This Week at War: A Solemn Return for Fallen Heroes

The Stream's weekly look at the sacrifices of U.S. troops and military families around the globe.

By Tom Sileo Published on June 16, 2018

Somalia

The flag-draped casket of fallen U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Alexander Conrad arrived on American soil Tuesday at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.

According to the Department of Defense, which is investigating the tragic incident, the 26-year-old soldier was killed by “enemy indirect fire” on June 8 in Somalia. Staff Sgt. Conrad is the first U.S. service member to make the ultimate sacrifice in Africa since four Americans were killed in action last fall in Niger.

In Chandler, Arizona, where Conrad grew up, family and friends are grieving the incomprehensible loss of an American hero.

“At first I didn’t believe it,” high school friend Sarah Burke told KPNX-TV in Phoenix. “There was always that possibility while he was fighting for us that the worst could happen, but I never really believed it would happen to him.”

According to The Washington Times, Conrad and his fellow soldiers — including four who were reportedly wounded – were battling the al-Shabaab terrorist group southwest of the Somali capital, Mogadishu.

Please pray for the four injured soldiers, as well as Staff Sgt. Alexander Conrad’s family and friends.

Korea

Loved ones of thousands of American heroes presumed dead since the Korean War may have received an answer to their long-awaited prayers this week. As part of an agreement signed by President Trump and Kim Jong-un in Singapore, North Korea is pledging to find and return the remains of U.S. troops killed there.

According to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, more than 7,500 U.S. troops are still unaccounted for since an Armistice was signed nearly 65 years ago.

WTHR-TV in Indianapolis spoke to a Korean War veteran who helped underscore the momentous nature of this news for those who fought in the conflict and their families.

“I want to see them bring back the bodies,” said Gene Esselborn, 86, who was just 18 when he fought in North Korea. “Well, it won’t be the bodies. It will be the skeletons. Give them a decent burial.”

Let’s all hope and pray that North Korea follows through on its promise. The relatives and friends of these American warriors have suffered for too long.

Afghanistan

A temporary ceasefire between the Taliban and the government of Afghanistan, which is being honored by U.S. troops, began on Tuesday to mark the conclusion of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. As this op-ed in The Hill notes, “of course, a ceasefire is not a peace agreement, but it can lead to one.”

American forces will still pursue ISIS and other terrorist groups while observing the Taliban-Afghan ceasefire. We ask God to protect our 14,000 brave men and women in uniform still serving in Afghanistan as we simultaneously pray for an honorable end to the longest war in American history.

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Coming Home

As our country celebrates Father’s Day weekend, you won’t find two kids happier to have their grandpa back home.

Papa Comes Home

Two children wait to embrace and welcome their grandfather at Rapid City Regional Airport in South Dakota on May 16, 2018.

According to the South Dakota National Guard, their grandfather was serving in Romania and Bulgaria for nine months as a firefighter. Welcome home, Papa, and Happy Father’s Day!

 

Tom Sileo is a contributing senior editor of The Stream. He is co-author of three books about military heroes: 8 Seconds of CourageBrothers Forever and Fire in My Eyes. Follow Tom on Twitter @TSileo.

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