unknown to most, A hero to all
“Fly with the Angels soldier boy, you are our hero.” A quote known to all who have seen the remembrance page of SPC Chad D. Coleman, of the 101st Airborne division. A quote used often by my grandmother, and it really shows how much those who know the story of Chad truly respect what he did for us. The war against Afghanistan has its protestors and its followers, but in the end those who truly matter are the ones that are overseas; the ones giving up time with loved ones, the ones who put the values of themselves and their country over family and everything else. That was my hero. That was my best friend. That was my cousin. That was my brother. Few in Oshkosh have heard of SPC Coleman, less have heard his story. He is unknown to most, but a hero to all.
As a young child Chad was born to Brian and Shanon Coleman. He was an only child. The closest things he had to siblings were his cousins. He was a loving child, always putting his family and friends always before himself. From a young age to anyone who had just talked to Chad for a few minutes knew how patriotic he was, and that it was obvious that he was going to be a military man. He wanted to follow in the footsteps of his hero, our grandpa, who also was in the military. Chad’s family and friends knew about his military love on a whole different level though. From playing war with nerf guns, to how he dressed, to the songs he listened to, anything but the military wasn’t even an option for this youngster. As he got older he constantly talked about how he was going to enlist into the army when he was 18 and nobody could stop him. It was impossible to tell him that joining the army wasn’t a good idea because if you tried to, before you could finish your sentence, he would shoot a barrage of questions to you that would instantly prove that the army was his calling. Still though, he was unknown to many. He wasn’t your high school quarterback, or the prom king. He didn't fit into school cliques but the friends he held close to him. Reluctantly, though he moved down to Georgia with his parents and continued his life there. Far from his family and friends in southeastern Wisconsin, he made new friends and continued on with his life leading to the army. He got his GED and even though that doesn’t look as good on paper as a high school diploma, he was a smart man, and had different plans in life then attending college. He enlisted into the army, still unknown to many.
Then the next chapter in Chad’s life moved him to Kentucky to go to basic training at Fort Knox. He sent countless letters to all about what he was doing and how much fun he was having. Weekends allowed him to come home or back to Wisconsin and visit wearing his beloved uniform everywhere he went, even in the midst of a warm 90+ degree day in Wisconsin, Chad would be in full uniform and it would be in one of those last weekend visits, the last time I would see him. Chad did remarkable at basic, had to be all the hunting help from his hero, but he continued on with his life then becoming a part of the 101st Airborne Division. He was sent to Afghanistan, still unknown to many.
Now overseas Chad still found way to talk to his family and friends. The family became closer through Facebook. Hard to find the perfect time to talk because we were always either going to sleep when he was waking up or he was about to go out to a mission during the night when we woke up made it hard to hold long conversations. He always posted pictures of himself and his buddies in the Army for my grandma who was making a scrapbook of his time overseas, and it’s sad to say he never got to see how remarkable it looked when it was finished. August 27, 2010, just a few days before we were set to go to back to school my dad comes and sits us down and says he has some bad news. I never thought in a million years that I would hear the word that would come out of his mouth. Just 33 days before he was to come home to the states, then the 20 year old PFC was Killed in Action. Still unknown to many. Now a hero has many different qualities, some such as selflessness, valor, courage and bravery. He had all these qualities and more. He gave up his safe life at home with his friends and family to go into the army. He had valor in the combats he was faced in. He had the courage to actually enlist in the army. And he was brave. Need I say more to why this fine young man is a Hero. Ultimately he gave his life for all Americans, yet so few have ever heard the name much less the story. There are many more men like this. Men with unknown names and stories: stories waiting to be told. Everyone has a hero for a reason. Mine is Chad. He was my hero before he enlisted, he is my hero after he died.
There are definitions of a hero but I don’t think any of them are correct. When I think of a hero I think of someone you have talked to and who has been there for your triumphs and demises, but always there to give you advice and help you better yourself. That was Chad. Ultimately my hero gave his life for our country in August of 2010, and now I have the honor and privilege to tell the story about one of the greatest soldiers this country has ever had. Men die, but a hero will always live on. A hero only dies when his story is left untold. “Fly with the Angels soldier boy, you will always be our hero.”