Rick is one of five boys. He's the oldest, so the other four are younger than him. His youngest brother is 8 years younger than him so they were all really close in age growing up. It's great watching Addie interact with each of her uncles because they're so caring and protective of her and she loves them all so much. But there's one uncle Addie never got to meet, her uncle Nick.
Nick was the middle child, just 4 years younger Rick and was always the boy with a smile. He had the biggest heart, the most energy, and there was never a person who met Nick that didn't instantly love him. Nick joined the Army after graduating high school in 2003.
He was based out of Fort Benning, GA in the Air Assault unit. In 2004 he began his 1 year tour in Iraq and would send emails, letters, and call us all as often as he could. We sent him care packages full of snacks and items from home to keep his spirits up. In January 2005, he got to come home for 2 weeks of leave. Days before he was to return to Iraq, Columbus was hit with a huge ice storm delaying all flights out of the airport for several days. We were all so excited because we were gifted with a handful of extra days we got to spend with him. Soon the ice began to melt and he eventually had to catch that flight back to Iraq. We all said our goodbye's and shared lots of hugs & kisses, telling him we'd see him in a few months when his tour in Iraq would end in June.
Unfortunately, Nick didn't make it to June. His Humvee ran over an IED on May 8, 2005. May 8th fell on a Sunday in 2005, Mother's Day. We were all informed by the Army that Nick died that day and we wouldn't get to hug him again or hear his upbeat personality or see him come bouncing through the door. It has been the hardest day any of us has ever experienced so far in life.
Today marks 8 years since Nick passed away. Some days the hardest part is knowing Addie will never get a chance to meet him, to hug him & kiss him and play with him. She'll never get a chance to be adored by him because we all know the two of them would have been quite the pair. We have a picture of Nick hanging in our living room and Addie knows it's her uncle Nick. We'll continue to talk about Nick and share pictures with her. One day when she's old enough we'll tell her what happened and how important his life was not only to the one's who knew him best but also to America. And to Addie.