Wednesday, August 08, 2012
I'd gone to the airport to rent a car, and I knew someone was coming home when I spotted the Patriot Guard Riders lined up, starting about a mile from the airport.
Sean Jacobs was his name. He graduated from local Foothill High School in 2006, and graduated from West Point in 2010. He deployed to Afghanistan in April of this year, and returned home on August 6. Sean was a U.S. Army 1st lieutenant when he died.
I learned all of that when I got out of my car to ask about the returning soldier. I stood next to a retired couple, and the wife filled me in.
Most of the Patriot Guard Riders mounted up on their motorcycles and followed the hearse, but as I walked back across the street, I saw one guy standing next to his bike, weeping. He was a mountain of a guy, and wore a Vietnam veteran patch. I felt like I had to say something to him, but all I could manage was "thanks." He offered his hand, and tried to say something. He took a deep breath, and finally said, "He was an only child."
I felt like I'd been punched in the gut. I saw Dylan's face, and wondered what Sean looked like at the same age. I walked to my car and sat inside, pretty much going to pieces.
I heard the mountain man crank his Harley, so I gathered myself, started the car, and followed him out toward Highway 44. For a few miles, I had his back.