There are no easy ways to explain the individual tragedies of war.
We all got a reminder of that this weekend as the Houston Chronicle published a touching story about members of 1st Battalion, 23rd Marines, out of Houston, returning the wedding ring of a fallen friend, Staff Sgt. Jeremy Smith, 26, to his wife.
Rachel Smith, 25, received the keepsake on Saturday from Sgt. Jarred Hammonds, who is credited with rooting through the dirt where Smith died April 6 for a long period of time to find it. Staff Sgt. Smith and Hospitalman Benjamin Rast were reportedly killed by an errant Hellfire missile, so the scene must have been grim.
Rachel described her feelings in the Chronicle story:
On Saturday, Jeremy’s battalion returned home without him. Rachel went to Ellington Field to welcome the men back.
“I’d regret it if I didn’t go,” she said. “I’m ecstatic that they’re home, and I can’t wait to see them because now it’s like I’m going into Jeremy’s shoes and I have to go make sure they’re OK … because he’s not there to do it.”
After everyone else had kissed and hugged and left the airfield, Hammonds and other Marines from her husband’s platoon returned the ring to Rachel in a private ceremony, along with a journal Jeremy kept.
One by one, the men told Rachel what Jeremy meant to them. Everyone wept.
Rachel will wear her husband’s ring on a necklace. “I think I’ll feel better with it being closer to my heart,” she said.