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Marine's Parents Share Poignant Story of Loss

The McHones talk to NPR's Steve Inskeep
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 11, 2014 7:50 AM CST
On Veterans Day, Parents Share Story of Loss
A Marine carry team moves a transfer case containing the remains of Capt. Nathan R. McHone Monday, Jan. 23, 2012 at Dover Air Force Base, Del.   (AP Photo/Steve Ruark)

(Newser) – In honor of Veterans Day, Steve Inskeep at NPR shares what he calls "a private story we never meant to share." He explains that in connection with a school benefit he sometimes records family interviews, and was so moved by the "important" story that Sylvia and Ron McHone of Crystal Lake, Ill., told him that he asked if he could air parts of it, and they agreed. In it, they recount their "adventurous" son, Capt. Nathan McHone, a Marine who was killed in a helicopter crash Afghanistan in 2012 at age 29. Sylvia describes the moment they, like at least 2,200 other American families, got the news their child had died in Afghanistan. "It was a Thursday. We had company at our house. They left about 10 o'clock and we had just climbed into bed and the doorbell rang and we looked at each other and we thought, 'did somebody forget something?'"

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Two Marines were at their door. Says Sylvia, "They say the words but then when you don't want to believe them, they read the words to you." Their son, just a month shy of returning to Hawaii, wasn't killed in combat. "We weren't expecting it." The main rotor in the gearbox of his helicopter broke, sending all six aboard to their deaths 5,500 feet below. Inskeep asks how the family is doing now. "I think we are doing as well as any family that's gone through this," says Sylvia. "We're really not special because we lost a child because people lose children every single day." Says Ron, "It's kind of like learning how to live without a lung or a leg." Interjects Sylvia, "I think it's worse." The 9-minute interview is absolutely worth a listen. (Read more Veterans Day stories.)

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