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Soldier Helps Soothe the Hurt of Families

By Foster, Renita | Soldiers Magazine, May 2009 | Go to article overview

Soldier Helps Soothe the Hurt of Families


Foster, Renita, Soldiers Magazine


[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

IT'S a duty all Soldiers dread, yet when called upon, they welcome it as an honor and perform it as such. And while training is offered to prepare them as casualty assistance officers, there are those who are "naturals;" blessed with just the right blend of professionalism and compassion to guide a family through the most devastating situation they may have ever known.

Master Sgt. Tyrone Russell, former noncommissioned tactical officer at the U.S. Military Academy Preparatory School at Fort Monmouth, N.J., is one of those "naturals." At our initial meeting I never detected a creative or lighter side to him, just a "spit and polish" devout Soldier, assigned the anguishing duty of CAO on behalf of a young Soldier's family.

During those first hard days, Russell lived up to that "backbone of the Army" reputation, helping with arrangements and talking to the family about war and their beloved son. He joined them in their sorrow as they grieved for their son and for others like him who would never come home.

"Every time we lose a Soldier we lose a piece of our soul," Russell counseled. He also praised the family for continuing to support the Army in spite of their sacrifice. "There are those who have lost nothing and yet refuse to support the armed forces," he added.

It was the day of the young Soldier's funeral, however, when Russell's extraordinary talents took over, beginning with "Airborne Angel," an original poem (shown above) he masterfully penned to honor the fallen paratrooper.

Granted, the military slang might not have been understood by everyone, but there was no mistaking the heartfelt camaraderie Soldiers have--that brotherhood that comes with wearing a uniform. I have no doubt the words soothed and comforted many troubled hearts that morning.

"I was thinking about writing something after I left the family one day," said Russell, who has been writing poetry since high school.

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