In July of 2003, 27-year-old Lt. Pete Ober died in a helicopter crash, proudly serving in the United States Navy. Since the war began, 4,332 American soldiers have been mortally wounded in Iraq. Pfc. Matthew E. Baylis was killed just days before his 21st birthday in Baghdad, supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom, in May of 2007. Between July 25 and August 7, 2009, nine U.S. Army soldiers, five Marines and one U.S. Navy sailor were killed in Afghanistan. One of them was 29-year-old Capt. Matthew Freeman – he had been married just weeks before he deployed.

All three of these men dreamed their entire lives of serving their country and made the ultimate sacrifice by giving their lives for our freedom. All three of these soldiers were sons and brothers; two were husbands of my close friends and one was the proud father of a little girl.

I am so proud of the brave men and women who serve our country, yet I ache for the mothers, fathers, husbands, wives and children who have to say goodbye to their loved ones. I admire their selflessness – I could not imagine how hard it is to let someone go, knowing he is putting himself directly in harm’s way.

I am at a loss as to how to convey my emotions in this post – I have so much pride and gratitute for those who are giving up everything to serve in the military. Yet I feel so much pain knowing that these families (and the entire world) have lost some of the finest people who will ever walk this Earth.

During Matt’s memorial service, one eulogizer rightly said, “The world needs more Matthew Freemans.”

And the world does. It needs more Matthew Freemans, more Pete Obers and more Matt Baylises.

Please remember our honorable servicemen and women – and their families, who are braver than we could ever imagine.

Freedom isn’t free.

If you have the ability to make a contribution in their memory and honor:

Pete Ober:
Peter Benjamin Ober Memorial Fund
c/o Citadel Foundation
171 Moultrie Street
Charleston, South Carolina 29401
Matt Baylis:
Contributions in his memory to Wounded Warriors (, AER ( or USO ( are appreciated.
Matt Freeman:
Captain Matthew Freeman Memorial Scholarship
Bryan Bank
PO Box 1299
Richmond Hill, GA 31324
UPDATE: You can also contribute to The Matthew Freeman Project: Pens & Paper for Peace (