Support our mission

Debbie Hall had two children in the military in 2003, so she was not sure what kind of news awaited her when she was called home from a trip to the post office after work on a hot Monday in August.

Her daughter-in-law was making the call. The news was urgent, Hall was told.

Hall, 57, of Uniontown told the younger woman that she would be home as soon as she dropped off the mail at the post office.

“No, Debbie, you need to come home right now,” she recalled her daughter-in-law saying.

Her son Eric, a member of a U.S. Army Reserve 307th Military Police before he left from New Kensington, was serving in Iraq. Her daughter, also in the Army, was in Germany.

“Well, Eric had been sick over there, so I thought maybe they had sent him home,” she said. “So I got all excited and hurried up and headed for home. When I started up our road, I saw a military personnel car parked in front of my house.

“All I could think of at that point in time was: Which one of my children did I lose?

“I pulled into the driveway, and Misty (her daughter-in-law) and her dad were standing with two military personnel. And they approached me, and ... that's when I found out.”

She learned that her only son, Eric, the father of a 3-year-old daughter and a 1-year-old son, had died.

Hall, a Gold Star mother, said she was told that Eric, the chef for his unit, had gone to the Baghdad airport to pick up supplies. He was in a convoy on the way back to his unit when an improvised explosive device took his life.

Before he left, she had asked him about leaving his wife and two small children. She recalled that he had expressed sorrow at having to leave, but told her that he could not let down his second family, the members of his unit.

Has the death of her son changed her view of the role of the military?

“No, if someone asked me today, ‘Would you tell your children to join the military?' it would be positively yes,” said Hall.

“The military takes all the good that parents instill in their children. It brings it out and polishes it up and makes them good adults, good citizens and good people.”

Stripes in 7

around the web

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up