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Families of Oklahoma war dead face Memorial Day without them

Updated:
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Army Spc. Adam Noel Brewer died in Iraq in February when a land mine detonated while he was on patrol, but his widow, Molly, hasn't been able to bring herself to visit his grave.

``That was really hard, because you don't expect to be a widow at 22,'' she said.

Spc. Brewer, 22, is one of 29 military personnel and a civilian who have lost their lives fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan since October 2001.

Nationally, more than 1,800 have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the Defense Department.

For Molly Brewer, who married Adam Brewer in December 2001, Monday marks the first Memorial Day she and Brewer's parents will spend without him.

Brewer's father, Jeff, has used his share of his son's life insurance to help his daughter buy a house, set up a college fund for his grandchildren and fix a car for Adam Brewer's best friend.

``I made as much good come of my son's death as I possibly could,'' the Bartlesville resident said.

For Ronald Petty, losing his son, Staff Sgt. Erickson H. Petty, has been easier to bear because his son knew the risk he was taking when he accepted the assignment in Iraq.

Erickson Petty, 28, was killed May 3, 2004, while securing a weapons cache in Salman Al Habb, Iraq.

The military calls the small percentage of soldiers killed in more than three years of fighting ``acceptable losses,'' but Ronald Petty says dealing with the loss has been difficult for him to accept.

``Some days are harder than others,'' the Harrah resident said. ``Some days you laugh and some days you cry.''

Darrell and Karen White know about the tears. The Shawnee residents visit the grave of their son, Staff Sgt. Aaron Dean White, at least twice a week.

White and three other Marines were killed May 19, 2003, when their CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter crashed into a canal in central Baghdad shortly after takeoff.

Darrell White said support from the military and the community have helped the family cope, but nothing can take away the pain completely.

The Shawnee resident said he still thinks about his son every day.

``There's no healing on it,'' Darrell White said. ``I've talked to people who have lost children in other ways. They say you'll get over it in a couple of years. It's not been easy.''
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