Thursday, October 28, 2010

Remember and Honour Sgt 1st Class Christopher Speer - with UPDATE testimony

Sgt First Class Christopher Speer is an American hero who was killed in August 2002. As I write here, the terrorist who is responsible for Speer's death sits in GITMO, having finally admitted in a military courtroom that he is the murderer most of us have always known he is. Today, he is not my focus. The husband, father, brother, son and hero is who I want to share with you.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Who Is SFC Christopher J. Speer?

"Six days before he received the wounds that killed him, Sgt. 1st Class Christopher J. Speer walked into a minefield to rescue two wounded Afghan children, according to fellow soldiers. He applied a tourniquet to one child and bandaged the other, they said. Then he stopped a passing military truck to take the wounded children to a U.S. Army field hospital. Speer saved those children, his colleagues said.
Speer, a Special Forces medic, suffered a head wound during a search of the Ab Khail village in Afghanistan on July 27. He was evacuated to Germany, where he died Aug. 6. He was 28.


Soldier remembered for Courage, Humor, Faith

A former medic with the 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne)

Soldiers from Headquarters U.S. Army Special Operations
carry the body of Sgt. 1st Class Christopher
J. Speer from the Village Chapel in Pinehurst
, NC
on Tuesday

On Tuesday, Speer was remembered as a capable and confident soldier with an unflappable sense of humor. When the chips were down, friends said, he could pick up his co-workers with a smile and a laugh.

They remembered him as a loving husband and father who had a sparkle in his eyes whenever he talked about his family.

Survived by Wife, Tabitha, two small children, Taryn and Tanner and brother Todd

Chaplain Keith Jackson escorts

Christopher Speer’s wife, Tabitha, from the church.

Todd, his older brother and fellow soldier, said Christopher Speer was a "hero, not only for his professional conduct, but his family life. There's not more you can ask.
"I look up to him."

Before deploying to Afghanistan, Speer wrote notes to his wife, Tabitha, and their two small children, Taryn and Tanner, Jackson said.

"You are always on my mind and forever in my heart."
He wrote a note to his children on a card that had two whispering puppies on the cover, Jackson said. One puppy said to the other, "Do you want to know a secret?"
The card said, "I love you."

Speer then wrote, "It's no secret how much I love you. Take care of each other.

"Love Daddy"


Christopher's widow has remained very low profile since her beloved husband was killed, but on the Fallen Heroes Memorial site, I found this:

"I was given the honor of not only knowing Chris, I spent the happiest years of my life with him. We married and had two beautiful children. Chris made all my dreams come true, it was as though he completed me. It has been two years and seven months since his death and I still find it hard to believe that he won't be coming home. Our Daughter is now almost six, she talks about her Daddy constantly, our Son who is three has so much trouble understanding why his Daddy won't be coming home! He asks for his Daddy daily, can he see me? Does he hear me? Can he hold my hand if I reach up to Heaven? Will he come home after he's done in Heaven? My Daughter and I do our best to answer his questions.
We miss you so much and love you more than any words could ever possibly express. I can see you in their faces, with each and every smile and silly little smirk. You are so alive in them both, it amazes me! We have a little three year old version of you, he becomes more and more like you every day. They both have your sense of humor and are always smiling.
We love you, you are our true HERO!
I Love You Today, Tomorrow and Forever!"

To read some of the other comments from those who knew and love this hero, is to get a small measure of the huge loss. You can find them here.

I heard last night that Tabitha is in GITMO. I am not sure if she will give an impact statement at this time, but I found this:

...she plans to speak at his sentencing hearing, people close to her say.

In a powerful indication of her unbreakable devotion to the man she married in 1997, she continued to pay the bill of his cellular phone after his death so she could hear him speak in voice mail, a confidante told Postmedia News.

"Any time the children wish to talk to Daddy, we send helium balloons into the sky," she wrote in a 2005 affidavit about Taryn, now 11, and Tanner, who was not yet a year old when his father died from the wounds he suffered in the firefight in Afghanistan...(read more here)

Tabitha Speer and Sgt Layne Morris - who was injured in the fight that killed his friend, - launched a civil suit against the murderer's family:

...Tabitha Speer's victim impact statement painfully described the days after her husband's death and how she had told her two young children that their dad wasn't coming home. "Any time the children wish to talk to daddy we send helium balloons into the sky," she wrote. "The children talk to their daddy each night before they go to bed, gazing up at the stars."

"Surviving every day without Christopher has been utter hell."...

The Khadr family was ordered to pay $102 million, but patriarch Ahmed Said Khadr was killed by Pakistani forces in 2003, and the rest of the family has returned to Canada and live on welfare in a Scarborough apartment – so no money has been paid.

More here.

No matter what sentence Omar Khadr gets from the military trial in GITMO, nothing will ever bring Sgt 1st Class Christopher back for his wife Tabitha, their children, or his brother Todd. Sgt 1st Class Christopher Speer died at the hands of a terrorist, and the weight of his loss will reverberate down the years for all who knew and love him.

Remember and honour this hero and his family.

Rest in peace, sir.

[Addendum: CBC online is reporting just a part of Tabitha Speer's testimony today:

Sgt. Christopher Speer was a "most generous, loving" husband before he was murdered by Omar Khadr in 2002, Speer's widow testified at a U.S. military commission at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, on Thursday.

"He thought of me before he thought of himself," Tabitha Speer told the court in an emotional appearance at Khadr's sentencing hearing. "I couldn't have asked for a better father for my children."

At times sobbing, she described her heartbreak at having to tell their chidren, then a three-year-old daughter and 10-month-old son, that their father had died.

"That moment a part of my daughter died with my husband," she said, adding that eight years later, the children still feel the pain of his absence...." (here)

Please keep Mrs Speer and her children in your hearts on what must be yet another horrible day for them. Thank you ]


brat said...

Leila Hunt Willingham (sister of murdered Ft Hood hero JD Hunt,) sent me the following comment and asked me to post it for her:

Praying for this family and precious children. Thank God for this hero. Especially touched by his brother Todd. Prayers that God comforts him and that others have compassion for this sibling, who are sometimes overlooked in mourning the loss of a hero. Your brother and best friend will always be a part of you Todd. Xxxxxxx

Anonymous said...

To this family my husband and I offer our condolences these many years later, and the observation that the life of this American hero lives on as an inspiration to each of you, and all the world. It is 8 years later, and today his life stirred our hearts. My husband is a colonel in the Army, currently serving in Iraq. I can't begin to imagine your loss, but I know that as I read here, I am affected, and feel the whole country has suffered in the loss of this young man. He has an influence that lives on here, especially through his brother, I am the mother of twin boys, men now, and their connection is profound. Again, I offer what comfort we can give in words that have come from my heart. My husband and myself are both aware of the very real danger and threat to our country and its people that your loved one stood and defended with his last full measure. He stood a man among men in the gap for all we hold dear.

Oh War, Oh War, How Sad To Say

Oh War, oh War, how sad to say,
You take our sons and daughters far away.
To subdue tyrants and those who rule,
With hearts so evil and ever cruel.

Oh War oh War, how sad to say,
Always there is a price to pay.
There born on shoulders bowed with care,
Comes the coffins of the young who dare.

Oh War, oh War, how sad to say,
Many are the tears of mothers that fall on that day.
When their dear child is finally laid to rest,
In the soil of their country for which they gave their best.

Oh War, oh War, how sad to say,
Too many are the children who cease to play.
Tears fall from little eyes which will never begin
To understand why they won’t see Mother or Father again.

Oh War, Oh War, how sad to say,
You take life’s one great love in your disarray.
No more in this life their cherished face to see,
The darkness of that hour bends the knee.

Oh War, Oh War, how sad to say,
Stray bullets that wind and find whatever target they may,
While turning and winding, an innocent victim take,
And those deadly spheres leave two in their wake.

Oh War, Oh War, how sad to say,
Hearts of the courageous break as those shells betray.
Memories must be carried by those who are brave,
Of necessary deeds which make their souls rave.

Oh War, Oh War how sad to say,
Sometimes the best return with wounds from the fray.
They leave strong when first they depart,
Then come home and a new life they must start.

Oh War, Oh War, how sad to say,
Always again the ruthless will follow the same way.
Once more the call will go out
For those who know what warmongers are about.

Oh War, oh War, how sad to say,
The price of freedom is never stayed.
Pruning hooks and plows must be beat,
Into weapons your dread disease to defeat.

Oh War, oh War, how sad to say,
With words and pleadings greedy men will not be swayed.
Yet the promise will one day be made complete,
By One who to a cross was nailed by his hands and his feet.

Oh, War, Oh War, on that glad day,
The Son of God will come to lead the way.
The final victory He will take,
No more will sin sad hearts make.

Oh War, Oh War, you are going away,
Peace and happiness for all will come in your stay.
The lion and the lamb will together lie down,
And God’s praises we’ll shout, making a joyful sound.

By Debra LeCompte
June 2010