Oklahoma's 45th Infantry Chaplains Counsel Families Of Fallen

Tuesday, September 13th 2011, 7:25 pm
By: News On 6

Dan Bewley, News On 6

UNDATED -- The Oklahoma Army National Guard is still recovering from the loss of three soldiers last week. The men died when they were ambushed by the Taliban in Afghanistan on Friday.

The tragic loss of three more Oklahoma soldiers has shined a spotlight on the dangers the 45th is facing in the Middle East.

Richard Dominic and Jeremy Dunn are chaplains in the 45th Infantry.

"Losing a loved one is one of the hardest experiences that any family will ever face or ever go through," said Chaplain Jeremy Dunn.

"It's emotional for all of us. These are people that we know; they're fellow soldiers," said Chaplain Richard Dominic.

It's their job to counsel and work with the soldiers and families here on the Homefront when a life is lost in combat.

"We promise each other that in the event that something like that should happen that we're going to take care of those families, and we're going to honor the soldier," Dunn said. "It's a commitment we make to one another."

They say one of their most difficult jobs is to inform the families when their loved one has died.

"I try to remind them that their soldiers were volunteers; they wanted to be there," Dominic said. "They trained to do what they're doing. They're infantry soldiers in the context of the job they're doing in Afghanistan, and the potential is there for death."

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"What we try to do is, first of all, celebrate the life of that soldier and also to honor the service and the sacrifice that they've made," said Chaplain Jeremy Dunn.

The chaplains say public shows of support, such as people lining the streets, is an important part of the process. They say it helps the family know they're not alone and reminds everyone of their sacrifice.

"These are true heroes. These are people who laid down their lives for their fellow men, their brothers on the battlefield, and their family and friends and every one of us back home," said Chaplain Richard Dominic.

Chaplain Dominic says one of the more difficult times for families comes several weeks after the funeral.

He says it's important for the community to continue to show support, even if it's something as simple as mowing a lawn.