On Friday night coming back from a TV commercial shoot from my job, I told me husband of my idea for my second blog post on "Mom Means Business". We were sharing thoughts, and I was getting pumped-up to spend Saturday morning blogging.
Early Saturday morning we received the horrible news that my cousin Jake Whetten had been killed while on active duty in Afghanistan on Friday. I was shocked...in utter disbelief. I knew he was a highly trained and skilled soldier, and received particularly dangerous assignments, but I thought he was invincible.
I was not close with Jake as an adult. I remember him mostly as an active little kid...8 years younger than me. He enlisted in the Army right out of high school. Through the years I heard of his different military assignments from his mother or my dad. Jake was an army ranger, and in the 82nd AirBorne Unit in Iraq. Family members often talked of his bravery...that he was made to be a soldier and he loved his life in the military. In the last year or so I had followed him on Facebook, read his updates and viewed photos of him in Afghanistan. I really enjoyed his posts. I now regret that the only time I sent him a personal message letting him know how proud I am of him was on Veterans Day 2009...via Facebook.
Jake left this earth acting on what he believed in, doing what he loved. He gave the ultimate sacrifice defending freedom and liberty for all. I love him for his service, and proud to share the last name of "Whetten" with him. He is our family's hero.
"Freedom is not free." That statement became quite personal for me and the entire Whetten family this weekend. May you rest in peace Jake.