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The last stop: A resting place in Arlington page 2
Tom Sileo's op-ed, The Unknown Soldiers: The Last Stop

Date published: 11/1/2012

continued

Tommy was suffering from headaches, flashbacks, and insomnia. According to his father, traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress from his Iraq deployment caused the symptoms. The Marine was prescribed medication and tried to live a normal life with his wife and two children.

In 2009, Tommy deployed to Afghanistan after renewing his military contract. While admiring his son's bravery, Bob was also concerned about the lingering effects of TBI and PTS. But Tommy served honorably in Afghanistan, particularly while taking enemy fire during an ambush.

"He got his second combat action ribbon for that," Bob said. "He never mentioned a word about it."

Not long after Tommy's November 2009 return, Bob learned his son was again overwhelmed by violent headaches and nightmares, prompting more psychological treatment. When Tommy called home on May 9, 2010, the Marine was at a tragic crossroads.

"He was in absolute tears and told his mother he didn't know what was going on," Bob said. "He was all jumbled up in his head."

The next day, Sgt. Bagosy, 25, fled a hospital at North Carolina's Camp Lejeune, where he was being held for treatment. After a brief pursuit by military police, Tommy shot himself in the head.

"We don't know if he felt like he was being chased by the Taliban," Bob said. "But in that one moment of insanity, he just pulled the trigger."

For Tommy's loved ones, the last two-plus years have been filled with painful questions.

"I know the who, what, where, when, and how," Bob said. "But the why has been eluding me."

Bob, who served in the Marine Corps Reserve, doesn't blame the military for his son's suicide. While searching for answers about Tommy's death, the grieving father is proud of his son's life, and particularly his service in Afghanistan and Iraq.

On Memorial Day, Bob visited Tommy's grave in Section 59 of Arlington National Cemetery, one section over from many of America's most celebrated post-9/11 heroes.

"I looked over [at Section 60] and there were people on lawn chairs it was like a community there," Bob said. "Tommy's buried with a lot of honored people, but there's nobody there from Iraq and Afghanistan."

While Bob supports his daughter-in-law's efforts to move Tommy's grave to Section 60, he also remembers the wisdom he once imparted to his son. When it comes to a final place of rest, it doesn't get any bigger than Arlington.

"He wanted a big tombstone," Bob said. "And he got one."

Tom Sileo is a columnist for Creators Syndicate.


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