That's my boy
I mentioned going to the Matt Maupin Scholarship Fund dinner in my last post. I wrote about remembering a fallen son. I already knew Jim's story, told to me by his mother and then by a mutual friend. I didn't know a lot about the other 39 being honored and remembered when I arrived that night, but I would know about more before I left. Some of the names were very familiar to me- Nick Erdy, Justin Sims, Jim Miller, Timothy Bell, Taylor Prazynski, Bryan Taylor, and Charles Kiser. I knew about them for various reasons- I wrote about Nick Erdy following his death; Alice's son, Jim Miller; Timothy Bell, nephew of the great baseball player, Buddy Bell; Taylor Prazynski, whose father attended the homecoming ceremony for the rest of Taylor's unit, fulfilling a promise he made to his son prior to deployment, and whose grave I recently visited at Arlington.
One I didn't know anything about was Jason Bishop. That changed on April 9.
I went out into the lobby during some of the evening entertainment (sorry, but I just can't sit through anyone singing a Dixie Chicks song at a dinner honoring our deceased and missing soldiers. sooooooo tacky). The tables outside were filled with pictures and memorabelia the families of the deceased had brought. It was getting late, and many of the families had taken their pictures and left already. I was drawn to a photo on the right side of the lobby, with a coin hanging from it, and a scrapbook page below it, showing off the stages of this man's military career. One picture that stands out was him in his Cavalry Stetson. What a proud moment that must have been for Jason and his family!
As i was admiring Jason's Cav photo, I was approached by a man who proudly told me "That's my boy."
For the second time that night, I cried. We both did, as he told me the story of Jason's death.
Jason was on patrol when his convoy passed a parked, yet running, car on the side of the highway. Considering the gas shortage in Iraq, this seemed rather odd to Jason, so he ordered his vehicle to turn around so they could investigate. he got out of the humvee, and upon approaching the vehicle, it sped off, then turned around, heading directly at Jason and his guys. While firing his weapon at the driver, Jason yelled to his driver to "GET THE HELL OUTTA DODGE!". Jason's bullets found the driver, killing him, and as he slumped over in the car, his foot slid off of the accelerator, releasing the pin on the detonator. The car exploded right next to Jason, killing him and one other Soldier, SSG Christopher J. Vanderhorn. It was January 1, 2006.
He told me that Jason has been put in for a Medal of Honor, for his actions that day. He then asked me if I heard a baby crying during the speaches that night. I had, but only a few times. He then told me that was Jason's infant son, and how sad he was that he would grow up without a Daddy. I was quick to tell him that yes, the baby won't know Jason's touch, smell, or face, he would always know exactly who his father was, how much he loved his family and his country, and how proud he was to be in the Army. Mr. Bishop nodded his head in agreement, as yet another tear ran down his face. Jason leaves behind another child, a daughter, from a previous marriage. You can bet she'll make sure the new baby, Matthew, knows all about their Dad.
He then picked up the picture and removed the coin hanging from it. He handed it to me saying "Do you know what this is?" I said, "Yes sir, I do. It's a presidential coin. They're very rare- I'm honored you'd let me hold it." He told me that President Bush gave it to him, in honor of Jason's death. He pointed out the special minting process, and how it was stamped on both sides. He ran his finger over the words "President George W. Bush", remembering the day it was given to him at the White House.
Then he said, "Well, the baby's tired, so we should be going. Please, don't forget my son." Through my tears, I know he heard me say "I won't forget, Sir. Thank you."
SFC Jason L. Bishop was a son, a husband, a father. He was a drill sergeant, a Cav member, a friend, a Soldier, a mentor. He was awarded a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart for his actions on January 1, 2006. He was loved.
He will NOT be forgotten.