Greg Medina wrote to Sonja Ruhren to let her know that he understood her pain.
Just two years before, each had a teenager at Gar-Field High School, but this year less than a month apart, both were parents of dead soldiers.
“I know your pain first hand and that nothing said or done will ever replace them,” Medina wrote on the Web site, https://www.fallenherosmemorial.com. “To remember is to honor them. That is all I have now.”
That can be said of all six area men with ties to Prince William County who died this year while serving their country.
Each either lived in or had family in the Prince William County area and their losses put faces and stories on a war happening halfway across the world.
David Alan Ruhren, a Virginia National Guard sergeant, and Army Sgt. Maj. Robert D. O’Dell, 38, of Manassas, both died during a terrorist attack while in a dining tent in Mosul on Dec. 21.
Dale City resident Marine Lance Cpl. Brian Medina, 20, was killed in action on Nov. 12. Marine Sgt. Morgan W. Strader, 23, whose mother lives in Montclair, was killed the same day.
Just eight days later another Dale City man, Army Sgt. Jack Bryant Jr., 23, was killed by an improvised explosive device during a convoy run in Muqdadiyah, Iraq.
Army Capt. Humayun S.M. Khan, 23, of Bristow was the first local man killed in the war this year when he was the victim of a suicide bomber on June 8.
All of these men had stories that were brought to light as a result of the war.
Ruhren joined the war effort at age 17, enlisting in the National Guard after the terrorist attack on the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.
O’Dell spent 19 years in the military, many of which were overseas. He leaves behind a wife and three children, all under the age of five.
Medina wrote his father while in Iraq, saying how strongly he believed in the war effort and did not want to come home until the job was done.
Bryant was active in his church’s youth choir and in Bible study groups before joining the military in 2000.
Khan wanted to go to law school and eventually enter politics, but he, like the other men killed this year, died too soon. – David Stegon