A Farewell Letter from Iraq

Soldier's Widow Keeps His Memory Alive for Young Sons

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Pfc. Jesse A. Givens

Pfc. Jesse A. Givens Courtesy Melissa Givens hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy Melissa Givens

Exactly one year ago, on May 1, 2003, Pfc. Jesse A. Givens of Ft. Carson, Colo., was killed when his tank crashed into the Euphrates River in Iraq. He was 34. His company had been deployed to Iraq less than three weeks earlier.

A letter arrived a few weeks later for his family — pregnant wife Melissa and young son Dakota. Pfc. Givens had written an emotional and touching "goodbye" letter to be opened only if the worst happened. About the time the letter arrived, Melissa gave birth to their second son, Carson.

An excerpt from Givens' letter

Credit: Courtesy Melissa Givens

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Read the letter

Today, as NPR's Jeff Brady reports, Melissa Givens and her sons are still struggling to cope with the loss of a husband and father. While other soldiers from Ft. Carson have returned to an area dotted with "welcome home" signs, she's had to teach her youngest son about his father with photographs and mementos.

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