Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Honoring Sacrifice, Supporting Military Families

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Honoring Sacrifice, Supporting Military Families

Article excerpt

Anna Karcher knows something about sacrifice.

That may not be immediately obvious on meeting the spirited Texas Christian University freshman, whose easy smile exudes a confidence beyond her youth.

But when she traverses TCU's manicured lawns each morning on her way to class, she carries a special gratitude that is lost on many people her age.

Only four years ago, Anna's dad, then a lieutenant colonel in the Army, was part of a military caravan patrolling Sadr City - one of Baghdad's more treacherous neighborhoods - as the United States was beginning to wind down its operations in Iraq.

The war, as America had come to know it, had largely faded from the headlines. But the dangers of the still-volatile combat zone were never far from the thoughts of people like Anna, her mom, and her sisters Audrey and Abbey, who had all spent years steeling themselves for the worst news imaginable, never expecting that it would come.

Lt. Col. Karcher's mine-resistance ambush-protected vehicle, or MRAP, had taken a direct hit from an explosively formed projectile, a kind of devastating improvised explosive device that had been savaging troops in the region for years. And it penetrated his armored vehicle as if the MRAP were made of paper.

Anna doesn't remember much about the call that informed her family of what had happened, but she knew the news was not good.

Miracles never cease. Col. Karcher survived the attack, though only barely.

The days and weeks to come were "touch and go," said Anna, who knows that her father nearly died several times during the months he spent in critical care, first at an Army base in Germany, then at Walter Reed Army Medical Center just outside Washington.

At his worst, the robust man, who once stood 6-foot-4, was hovering above 105 pounds.

He lost his legs in the assault; eventually both were amputated above the knee.

During his long and slow recovery at Walter Reed, a small nonprofit committed to serving military families found the Karchers and offered assistance. No Greater Sacrifice, founded in 2008, has a simple mission: Honor our nation's fallen and severely wounded service members by serving their children. …

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