I grew up in Piedmont, South Carolina in a small neighborhood, as they all are in Piedmont. One of my best buddies lived one street over & every day after school we would go into the woods with handsaws & cut down trees to make way for a bath path we wanted to ride. We were country kids, we liked to get dirty & watch NASCAR on Sundays. Justin was one of my best friends in elementary school & we were both part of safety patrol (we thought we were the coolest kids in town).
Every year, the fifth grade class took a weeklong trip to Washington D.C to see all the monuments & take a tour of the White House. A few months before our trip, we were told that we would not be going due to the D.C snipers & high terror threat that lingered heavily not even two years after September 11th. I clearly remember the conversation we both had in the hallway of Sue Cleveland Elementary when Justin told me he wanted to fight off the bad guys so we could go on our field trip. That it wasn’t fair that we couldn’t go because there were people that wanted to hurt Americans. It wasn't long afterwards Justin & his family moved away & we eventually lost contact.
A few years ago Justin got in touch with me via social media & we caught up through messages over a couple of weeks. One day in 2011, I saw Justin at a CVS in Simpsonville, but as I was making my way out, I decided not to turn around & say hello because I didn’t want to bother him & I was in a rush to get to my fiancés apartment. That decision, however small it seemed at the time, is one of the biggest regrets I have. Justin was deployed to Afghanistan in December 2011. On December, 27th 2011, his nineteenth day in Gardez Afghanistan his vehicle ran over an IED and Justin M. Whitmire was killed along with two other soldiers, Sargent Noah M. Korte & Specialist Kurt W. Kern.
I still have a Terry Labonte license plate that Justin bought for me at a garage sale with his allowance money during the fifth grade. How many kids would use there allowance money to buy their friend a gift? Justin did, he was an awesome friend grow up with, even if it was only for a couple of years our paths were crossed.
Take some time to pray for the families of soldiers who have made the sacrifice or have loved ones fighting overseas.
That is a very touching tribute to your friend Justin God Bless him and all of the others who fought for our country. They give us the freedom we sometimes take for granted. It kind of makes worrying about a football game seem silly.