubrey USAF, was killed overseas. I was in the Army at the time and that helped, a bit. Everybody understood.
I can tell you that it gets better, although it certainly doesn't seem possible now. Eventually, your memories will be a warm place of comfort.
As you know, Soldiers have a special place, close to The Throne.
The rest of us must summon our patience, as we grow old and slow and the years become a burden. But we know we will meet our loved ones again. There will be no more tears.Posted by Richard Aubrey at December 20, 2005 04:27 PM
God bless you and the incredible American you raised, Sgt. Mike Stokley. I echo all of the tributes in the preceeding posts and pray that you will find peace and happiness this holy season.Posted by PR at December 20, 2005 04:40 PM
I wish I were fit to tie his shoe laces but I am fortunate enough to have a son who believed in God, family, duty, honor and country and who certainly turned out to be the better of the two of us.
Mr. Stokely, I have to respectfully disagree with that statement. You raised that man to be what he became and should be proud of yourself as well. From my experience in relation to my own father, it's incredably easy to be an honorable person when a father has shown you how. Thank you, sir, for providing this country with a man such as Mike.Posted by a different Bill at December 20, 2005 04:44 PM
I cannot honor or thank you and your son and all the others enough.
I'll do my best to live a life worthy of their sacrifices.
God bless you.Posted by Brad at December 20, 2005 04:52 PM
Sir, I have been a Georgia Guardsman for 25 years but have never had to face or sacrifice what your son bravely faced and sacrificed. Your letter encourages a sense of humble obligation to try to live up to the example of Mike the his fellow 48th Brigade heros.Posted by Bill Brockman at December 20, 2005 04:53 PM
Thank you for the fine young man you raised.
We appreciate your efforts, and Mike's, to make this world a place where we can raise our children in freedom and safety.
We appreciate your efforts, and Mike's, to engage in that most perfectly American of ambitions: to liberate the oppressed, fight tyranny, and defend the noblest ideals civilization ever produced.
May America honor you and Mike the way you and Mike have honored us.
After 21 years of service and my dad asking me to get out, my son signs up and I realize the fear and the pride of a father who sees a child grow up and risk all their hopes and dreams for something as intangible as FREEDOM!
My God ease your burden and comfort you in the long dark hours until dawn. May he bless you and keep you close. He had a need for a Soldier more than you did a son. I weep for your loss.
In honor of your son I just made a donation to the Fallen Patriot Fund through the link on the right of this page.
I can not express how grateful I am to you, your son and everyone in the military. My heart bursts with pride when I read about our brave soldiers and their sacrifice for their fellow citizens.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Glad to see Robert has been telling Mike's story more widely.Posted by McGehee at December 20, 2005 05:01 PM
Your son's values are a reflection of yours, sir. I thank you for your sacrifice. May God hold you in comfort all your days.Posted by Maggie45 at December 20, 2005 05:06 PM
Often I have heard myself saying how glad I am we're fighting this war now so that my young son (almost 4) won't have to fight it when he's eighteen or twenty. How guilty I feel now about having said that, and how terrible I feel that you have had to make this sacrifice, and that your son so early on (far too early on) made his. I know I don't have a tenth of your courage and stalwartness; nevertheless, I hope that I can teach my son to have a fraction of your son's character and dedication. I believe in what we're doing over there, but like any parent, I am terrified of one thing in life (and really only one thing): losing my child. I can't imagine your grief. I will tell my child one day that it is because of people like you and your son that he has choices; has freedom; is safe.
Dear Mr. Stokely,
My heart breaks in reading your post. As my then 11 year-old son and I held hands and said a prayer on Sept. 11, 2001 after the South Tower came down, I started thinking what the years ahead would bring.
All these years later your brave and honorable son has stood guard for my son and I. My family will always thank him and you for the greatest measure of sacrifice. You made your son into a wonderful man.
May God bless your whole family.
Los Gatos, CA
My heart is nearly ready to burst with grief and pride after reading your eloquent words. Thank you for sharing them. Your son, his friends, and you and your family have my profound gratitude for this ultimate sacrifice. You are in my prayers.
So many above have echoed the sentiments that I feel too, and I can only say "Thank you" Mr. Stokely for sharing Mike's story. I have two young sons, and they sleep in peace at night because men like Mike are standing on a wall, "between their homes and the War's desolation."
For the rest of us, I would only echo another set of words, and that is "Earn this".
I hope we all re-dedicate ourselves to the cause that Mike Stokely and others have paid for with their last full measure of devotion. We all can't go to Iraq and serve bravely like Mike did, but we can be better Americans.
Vaya con Dios, Mr. Stokely. I close now, as there's something in my eyes,and I cannot see well.
Many thanks to both Mr. Stokleys.
Please know that my 3-year old daughter, safe because of your hero son and his fellow warriors, will grow to understand the debt we owe them, and will honor their memory.
There are no words adequate to express my gratitude to all these beautiful and brave sons and daughters.Posted by John Born at December 20, 2005 05:37 PM
my condolences to you and your family, and my deepest gratitude to your son.
Reading your account of your son's service and death made me cry. I wish I had words to console you, but let me at least say how profoundly grateful I am to you and your son.
In honor of you and in honor of your son's memory, I have made a contribution to The Fallen Patriot's Fund.
Jamie IronsPosted by Jamie Irons at December 20, 2005 05:58 PM
Your letter is wonderful. You are justly proud of your son, you and your family have my deepest sympathy.Posted by Doug Olenick at December 20, 2005 06:02 PM
Men like your son insure that those of us given the responsibilty to lead soldiers will do so with all the respect, professionalism and care we are able. To serve with such men is an honor. Our prayers are with you.Posted by Major John at December 20, 2005 06:07 PM
Sgt. Michael James Stokely, I salute you. Thank you for your devoted service and ultimate sacrifice. It's warriors like you who make this country great and assure us we will overcome the forces of evil.
Stokely family: Thank you for raising Mike and sharing his story with us. G-d bless you and Mike. My thoughts and prayers are with you.Posted by Larry Lynn, Maj., USAF (ret) at December 20, 2005 06:31 PM
I would write more if I could wipe the tears out of my eyes long enough. What an incredibly powerful tribute to a son and a soldier. God Bless you and your family.Posted by Steve Miller at December 20, 2005 06:32 PM
What an amazing, touching and humbling tribute to your son. While I do not know you, know that I have prayed for you and your son since the war began. I am so proud to be an American and even prouder to know that men like your son still exsist in our very topsy-turvey self consuming, ego driven world.
God Bless Your Son and your family...you are all hero's.Posted by Samantha Perry at December 20, 2005 06:48 PM
God Bless you and your family, sir.
It's a bit difficult to type with tears streaming down my cheeks. I could not be any more proud of your son and all our brave military.
Please accept my heartfelt condolences for you loss.Posted by kelly at December 20, 2005 07:14 PM
God Bless your family, and God Bless Mike, Thank YOU!Posted by Nate at December 20, 2005 07:14 PM
Dear Mr. Stokely,
I read and feel every word of what you wrote about your beloved son.
I cried too. My heart goes to you, with a humble thank you for
your family courage and supreme sacrifice.
God bless you,
Graciela Cattarossi.Posted by Graciela Cattarossi at December 20, 2005 09:08 PM
Dear Mr. Stokely:
To you and your entire family, I want to say thank you for your sacrifice. Thank you for raising a young man who was willing to fight for our freedom and that of others.
Crystal SiegelPosted by Crystal Siegel at December 20, 2005 09:14 PM
There was a time when American society was capable of taking responsibility, accepting difficult and dangerous missions, and doing what had to be done. Sadly a large portion of my generation of pampered baby-boomers were completely and permanently broken by the 60s-70s and Vietnam. No, not the ones who fought in 'nam and "lost," but the ones who fought against "the man" and power structure running the war and "won." That "victory" seems to have utterly stunted the growth of a whole generation.
In the past 20 years, since that generation reached the age when they should actually BE "the man," all they can do is whine and complain and find fault. This is plainly evident in the mainstream media, michael moore types, university campuses (the professors, mind you), and the politicians "running" our country. The notion of even the smallest sacrifice is not in their heads or hearts. These are not responsible and honorable adults; these are selfish babies. Cindy Sheehan is a self-obsessed attention whore that Dr. Spock would be proud of.
On the other hand, your son Mike was a responsible and honorable adult, willing to risk sacrifice. How tragic that in situations like this we always lose our best. I never had to fight but I want you to know that I appreciate Mike's sacrifice. I don't know what Mike believed, but I believe we are at the beginning of a culture war on a global scale like none that's come before. The place to start fighting it on the ground is in the middle east. The way to start fighting culturally is to give proper due to heroes like your son who fight and die on the front line.
I'm 53 years old. I first read the Gettysburg Address in high school, like everybody else. But I never had the smallest understanding of it until I came to know about men like your son Mike. And now I understand why it is among the truest and most important couple of sentences ever written in the English language.
God bless Mike and all of you family. And thank you.
Jack FriedmanPosted by Jack Friedman at December 20, 2005 10:03 PM
Thank you for sharing his story so that we can remember Mike, too. You are in my thoughts and prayers.Posted by MaryAnn at December 20, 2005 10:06 PM
God Bless you, words can never thank you enough for the sacrifice of your son for our freedom. I want you to know I honor his memory and say a prayer for him. He was one of the Best, the pride of the USA> May God keep you and your family comforted in his loving arms.
And Thank you Mike Stokley.
As an american citzen by choice, I can only thank you for raising such a brave son. He and all the other fallen heroes of all wars made this Blessed country a safer haven for people like me, who come from different lands.
May the Sweet Lord give Mike eternal rest by His side, and may He, give you the peace you deserve.
May the sweet memories of Mike be with you until the end. God bless you, my prayers and thanks go to you and your family.
I can't remember a more moving and more powerful posting as this one. My heart goes out to you sir, and to your family.Posted by Vladimir at December 20, 2005 11:06 PM
Thank You my Brother, the time is short till you see him again.Posted by Bob in Colorado at December 20, 2005 11:07 PM
"Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."Posted by SDN at December 20, 2005 11:39 PM
Such solemn pride...must be yours for having laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.
Not my words, but those of Abraham Lincoln.
God bless your family, and may your son rest in the sight of God evermore.
Just another vet.Posted by Steve at December 20, 2005 11:48 PM
God bless you and Mike. I am so proud of you, proud of him, and proud to be an American. You are surely blessed to have such a son, and I wish you all the best as you deal with your loss. May God continue to give you strength -- I can see that He already has.
I once read that a Marine parent's heart carries equal measures of pride and pain. It must be true for all of us who give our very best...our sons and daughters. May God grant you comfort such that the pride will overtake the pain.
Thank you for sharing so well "why" he served. I will use it in my own "arsenal" when I am asked about my two United States Marines. Very well said, sir.Posted by Dorothy at December 21, 2005 12:58 AM
Dear Mr. Stokely,
I heard your tribute on the Hugh Hewitt show today and had to read it again. My 19 year old son is serving as a Cav Scout right now in Iraq. I, too, am immensely proud of what he is doing. He told us about how the interpreter for his troop must hide his face and not carry Iraqui ID for his family's safety and how that precaution cost him the opportunity to vote in this election. My son was upset as he felt this man should have been allowed to vote because he really cares about his country and his people - he wants to see his country be a FREE country. WOW! What our military men and women are doing is RIGHT, JUST and VERY, VERY IMPORTANT!! Not just for our safety, but because what we have someone else EARNED for us and are keeping it safe for us even now. My son believes in freedom and in helping others, too weak, to fight for freedom.
Thank you for sharing this with so many! We have a right to be proud of our military and an obligation to honor them! May you and your family be blessed - I'm sure it is very difficult to go through this; but know that many, many prayers are with you!
Proud Mom of a Cav Scout serving in Iraq
A beautiful tribute to your son! On behalf of my children: Benjamin (of blessed memory), Kimberly and Zachary I thank your son for his supreme sacrifice and I thank his parents for having raised such a fine son! I am ...
Very Sincerely yours,
Alan D. Busch
c/o Thebookofben.blogspot.comPosted by alan aka avrum ben avrum at December 21, 2005 03:18 AM
I am an openly gay man living in a country in which I am not imprisoned, or stoned to death for being so. I owe that freedom to Sgt. Stokely and every other soldier, marine, sailor, and pilot that has ever worn a uniform of the United States of America.
Not all of us hate this country.
Thank you Mike, and thank all of you in uniform.
-Mike HowardPosted by Michael Howard at December 21, 2005 03:47 AM
Dear Mr. Stokely
Your posted thoughts have obviously touched many of us deeply. Hopefully we will each find ways to repay the debt owed to your family.
Good morning, sir. The next time you talk to Mike tell him the all the people at FreeRepublic.com want to say thanks.
We stand beside you and posted your letter on the forum. May God rest his soul.
(Hottieboy) David GibsonPosted by David gibson at December 21, 2005 01:28 PM
I am so humbled by these words, there are no words. I will never measure up to a young man who died for my country. I will never measure up to this family and can only hope that my children take their place in the long green line of soldiers who have stood by our flag under arms.Posted by GBorman at December 21, 2005 02:57 PM
After reading about your son, Mr. Stokley, and the comments posted, I know that nothing I add can more eloquently. I am truly sorry about the much too soon loss of your son, Mike. My thoughts and prayers are with you.Posted by Beth at December 21, 2005 04:39 PM
Your words leave me in awe and sorrow. I am sorry that Freedom visited upon your family it's terrible price, but I thank God that you raised up the boy who became the man who answered the call with honor and dignity. May God bless you with the peace that surpasses all understanding. I am now under the burden of your example of fatherhood. Remington is 19 months old, beautiful, curious, and a hand full. I pray God will let me be the kind of Father you are. Thank you Sir. God Bless You
I don't know what to say to so much kindness and honor bestowed upon Mike and our family. So, please allow me to just say thank you for being kind to my son, me and the entire Stokely family.
God Bless America and God Bless our Troops who continue the work of Freedom.
Dad, SGT Mike Stokely KIA 16 Aug 05 Iraq
My condolences to your family. I too lost a son although to an auto accident. Mark, 29 years old, was killed on Sept. 14th 2005. My world seemed to come to an end that day so I have some idea of what you and your family are going through at this time. Your letter brightened my day and made me proud to be an American. Mike gave his life so that we can enjoy our freedoms and so that the nation of Iraq will have the chance to do the same. I think we both know that Cindy Sheehan is also heart broken from her lose but the difference is that You decided to honor Mike and she decided not to honor her son. May Christmas bring a little peace to you and remember that Mike will not be forgotten in our hearts. I will light a candle for him at the gravesite of my son on Christmas Eve.
Posted by Ron Donahue at December 21, 2005 07:28 PM
I know that there are no words that can take away the feelings of loss that you have, but I hope that the pride you have in your son will help ease it a little and knowing that it is you and your son that have helped to restore some of the faith that has been lost in this country. You son and the men serving have renewed my faith and made me again proud to be an AMERICAN. Please know Mike is watching over us still and that his sacrifice was not in vane. I will pass your tribute to him to my children and grandchildren so that they know what a "REAL HERO" is.
God Bless and Merry Christmas Sir to you and your family.
DenisePosted by Denise Hauser at December 21, 2005 10:31 PM
God bless you and God bless your son.
I am so-o-o-o-o proud of you and your son and the rest of your family.
I will pray for you.Posted by Christopher T. Hicks at December 22, 2005 02:16 AM
Listen people, we need to get this out. Spread it around. show your family and friends, people need to read about SGT Michael "Mike" James Stokely. We need to counter the "cindy sheehans" and show pther that true heros are are fighting for freedom and raising sons like SGT Michael "Mike" James Stokely. Keep saying his name " SGT Michael "Mike" James Stokely " let the rest of Ameica know him and thank his father and family for raising a true hero for all of us to look up to. This man SGT Michael "Mike" James Stokely should be talked about every day and he should be admierd for being who he was and is. Spread the word let his name be shouted all over America!! SGT Michael "Mike" James Stokely a friend of freedom loving Americans.Posted by Rick, Tristans dad at December 24, 2005 07:58 AM
Normally, I am one of the more-verbose commenters here at Mudville, but all the verbosity I can muster would not do justice to the valor of SGT Stokely ... and the wisdom of his family, as evidenced in the life and actions of their son.
All I can say is ... thank you, SGT Stokely.
And thank you, Robert, and the rest of the Stokely family.
May the rest of us, through our conduct, honor ... and not squander ... what you have given us, at such a cost to you.
Reading your post during this Christmas season reminded me not only of how the Virgin Mary gave birth to Christ, but also how she watched her son die on a cross. I believe there is no doubt that God in heaven understands your great sorrow; and I know many of us our praying that He will give you and your family comfort. Your son followed in the footsteps of the one whose birth we celebrate this December; he laid down his life for others. May you find peace knowing your son, a hero, has seen the face of God.
Thank you for honoring your son and us with this wonderful tribute. God bless you and your family, Sir. Y'all will be in my prayers.Posted by MissBirdlegs in AL at December 25, 2005 07:41 PM
Not only are YOU proud, WE as a country are proud of Mike and men like him who stand up for what they believe and protect the country and the families they love. You are a fortunate family indeed to have raised someone of this caliber!
A grateful GeorgianPosted by Meatnie at December 26, 2005 03:14 AM
Sir, As the son of a WWII Navy Chief, and after having served 28 years in the Air Force, I am humbled by your strength and the strength of your son's convictions. May God bless Mike and your family. You and yours will be in my prayers.
L. Zerull, Col USAF (ret)Posted by Zman at December 26, 2005 11:35 AM
I know Robert Stokely very well and I am in awe of his strength and that of his family's. My son served with Mike in E Troop and was deeply affected by his death. He considered Mike to be his closest buddy. Their lives almost mirrored each other. Each were affected by the events of 9/11; each were in ROTC in college; and each held a firm belief in God, country, and family. Recently my son spoke of Mike's death and commented that no one should help put their best friend into a body bag and travel with him to the morgue. On October 20, 2005 my son was severely injured south of Baghdad. Mike strongly believed in protecting his buddies. The only way that my son and that of his buddies were saved that night had to have come from God and Mike spreading his wings of protection around all of them. All who witnessed the explosion and the ensuing trouble getting my son and the others evacuated to Baghdad agree that all should have died. All of us who know the Stokelys have become better people as a result of knowing Mike and his family and their bravery. Mike and his family will be forever in my prayers.
Proud Army Mom of Spc. Elijah Carroll
E Troop 108 Cavalry 48 BCT Georgia National Guard