Fallen Soldier’s Son, Braydon Nichols: Please Remember My Father
While there are the amazing moments when a loved one comes back from service, we also need to remember the families of the fallen soldiers.
A week before the terrible tragedy that killed 30 Americans in Afghanistan, Jessica Nichols recalls an exchange that happened between her and her 10 year old son, Braydon. She recounts to CNN:
“When is Dad coming back so we go camping?” Braydon asked her with tears in his eyes.
“Soon”, she assured him. “Your dad is off fighting for this country.”
Braydon responded firmly, “As soon as he gets home, we’re going to go on a camping trip, just me and him.”
There’s nothing that meant more for Brandon than being with his father when he came home.
A week later, Jessica took back her words as she received a call letting her know that Braydon’s father, Bryan Nichols died that fateful afternoon when his helicopter was gunned down in central Afghanistan.
Breaking the news for Braydon was tougher than she could imagine. She said carefully, “Braydon, do you know much your dad loves you? Do you know how proud of you he is?”
Before she could explain further, her son understood and crumpled in tears before her eyes. “I’m sorry … your … dad died,” Jessica finished tearfully.
On Sunday morning, mother and son were intently watching the first news report of the tragic military loss, known also as the “single deadliest loss for American troops in the Afghan war.” Braydon instantly called out that his dad’s picture was not featured alongside the other fallen soldiers. His mom explained that other people had gone to the CNN news site to post photos of their loved ones.
As soon as he heard that, Braydon refused to let the memory and photo of his father go unannounced. With his mom’s help, they went to the iReport home page as Braydon dictated to his mom:
“My father was one of the 30 US Soldiers killed in Afghanistan yesterday with the Seals rescue mission, My father was the pilot of the chinook. I have seen other pictures of victims from this deadly mission and wish you would include a picture of my father. He is the farthest to the left. – Braydon Nichols”
To say it is difficult for these military families would be an understatement. Jessica Nichols also tells CNN of an incident a few days later when she couldn’t find her son. As she was worriedly screaming his name, she finally found him hidden in a closet, crying next to photos of his father.
“Can we go to be with Dad?” Braydon asked tearfully.
Surprised, she responded that they will be with his father at the funeral.
Braydon again responded firmly, “Yeah, I’d like to go be with him when he comes home.”