Memorial Day for many of us is a time to reflect on the ultimate sacrifices that members of our military make so that we continue to enjoy the freedoms that we have.
My buddy U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Jerry Bonifacio Jr., 28, was among them. Jerry was killed on Oct. 10, 2005, when a car careened towards the Baghdad checkpoint he was guarding and detonated, killing him instantly.
The news of his death hit everyone who knew him pretty hard.
“Not Jerry, it can’t be Jerry,” I kept saying to myself. “Damn.”
It seemed like only yesterday that we were hanging out in the parking lot of the Old Bourbon Street Bar and Grill in Concord, drinking beers, and waiting for our band to perform that night. It was the last time I would see him alive.
He was scheduled to deploy to Baghdad shortly after the show and I remember hugging him as the night ended and telling him to be careful over there. Jerry responded with a smile and an assurance that where he would be stationed was not as dangerous as other parts of the country.
How could I have known that it would be the last time I would see him?
Jerry was a quiet guy, but was passionate about his friends, video games, heavy metal music and comic books. The guy’s old-school Nintendo game collection was second to none and I can remember wondering to myself where he got all those games. Jerry was also passionate about his country and serving in Iraq was his way of expressing that.
Jerry was perhaps one of the nicest, most well-liked guys that I have ever known and each year, when Memorial Day (and Veterans Day) comes around, our family lays flowers – sometimes pinwheels – on his grave. This year will be no exception.
I will take my daughters to his gravesite and place flowers that we grow in our back yard on Jerry’s grave so that they too, may know his sacrifice and the sacrifice of hundreds of thousands of members of our military who have laid their lives down for this county.
"One Below Zero" by Counterstep
(Lyrics: Eric Jones, former U.S. Army Ranger. Music: Counterstep)
Time to catch your flight go in peace bro, please tread lightly.
Try to keep your faith do not fear no, please don’t forget to write me.
When it seems to get out of control, just pretend you’re beside me.
I’ll try to wish it away screaming Hell No. You know I’d rather they fight me.
Can you save face? Bleed out for weeks? See things for real? Please do not speak.
A Fallen Hero.
A Fallen Hero.