It’s good to hear that some parents, ahem…most parents, are not like Cindy Sheehan:
10/14/2005 – PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AFPN) — Many of you have probably heard of the death of Airman 1st Class Elizabeth Jacobson. She was the first female Airman to die in the line of fire duty supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom, and the first Air Force security forces member to perish. She was only 21 years old.
Airman Jacobson died while providing convoy security near Camp Bucca, Iraq. An improvised explosive hit the vehicle in which she was riding Sept. 28. She was assigned to the 17th Security Forces Squadron at Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas
I had the honor of being her family?s liaison to the news media Oct. 9 at her funeral, since her hometown was in nearby in Riviera Beach. In addition to phone calls before the funeral, I got to spend about 45 minutes with Airman Jacobson?s father, mother and stepmother.
This was probably the hardest thing I?ve ever had to do in my life. What do you say to someone who has just lost a child? How does one sympathize without being able to empathize? I had never been to a funeral because I had never had anyone close to me pass away.
So I knew working with the family that it would be emotionally very difficult for me. I cannot imagine the sorrow parents must feel after losing their child.
Arriving at the funeral home near Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., the magnitude of the situation hit hard. I didn?t feel worthy to console the family because finding words was so difficult.
However, something happened when I walked in to meet the parents. They were so thankful to have Air Force members at the funeral, including Col. Scott Bethel, commander of the 17th Training Wing at Goodfellow; Maj. Kenneth O?Neil, 17th SFS commander; and Chaplain (Maj.) Peggy Wilkins and the honor guard from Patrick.
David Jacobson, Airman Jacobson?s father, told us stories about Elizabeth. He spoke of her love of the Air Force and her security forces duties; her desire to be a chief master sergeant someday; and the way she always volunteered to do the jobs no one else wanted. The fateful convoy mission was one such duty she had tried to get for a long time, rather than be in the guard tower where it was relatively safe.
The part that was so surprising to me was the outpouring of support her family bestowed on the military members, for the jobs we all have to do to protect this nation. There were no sentiments of bitterness or anger toward the military.
?People don?t understand that if we don?t win the war in Iraq, the United States will not exist,? Mr. Jacobson said. ?Elizabeth liked being a troop and was so proud. She made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation and the cause of freedom.?
I felt rushes of humility and pride as they laid her to rest with all her mourners around her — seeing our honor guard perform the ceremony, hearing ?Taps? and hearing and feeling the flyover of two T-38s Talon aircraft.
I have never been as proud to be a member of the Air Force as I was that Sunday.
It made me realize that even though some of us haven?t deployed, haven?t directly supported Operation Iraqi Freedom or the global war on terrorism, we all play a vital role to protect the citizens of the United States.
We just have to do our jobs with honor and with the love that Airman Jacobson showed for her job — and that her family showed for her and all of us who wear the uniform.
I have to share some of the posts to her guestbook:
Liz was one of my best friends and more like a sister. She moved in with my family and I when she was going through some rough times. I have never known someone so kind and generous. We nicknamed her “Cali” because she would always talk of her old life there. I remember her always saying that one day she was going to accomplish something great and people would remember her for it. Well, Liz, you did it. She was always in a great mood and could find a way to have fun in any situation. One of our favorite things to do , was just cruising in her car listening to music and just acting crazy. I think this world has lost one of the best people it has ever had. I was waiting for the day she would come home but now i will never see my dear friend again . I am going to miss her so much.
Christina Davis (West palm beach, FL )
I would just like to let her family know we are praying for them everyday. I would also like to thank Liz for helping me take care of my dog Snoopy whom is so close to my heart. See my wife opened a home day care and the inspectors told me I had to get rid of Snoopy who just happened to be the sweetest Pitbull I know. After asking several of my friends Liz stepped up and said “I’ll take her until you can find a better home” Just goes to show what kind of person she really was, always willing to help anyone out. I hope her little dog is doing well as I had the chance to meet him as well. God bless you Liz and your family, you will truly be missed.
SSgt Richard Bechand (San Angelo, TX )
I didn’t have the privelage of knowing Liz very long but for the time that I was able to spend working along side her, I’ll always cherish. She was a member of my quick response force on many occasions and she was a very capable and tenacious person. I know that she was jumping with joy when she found out she was finally going to be able to start working convoys. She was happy doing what she was doing. Her personality was so strong that she will leave an indellible impression on anyone she’s ever shared more than a few words with. We miss you.
Johannes Redmond (Camp Bucca, Iraq)
To the family and friends of Elizabeth. You should feel some comfort in the knowledge that she was part of a group of men and women who worked and lived as a family, dedicated to one another. She will be remembered for many years to come. Never meeting Elizabeth myself, I feel as though I have lost a comrade, a friend, a daughter. My heart goes out to you all. My pride in her sacrafices will be endless.
David R. Gile, MSgt, USAF, Retired
A1C Elizabeth N. Jacobson was laid to rest with the best in a place of honor amongst graves of veterans. A large contingent of fellow airmen and several hundred family and friends attended service and burial with full military honors. The flag draped casket fixed attention of all as members of family shared memories of Liza and the love that bound the extended family.
Bronze Star, Purple Heart and AF Achievement Medal citations were read for all to hear of her heroic and extraordinary service to country.
Members of her home base unit, the 17th SFS from Goodfellow AB TX, as well as, the 6th SFS from MacDill and the 45th from Patrick swelled the ranks of the processional to the gravesite. A glorious sunny day, with southerly breeze that kept the multitude of flags waving, greeted Elizabeth at her final resting place.
Rifles crackled in the somber air and the soulful sound of Taps moistened many an eye among men. A man with a star presented stars enfolded to the family, another Gold Star mother drawn into the sacred sorority. The moment of silence is broken by streaking fighters from out of the blue yonder.
Military matters are done as members of the 17th bid farewell to their comrade and leave their shields at the foot of the casket. And finally, time for family to say goodbye to Liza with strokes and kisses of casket and holy prayers and tears.
Pat Dunne (Hollywood, FL )
Please go here to leave a message. It sounds like this hero had a good head on her shoulders and loved her country, after reading about her parents we now know where she got it.