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Operation Red Wings – A Widow’s Perspective


Operation Red Wings occurred on June 25, 2005 and last Friday we spent the day remembering the 11 SEALS and 8 Army Night Stalkers that sacrificed their lives for OUR freedom. With the July 4th holiday just a few days away we wanted to share with you a very touching story originally written during the holiday season of 2011. We wanted to give you something to think about as you get ready to celebrate our Independence Day. 

Its all about perspective. Do you find some days you could use a fresh perspective? Sometimes a new outlook is blissful and yet at other times difficult. It causes us to stop and take a closer look at ourselves and how we live our lives or maybe see the world. It has even deeper meaning when it forces us to make a change for the better. Today, Boot Campaign offers a perspective from Boot Girl, Char Fontan Westfall. Char’s husband Jacques was one of the 19 men who lost their lives in Operation Red Wings as described in the book Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell. From her vantage point as a widow of a fallen soldier, Char, recounts her thoughts and feelings that first holiday season after the death of her husband. – Myra 


CharThe whole 1st year after losing Jacques was just miserable. I DREADED every day, especially EVERY Holiday. As November came around it was just one bad memory after another. It started with Jacques birthday, November 11, Veteran’s Day, followed by Thanksgiving and Christmas. To be honest, it took everything in me to go out and Christmas shop for my family. It seemed like everywhere I went I was surrounded by signs reminding me that Jacques was gone. I’d catch myself looking at things I knew he would like and then suddenly slapped back into reality. There are no words to describe how much that hole in your heart hurts at this time of year. I can say I’m thankful that my loss wasn’t during the holiday season. Those first days and weeks are difficult to begin with, let alone associating future holidays with such tragic loss. I don’t know how I would have handled seeing gifts I’d already wrapped for him. Although, I did have things in his closet that I purchased while he was gone. At least I didn’t have the extra pain of knowing he wouldn’t be opening the gifts I so excitedly picked out for him.

Around this time of year I think most people get pretty wrapped up in their own stress and lives and forget about the wives, husbands, children and families that are trying to “make it” through the Holidays. I find myself constantly thinking of how heavy their hearts must be and if they are even motivated to celebrate this season. In perspective, there are Christmas parties you won’t attend because for one, you don’t want to be there alone, but even more so because you don’t know how you’ll deal with seeing all the “happy couples” along with their stares of pity. Families that have just recently lost their loved one are constantly on my mind. I have an even greater appreciation for the Holidays now.

I am still very close with Jacques’ family. There aren’t words to express how much I cherish the fact that they are still such a huge part of my life. I know their hearts still ache from the hole left by the loss of Jacques. They still have the pain of not having him around too. For me, with every passing year the pain eases and I deal with his absence just a little better. My life has turned around though. God blessed me for a second time in my life with another love, Drew. We have two children and I’m thankful to get to enjoy the holidays with them. – Char

Maybe Char’s birds-eye view is a reminder for you to spend quality time with those you love while you can, and to thank a soldier; perhaps while sitting next to them on an airplane to your holiday destination. Seize the moment, as you never know what they will be required to do on your behalf. When you do that, you honor the families of our servicemen and women around the world, which is a whole new perspective in itself. Boot Girl Char has written a book about her story and is currently looking for a publisher! We hope she gets to share her entire story with all of us very soon.