RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
Time now for StoryCorps. In honor of Memorial Day, we bring you the story of Sally Edwards and Lue Hutchinson. In 1991, each had a son serving in the Gulf War. Sally's son, Jack Edwards, was a Marine captain. Lue's son, Tom Butts, was a staff sergeant in the Army. The two men did not know one another, but today, their mothers are best friends.
Sally and Lue recently sat down for StoryCorps.
SALLY EDWARDS: Jack was killed very early in the air war. They were the cover for a medical mission. The helicopter lost its top rotor blade, and they didn't make it back.
LUE HUTCHINSON: Tom went to the Army, and then he did something that I thought was absolutely stupid: He learned how to jump out of perfectly good airplanes. But he loved it. And it was the last day of the war. I worked in Wal-Mart, and we found out the war had ended. I was ecstatic when I went home and came home to a driveway full of cars, not knowing at that time, until my stepson came out and told me Tommy was gone.
EDWARDS: Tommy's death was in the newspaper, and I wanted somebody to talk to, because it wasn't like World War II and Vietnam when everybody had a neighbor who'd lost somebody. So I wrote to you. I thought if you responded, maybe I'd have somebody that I could talk to about how you felt and how I felt.
HUTCHINSON: And your letter was absolutely right on the deck. Those words: If you need help and you want to talk, I'm here. That's what I needed.
EDWARDS: And so did I, or I wouldn't have written the letter. The last 22 years would have been hell without you, Lue.
HUTCHINSON: It would have been hell without you, too.
EDWARDS: Because what's in our hearts, we share.
HUTCHINSON: When you're the mother and your child dies in that horrific way, the memory gets tolerable, but never really, really goes away.
EDWARDS: I don't know what I would do if, on a bad day, I couldn't pick up the phone and call you and share it.
HUTCHINSON: Neither could I.
MONTAGNE: In honor of Memorial Day, Lue Hutchinson and Sally Edwards for StoryCorps in Cincinnati. Jack Edwards and Tom Butts are buried at Arlington National Cemetery. This interview will be archived at the American Folk Life Center at the Library of Congress. And for the StoryCorps podcast, visit npr.org.