Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A Tribute to Sgt. Charles Kitowski III
By Zelda

I received this email from my friend, Sgt. Charles B. Kitowski III on April 5, 2005 after a party to send him off for basic. It is so hard to write about him because he meant a great deal to me. I’ve been trying to find the words to do him justice, but I think his are better:

Thanks to everyone for coming out. Some of you I haven't seen in quite a while, and it was great to catch up. As you can imagine, this hasn't been an easy decision (and the prep a pain in the ass), but everyone has been so supportive, even congratulatory. I can't tell you how much that means. I left Saturday night feeling truly blessed. I look at all my good friends and the caliber of people I know - I feel proud. I know this trip is only for training so I don't mean to be sappy or overdramatic. But most of you are aware that I will probably see action soon after, as some of you and many of our friends already have. Yeah it makes me quite nervous, but when I look at who I'll come home to, I consider it an honor.

Anyway, enough rough stuff. I know I'll be missing some weddings and birthdays and christenings and I'm sorry, but congrats where applicable and we'll just have to party twice.

Special thanks to Big-D for getting us the keg. Love you bro, and we'll have many more.

See you all this fall. Wish me luck and I'll be in touch.

Luv,

-Charles

This was a brave, kind man who truly laid down his life not only for his friends, but all of us. Everyone was always included in his acts of kindness.

Jethro and I have been overcome with grief over the past week as may have been evidenced by a few drunken comments. I apologize for the breach of etiquette, but his loss has been monumentally tragic.

He was the only child of two very loving parents. His birthday was only two days before his death. He left behind a girlfriend he planned on proposing to as soon as he returned.

I can honestly say I’ve never been to a harder funeral. And I buried my father when I was 15. The Patriot Guard Riders came on their bikes and gave him a hero’s sendoff. I know he would have thought that was extremely cool.

As the funeral procession made its way slowly through the town’s quiet streets, we saw the people come out of their houses to line the road. They were holding flags and signs in honor of our friend and the old veterans stood proudly and saluted.

The fire station made an arch with their firetruck ladders and flew the flag from it while we all passed through.

The burial was beautiful and terrible. I’d never been to a military graveside service before, but I knew the protocol. You’d think it would become meaningless after so much repetition, but it doesn’t. It’s almost as if the respect and honor increases with each fallen hero. And the glory of each carries over to the next.

I placed my hand on the casket and said goodbye, blinded by tears, and overcome by his sacrifice.

Charles, l loved you so much and will miss you every single day. Thank you for your service, your kindness, and your friendship.

(Zelda's site: Sleeping Ugly)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am not sure that you will ever see this, but I felt compelled to leave something.

Although I did not know Charles the way many of his home friends did, I got a chance to get to know Charles as a soldier. We served in Afghanistan together, as my small unit was attached to his command. I learned very shortly that he was beacon of light in our otherwise darker days. We were gearing for an last minute operation when the bombshell was dropped on us. It was a very emotional day at the compound when we found out what had happened to Charles. I think the words "blind anger" can best describe the overall feeling. Watching him board the plane for the last time is an image that will forever be burned into my memory. As the time of the year that I most associate with sadness is fast approaching, I just wanted to drop a message and let people know that even 10 years later, Charles is still not forgotten. I still proudly wear his KIA bracelet to honor his memory. In the off chance that this message does come across to you, the feelings of your loss are shared. He will be forever missed!