The Ultimate Sacrifice

This week, a wonderful young woman, Tess Bracy, will graduate, along with 700 other seniors, from Claudia Taylor “Lady Bird” Johnson High School in San Antonio, Texas.  While Tess is an incredible musician, academia and horse-lover, she is also a Gold Star daughter.

On March 31, 2005, Tess’s father, and my great friend, Capt Todd R. Bracy, died in a contingency zone in Albania while piloting a United States Air Force Special Operations MC-130H Combat Talon II aircraft. Along with Todd, a total of 9 heroes lost their lives that fatal night, defending freedom across the globe.

I was in Albania that night. Having just completed mission planning for the following night. It was my 10thwedding anniversary, but the events of that night overshadowed any celebration and changed the lives of hundreds, if not thousands of people forever. There is rarely a day that goes by that I don’t remember Todd and think of his surviving wife Tina, and of course Tess and her younger sister Tate. I will never forget these three ladies following a horse drawn caisson in Arlington National Cemetery on the path to laying Todd to rest for one last time.

When a serviceman or servicewoman dies in combat, they make the ultimate sacrifice for freedom. Often times, they leave a grieving spouse, children, family, friends, and surely a legacy of service. On Memorial Day, we honor their sacrifice.

Yes, most of us get the day off from work. We gather together with family and friends. We resurrect famous recipes, watch sports and find ways to have fun and relax. But, hopefully, each Memorial Day, we also take time to remember.

May we remember the fallen heroes like Capt Todd R Bracy and the crew of Wrath 11, the survivors, like Tina, Tess, and Tate and the other American Gold Star families who have lost loved ones in combat. And, may we remember those who continue to defend America and its freedoms knowing their pledge may require them to one day make the ultimate sacrifice.


Jeremy Kokenes
Executive Director,
Eberstein Witherite, LLP
Lt Col (R), USAF

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