In her own words: A mother wishes for her son's safe return from war
Editor's note: Leah Chatham wrote this story about her wish for the New Year to have her son home safely from the war on terrorism. Chatham's son, Richard Goode, and her father, Charles Shepherd, both have submitted letters home that will appear in The Meridian Star's Profile edition this year.
By Leah Chatham/Special to the Star
Jan. 1, 2002
As a child, I grew up hearing my dad's stories about his having flown 50 missions as a tail gunner on a B-24 Bomber during World War II. The both of us would often watch movies and read books about the war.
I have frequently wondered how his mother my grandmother coped with having a son in a war, how it must have felt not being able to know every moment whether he is safe and alive.
Now I find myself in the exact situation as my grandmother. I have a son involved in a war and I am not able to know where he is, what he is doing or whether he is safe and alive.
I begged my son, Richard Goode, for months not to join the service. Especially the Marines.
I tried everything to get him to change his mind, including offering to buy him a new truck and give him money. But nothing worked.
In some ways, my efforts to dissuade him simply strengthened his resolve to join.
I asked him, "Why the Marines? Join anything but the Marines they're the first ones in. Why? Why the infantry? Do you want to die?"
He just simply replied, "Mama, it's something that I have to do. I don't want to die but if I have to I will."
In May of 2000, at the age of 18, my son left to become a U.S. Marine. It's been a little over a year now since my son left home and now he's been deployed overseas.
His deployment is a result of the recent terrorist attacks and the president's edict to bring the terrorists and nations supporting terrorism to justice.
Lance Cpl. Richard Goode, my son, is now serving his country as a Marine infantryman deployed to Afghanistan supporting "Operation Enduring Freedom."
Rick was deployed overseas on Sept. 20. He called me every night for about a week before he left. I know he was calling for my sake, not his.
As a mother I had to ask him, "Are you scared?" Without hesitation he replied, "Mama, I want to go. I know my job and I'm good at it. We've got a job to do and I want to help do it."
I remind myself every day of his words. Knowing that he is doing what he wants to do is a great comfort.
I tried so hard to talk him out of joining the Marines, now I am thankful for the intense training that he has received. I feel confident that he can handle any situation that he is faced with.
Fortunately today, families are able to receive news quickly through the Internet. When Rick was on the ship we were able to e-mail on a daily basis. Now that he is no longer on the ship, sometimes it is weeks before I receive any news from him.
Even though I am not able to have personal contact with him, I am able to search the Internet for any news of where the Marines are and what is happening.
His ship entered the Arabian Sea to join the battle in November. I hoped that he would not be involved in the war and yet knowing how disappointed he would be if he got that close and didn't get to go in.
America is adding another chapter to our history books. Rick is doing his part to end this chapter with victory just like his grandfather did in World War II.
I'm very proud of my son and all the other military willing to risk their lives for America's freedom. I look forward to the New Year in hopes that this war will end, with the mission to wipe out terror accomplished.
I look forward to the day my son will return home safely with the rest of America's military. Mission accomplished.