Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Bracelet on my Wrist

On the 29th of September 2007, I lost my friend Jim Doster.

A guy, who like me, wanted nothing more than to lead soldiers one more time before retiring. A guy who, like me, had heartache about where the Army had sent him during his career, and the regrets of missed opportunities. Jim and I became friends while sitting next to each other during Battle Staff NCO Course at Fort Riley. Since we had PC's at our desks, we would entertain each other by trying to find the most ridiculous and raunchiest pictures possible on the internet (not easy on a .gov domain), while the instructor droned on about Combat Service Support or some other less than thrilling topic.

Leading men in battle is the pinnacle of the profession of a warrior. It's not a dream or desire that someone truly wishes for, because true warriors pray for peace. But when the call comes, there is no greater honor, nor greater test than meeting the challenge of combat, defeating your enemy and keeping your men alive.

After enduring the indentured servitude of staff work at FOB Falcon, Jim was called up, and took the reigns of a platoon of door kickers from our Brigade, but based out of FOB Rustimiyuh. A couple of weeks before he was scheduled to come home for R&R, an IED took his life. He didn't go quickly or without a fight. Despite severe trauma and loss of blood, Jim held on through the evacuation to the CSH in the IZ (Green Zone). He fought his greatest battle, but it was not enough.

My brother, who I could always go to when I was down....who would always join me in bitching about the oxygen thieves we worked with, and for......left for another FOB, and then left forever.

Like me, he had a loving wife and two beautiful daughters that were the center of his universe. We made plans to get our families together after we returned from Baghdad. We talked of our plans to retire and what in the world we would do once we grew up.

Two friends, two brothers..........united in profession, the love of our families and the simple pursuit of trying to do the right thing. One gets to go home and lead a full life, the other ripped away in an instant. One family living each day in innocent bliss, sometimes taking for granted the true treasures of life; the other living each day changed by the pulse of an electrical circuit and explosives, never enjoying a day without sorrow.

Why? Who rolled the dice that day and decided that Jim couldn't come home? What greater purpose was served by Kathryn and Grace not having their Daddy? My greatest nightmare is to think of Emelie and Susanna in that same situation. That's all I can write now, I'm sitting in Starbucks and people are starting to look at me funny.

I try to honor Jim's memory in the only way I know love my wife and daughters like he loved his. I wear his KIA bracelet on my wrist everyday to remember.


  1. I don't have words...just appreciation and respect...

  2. Thank you for stopping by to meet him. That means a lot.

  3. I wear my memorial bracelet for Doster as well. He was an incredible recruiter, and I am very happy to say, the best friend I have ever had. I think of him every day. I owe everything I have in my life to him. I am very thankful he had a friend like you when he was in such a sad place. Thank you for that. I would really like to talk to you sometime, just so I can get some closure. If not, I understand.

    Thank you again,


    1. I apologize that it's taken me so long to respond. I had to find my right state of mind.

      It sounds as if he either recruited you, or you served with him as a Recruiter. He and I were both relegated to staff positions, and both desperately wanted to get back in the fight. He coming from Recruiting, and me from teaching ROTC....all we wanted was to lead men again in battle.

      He got called up to the big leagues, while I stayed put. I never got to say goodbye before he left FOB Falcon for FOB Rustimyah.

      When he took his platoon, and was killed not long after by an IED, it was during the time frame where our unit lost a lot of good men.

      I'm more than happy to talk to those who knew him well, as our friendship was still growing, and we had planned to get our families together when we redeployed. My youngest daughter played with his at the gym both of our wives went to.

      I did get to meet his gunner at Camp Mackall a couple of years ago. He told me that Jim want quickly. I hope that was the truth and not well intentioned consoling.

      Drop me a line anytime.

    2. Thank you for your response! He and I were very close friends. He was initially my recruiter, and we became friends very fast. We even vacationed in Mexico together with a group of friends. I was married when we met, and my husband at the time was not the kindest person towards me. Doster gave me a spine, and I finally divorced him. He was my sounding board for advice about everything, and was quite honestly the best friend I ever had. When I found out he was killed I was hysterical. I was driving on I-70 headed back to Grand Junction when I got the call. I barely was able to drive home. He gave me his gold Recruiters patch key chain before I left for basic training, which, I clung to that first night.
      About 6 weeks later I had a very vivid dream about him. I hadn't spoken to Amanda yet, but sent her a Christmas card with a note to call me. She said it came to her with his autopsy report, and knew she needed to call. We talked for 7 hours.
      I have a daughter now, and I told Amanda if she had been a boy, her middle name would have been James. She laughed and said, "Well, theres a reason our daughter is named Kathryn JAMIE...".
      I still talk to Amanda, exchange photos of the kids, Christmas cards and stuff. I hope that she and the girls are always safe, and happy. I'm grateful she has continued to keep me informed of their growing up. It has meant a huge amount to me.

      Please, if you would, email me. I found a SFC that was in his station when I did my hometown recruiting, and he and I talk often. I would like to talk more, if you don't mind.

      Thank you!


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