Seven years ago, on a Thanksgiving weekend, Robin Carpenter and her husband did what so many families do—they drove twelve hours to see their son, Kyle.
Kyle wasn’t busy preparing turkey, or pulling pies out of the oven, or whatever kids do when their parents visit on a holiday weekend. He was flying in from Germany, and they would be waiting for him… at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, in Bethesda, Maryland.
This Veteran’s Day, as we commemorate our servicemembers, I wanted to spend time thinking about the families of those who sacrifice. The moms and dads, the brothers and sisters, the spouses, the sons and daughters. But especially, since this is 4boysmother, the moms.
Robin has three sons. She took time away from her career as a radiologist to raise her boys, since they didn’t have family nearby, and she and her husband insisted that Kyle, the oldest, go to college. He started school, and chose instead to join the Marines. And that fateful Thanksgiving, Kyle flew the long distance from Germany to Maryland to begin his longer recovery, from wounds suffered in Helmand Province in Afghanistan. Kyle, you see, was no ordinary Marine, and these were no ordinary wounds. He and a buddy were manning a rooftop security position, and when the grenade landed next to them, he didn’t think twice, but threw his body atop the grenade, saving his friend’s life.
Even in his medically induced coma, in Germany, Kyle responded to his mom’s voice. He asked for his mom that entire flight to Maryland. And this dedicated, strong mother spent most of her time from Thanksgiving 2010 through spring 2012 at Walter Reed with her son, as he reached a point where pain medication was no longer crucial, where he could walk, where a mother could finally see her oldest son’s beautiful smile again. She took trips home to her other boys when her husband could take time from work and trade places with her.
Lance Corporal William “Kyle” Carpenter received the Medal of Honor from President Barack Obama in 2014. His amazing mom, Robin, who helped bring her baby back to life a second time, has said, ““You never know how strong you are until strong is the only choice you have… I just have so much respect for any parent — if you have raised children, you have done something. It’s hard work. There’s nothing more precious and nothing more valuable. I cannot imagine not being a mom, but you have to be tough. We’re just like any other parents, it just so happens that ours is a Medal of Honor recipient.”
This Veterans Day, thank you to Robin.
Thank you, moms. We servicemembers wouldn’t be who we are without you.
Contributor Erica Russo has served in the military for 16 years. She is also a proud military spouse, mother of two, third-term PTA president, wishful gardener, and terrible housekeeper. Erica spent most of ninth-grade biology guessing song titles with 4BoysMother and hopes her children will be more conscientious students.