A Gold Star mother never forgets
The holidays are a busy time for Deborah Getz, but not because she’s celebrating.
Instead, Getz spends the weeks after Thanksgiving organizing an annual toy drive for hundreds of local military families. Then she hosts the Military Santa Claus Christmas Party in mid-December, which is a free event for all active duty military families or children who lost a parent serving in Afghanistan or Iraq.
“We don’t really do Christmas anymore,” she said.
The Roseville resident hasn’t celebrated the holiday since her 18-year-old son, Kristofer Thomas, was killed in action in Afghanistan.
She says she has a hole in her heart that will never mend.
Her youngest son graduated from Roseville High School a semester early in January 2006. As a teenager, he did boxing and martial arts, enjoyed the outdoors and listened to rap music. He rode a motorcycle and volunteered for the Roseville Police Activities League.
Getz says she remembers her son as a 14-year-old begging his father’s friend, an army recruiter, to “get me in, get me in” to the army. He became a U.S. Army Ranger at 17 and deployed to Afghanistan in January 2007.
Thomas joined the army because he wanted to help people living in oppressive situations, he wrote in an essay for his U.S. government class.
“I questioned the reasons why we are at war, good and bad,” Thomas wrote. “I came to the conclusion that people fighting for the U.S. are everyday people, my brother Nic included. I don’t want to just sit back and watch the casualty numbers climb. I need to do something to help out.”
He died along with seven other soldiers, out off 22 onboard, when a helicopter malfunctioned and crashed on Feb. 17, 2007.
Thomas was the first Roseville resident to die in action while serving in Afghanistan, according to government reports.
“It would be easy to say that February 18, 2007 was the hardest day of my life, but in all honesty I’d have to say there isn’t a day when the pain is so overwhelming that I have to push myself just to put one foot in front of the other,” Getz wrote on her website.
Thomas’s death nearly destroyed Getz before she decided to direct her energy toward supporting other military families and founded Never Forget Our Fallen. The nonprofit organization aims to honor and remember fallen soldiers, and provide assistance to service men and women and their families.
Getz is a Gold Star Mom. Following World War I, a group of women formed the American Gold Star Mothers, Inc. in 1929 to provide support for mothers who lost their sons or daughters in war. Nearly 150 Gold Star Mothers chapters now exist in the United States.
“I have become a Proud Gold Star Mom,” she said. “I believe it is my duty to help our communities not forget the sacrifices that our servicemen and servicewomen have made for the ongoing freedom we so cherish in this country.”
Getz’s older son, Nicholes Doan fought active duty in Iraq and was honorably discharged in August 2008.
“This makes me a Blue Star (Mom), too,” Getz said.
Sena Christian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at SenaC_RsvPT.
Date of birth: Oct. 6, 1988
Date of death: Feb. 17, 2007
High school: Roseville High School
Dreams for the future: To become a U.S Army Ranger
Rank in military: Army Ranger
Where killed: Airborne in Afghanistan
Honoring our heroes
The Journal continues its week-long series to honor those who’ve served and those who gave their lives during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. To read stories, view photos and watch video, visit www.auburnjournal.com.
Sunday – How does the community help? A look at what’s available for veterans
Monday – A father remembers his son
Tuesday – Family keeps soldier at home year-round
Wednesday – Wife carries on husband’s memory
Thursday – A look at local soldiers who’ve lost their lives
Friday – A Gold Star parent keeps traditions alive
Sunday – A soldier comes home