Blog Helps Marine Wife Cope With Husband's Death
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RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:
The 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment is coming home. During its deployment in Afghanistan some have already returned, casualties of war. Corporal Jonathan Porto was one of 10 men killed in his battalion. He died in March, just shy of his first wedding anniversary. His wife, Rachel Porto, now keeps his memory alive through her blog, called A Little Pink in a World of Camo. Bobbie O'Brien from member station WUSF in Florida has more.
BOBBIE O: I will always be a Marine wife. That's who Rachel Porto titled her blog entry three days after her husband died when his vehicle rolled over in Afghanistan. When she first got the news she questioned what her role would be now.
RACHEL PORTO: I just remember looking at one of my friends and I was like, am I still a Marine wife? You know, once a Marine, always a Marine. I was like, is that the same for me?
BRIEN: Rachel started writing her blog just after marrying Corporeal Jonathan Porto in May, 2009. She says writing so soon after his death seemed a natural way to reach out to her blog followers.
PORTO: For me it's more about like the amount of support. You know, I write something and people thank me for writing it or thank me for sharing it. And they remind me that I am strong.
BRIEN: On a recent family visit there, Rachel recalls a photo that's dear to her heart. She was eight months pregnant, her husband is caressing her stomach just before he deployed.
PORTO: He, you know, got down on his knee and just talked to her and told her to take care of me and that kind of stuff.
BRIEN: That's the closest Porto came to holding his daughter, Ariana, who is now six months old. Yet, her grandmother Evelyn Jewell says Ariana coos every time she sees his picture.
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EVELYN JEWELL: I put Jonny's picture next to her, and I say, daddy's sitting next to you. And she just lit up. The feet started going. She started laughing. The hands started going. It was like, is he telling you a joke?
BRIEN: Porto joined the Marines in March 2008. Before that, he was living in Pinellas County, Florida installing hurricane shutters for a living. His mother, Rachel Bernaby, says her son wanted to do something more meaningful with his life.
RACHEL BERNABY: He was so tired of just doing jobs. He took pride in what he did. And he went and saw the Marine recruiter and he snagged him up and he was whisked away. Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom.
BRIEN: Porto was just as determined when it came to choosing his wife. Rachel remembers the end of their first date outside a bowling alley on a small Army post in Aberdeen, Maryland.
PORTO: He asked if he could kiss me, and I was like, Yeah, sure, whatever. And then he kissed me and my knees went weak. I thought I was going to fall down and my whole body tingled. And I was like, oh, this is something new.
BRIEN: Rachel Porto's blog, A little Pink in a World of Camo, won the best military spouse blog award. Rachel says it's become a source of strength for her and she hopes for other Marine wives as well.
PORTO: I had to promise him no moping. I have it on video. He's like no moping. And then he gives all these suggestions of other things I could do if I feel sad. And he drives me to continue on and to remain alive.
BRIEN: For NPR News, I'm Bobbie O'Brien in Tampa.
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MONTAGNE: This is NPR News.
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