Mother of a Fallen Soldier


APRIL 21, 2003 · On Feb. 27, 1991, the first President Bush announced the end of the war in Iraq. Like so many other mothers across the country, Aileen Gentry celebrated. Her son, Army Staff Sgt. Kenneth Gentry, had been serving in the Gulf for months, and she badly wanted him home. It wasn't until March 1 that Aileen found out her son had been killed -- shot by Iraqi soldiers just hours before the Bush announcement. These days, with another war in Iraq winding down, Aileen says she's been spending a great deal of time thinking about the day she learned of her son's death. This is Aileen Gentry's War Diary.

We had watched TV and we were so excited that the president had called the war, you know, over. And we counted on our fingers how long it would be before the troops would be out of there. And... our local paper, somebody from there called us and wanted to know how we felt about this. And I told them that we were excited, we were making popcorn and we were going to stay up and watch this all night long, not knowing that Kenny was already dead.

"We were going to stay up and watch this all night long, not knowing that Kenny was already dead."

But anyway, we got the word on March 1. That night, we did not think the military would come here because he had a wife in Germany, and we knew they would go to the first of kin, you know. But she called her parents that lived in Clarksville, which is like 50 miles from here, and told them to come and tell us -- not to call us, but to come and tell us. They came up that morning, and then that night, the military came here to tell us about it.

Somebody, on the day that we got word about our son, presented us with this monstrous, big American flag, and one of the men that worked with my husband made us a flagpole, a tall flagpole. And my husband, he would put that flag up every morning and take it down at night. See, the rules are you don't leave them up without a light on. He was in the process of running a light to that so he wouldn't have to do that when he died. That was the first thing I did after my husband died. I had the light run up to that flagpole. And so there's a light that comes on at nighttime and shines on that flag all night long.


NPR's Privacy Policy

Copyright 2003 NPR