Our Hero. Our Son. SFC David James Todd, Jr.
SFC David James Toddd, Jr.
May 26, 1972 - August 20, 2008
I would like to start my letter by telling you the story of that fateful day, as told by one of the twelve our son saved that day August 20, 2008. Our son was a soldier that every man wants to be, a father that every man hopes to be, and a friend who was admired and respected by all those who knew him, a true and honest human being that was always there for you. He's the definition of a true hero, never giving up until the mission was done, and never ever leaving a fellow soldier behind. That was proven in a fierce battle in Bala Morghab, Afghanistan August 20, 2008, where he helped save 12 soldiers. He firmly believed this motto: “no man left behind”. The American flag was carried inside of a bullet-proof vest over the back of SFC Travis Leland from Colorado during a portion of his tour of duty in Afghanistan. Traditionally, American flags are carried by patriots to be used as visual markers for aircraft, flown over controlled areas by American warriors, and used to cover the bodies of our brothers in arms, who have lost their lives in our nation’s defense. SSG Henry had prepared David’s body for return home to America and had no standard American flag instead had to drape David’s body with an American flag constructed by elementary school children from a bed sheet and tempera paint. The stars of the flag were stamped handprints of the American school children who supported their fathers, uncles and brothers of the Farah team. This flag was carried into Badghis Province of Afghanistan and the city of Bala Murghab. Badghis was one of the few Provinces of Afghanistan which was not conquered by the Russian Invasion of the late 1970’s and has lived under various warlord and Taliban rule since the withdrawal of the Russian Army. This flag was flown in the face of the enemy, from 8 August until 26 August 2008 over the newly established patrol base in Bala Murghab. On 20 August 2008 SFC Travis Leland was involved in a nine hour battle in which a twelve man patrol became beleaguered and in dire need of extraction from overwhelming Taliban forces. SFC David J. Todd Jr., of San Antonio, Texas, organized a quick reaction force of American soldiers and came to the aid of his men. SFC Todd served as a gunner during the fight, and recovered his brothers through a barrage of small arms fire and rocket propelled grenade impacts. He was killed during the extraction of the patrol from the city of Joy-I-Khawaja just 3 kilometers south of Bala Murghab. After the battle of 20 August 2008, this flag’s grommets were severed from its halyards’ never to be flown again and it was to be used to drape the body of Our friend SFC David J. Todd, Jr. However, this flag was remounted upon the pole to mark the base during a Taliban counter-attack upon the patrols return. It is because of David’s sacrifice that the 12 men of the patrol survived. We will never forget David, our brother, a leader of men. David was committed to his men and moreover he loved his family and country. Often we would see him awake at sunrise talking to his family. He and the other fathers shared stories of their children and old memories of each of their childhood. One of our favorite memories of David is when his team stationed in Delaram, Afghanistan was preparing dinner. A young soldier attempted to grill steaks for the team, only to completely burn the first rack of steaks. David, pushed Jamie aside and began to prepare the steaks, taunting him for his age and inexperience at the grill. It is a simple memory, but to his team, so was David. He was a proud son, loving husband, father and friend. His leadership qualities are a continuing yardstick for other’s to strive for. I will miss you David. Thank you for saving my life. This is David’s flag
Medals our son received during his service to our country:
He received the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal with Bronze Star, Southwest Asia Service Medal with Bronze Service Star, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Bronze Service Star, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal with "M" device, Noncommissioned Officers Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, NATO Medal, Combat Action Badge, Air Assault Badge, Driver and Mechanic Badge Bar, Driver-T (for tracked vehicles) Weapons Qualification Badge, Rifle (Inscription: Rifle) Expert, and the Overseas Service Bar.
Our son was a soldier that every man wants to be, a father that every man hopes to be, and a friend who was admired and respected by all those who knew him, a true and honest human being that was always there for you.
Our son is a man who loved the outdoors. Fishing, hunting, BBQn, picnics, were things he enjoyed with his children. But first things first, he always had to have that cup of coffee in his hands. Since he was a little boy, Dave always asked for a cup of coffee. Well, I would put more milk than coffee, but it was a good pretend game we had. He was fascinated as a youngster to take things apart and than put them together (or tried to, many things were taken apart and well just didn’t look the same after he tried putting them together again). He loved helping people, it didn’t matter who it was or what they needed help nor what time of the day, either. He always had time for his troops, phone would ring and there was a call from a “buddy” in his unit or a friend needing help. Our Dave, was never too tired or have an excuse not to help. He made time for them. Once when he was on leave prior to going to Desert Storm, he walked down the street and noticed they were building a church. He went to the Foreman and asked him if they needed help. The Foreman told him, they did. Whatever the Foreman needed Dave did it gladly. The time came when he had to leave and his Foreman knowing he was in the military and was headed overseas, wanted to give him a Foreman job. My son smiled and told him, that maybe after he got out of the military he would look him up. Well, that never happened, he made the military his life. His love for his grandparents showed in so many ways not by words but by his actions. Ready to help rebuilt that bathroom, or calling them-telling them he was ok, being around them whenever possible. He was their first grandson and they loved him and were so Proud of him, as we all are.
Dave loved being in the Army, as a young boy (about 11) he wanted an “Army man” suit really bad so I went to an Army surplus store located next to Ft Sam Houston military installation and found one his size. He asked for a helmet and combat boots also, how could I resist. So, he finally had his uniform on and he was so happy grinning from ear to ear. I still have that photograph.
Dave loved to BBQ and this special technique to BBQ was handed down from grandfather to father to son. When they were in Delaram, Afghanistan, he built a BBQ out of old bricks stones and such (see photo enclosed) . Nothing was too difficult for Dave, once he put his mind to it, he did it, period.
He loved animals, horses mostly. Whenever he saw a horse out in the country he would stop by and pet it. Stray dogs, cats, rabbits, would always find a comfortable home with our Dave. He found a donkey in one of the villages in Afghanistan and sent a picture riding the donkey. (it was like he was touring Afghanistan in style). Dave’s dream was to live in the country, work underneath that sun, doing everything he could. He loved life, his country, his children, and he loved us,!
From the time our son was born, I called him my “Little Man”, well my little man is gone, our hearts are broken, he was our only son. But we are Proud of him, he laid down his life so 12 others could live, he believed in his country, the mission, and “no man left behind”, that surely was proven on that fateful day.
Thank you, for allowing me to tell you the story of this wonderful young man, our son, a father and brother, SFC David James Todd, Jr.
(ps: his son just finished basic training in the US Army and finished paratrooper trng. He wants to be the man his father was and to make him Proud. He already has, he believes in his country and is ready to defend it as his father has done, proudly helping in Haiti, with the 82nd Airborne)
No Greater Love than a Man who lays down his life for his Brothers in Arm and his country!
Proud Army Parents:
Gold and Blue Star Mom
SFC David James Todd, Jr. KIA 8/20/08 Bala Murghab, Afghanistan