Moments after being shot while charging toward the enemy, Sgt. 1st Class Forrest Robertson had a message for his U.S. Army teammates.
"Go get 'em, boys," Sgt. 1st Class Robertson uttered just before his final breath.
It was Nov. 3, 2013, and in about three weeks, Forrest, 35, was supposed to return from his fifth combat deployment to his wife and three daughters. Instead, Marcie Robertson heard her doorbell ring shortly after the fierce battle in Pul-i-Alam, Afghanistan, was over.
"I couldn't speak," the soldier's wife said about the moment she knew her husband had been killed. "I couldn't form words."
Though under vastly different circumstances, the last time Marcie's ability to speak failed her was in high school, when she and Forrest, who had grown up together in Kansas, first realized how attracted they were to one another.
Almost 2,000 American flags lined the streets when Forrest's flag-draped casket arrived in frigid Wamego, Kan. At the soldier's funeral, hundreds of shivering mourners listened to the service on a loudspeaker outside the overflowing church.
"I just felt like I wasn't alone," Marcie said. "I know that he was loved the time he was with us wasn't wasted."
Marcie Robertson, 34, is raising three girls who desperately miss their dad.
"I have to sit and cry with them that's my job," she said. "I just tell them that someday, we're going to be OK."
The last words spoken by Sgt. 1st Class Forrest Robertson inspire his brothers in arms. Perhaps, as his wife and daughters try to overcome an incomprehensible loss, they will hear a similar battle cry: "Go get 'em, girls."
Tom Sileo, Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Suite 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045.