I was prepared for the deployments, moving around every few years, and plans constantly changing, but I wasn’t prepared for this change in plans.

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Our Last Chat

Posted By Misti Waltenbaugh, Proud Military Widow of PFC Joshua Waltenbauh

My story; well I suppose I should start at the beginning.

My husband Joshua and I met in highschool.  We began dating on March 3, 2007.  I knew he was already enlisted in the military, set to go active duty.  (He did the split up as he was originally reserves.)  That June, he left for Ft. Eustis, VA.

On September 4, 2007 – exactly 2 weeks after I turned 18 and the day after our 6 month anniversary – I was in Newport News, VA in a beautiful rose garden setting – saying “I do!”  It was the most beautiful moment of my life, but sadly I had to return him to post that day to conitnue schooling until the end of October.

My husband was brilliant.  He graduated AIT with distinguished honors.  I couldn’t have been more proud of him!  He came home with me for 2 weeks, as he was scheduled to due hometown recruiting.  In that time, we bought a new car, had a second wedding so my dad could walk his only girl down the isle, suffered almost a week with a horrible flu, packed up the car, and headed on down to Ft. Hood, TX!  2000 miles away from “home”, we began our lives together. We made a new home.

Sadly enough, we knew what would happen as soon as we arrived.  My husband would be deployed to Iraq.  Thankfully, they decided not to deploy the “new guys” until January.  I got 2 months with my husband, and I am so thankful for those 2 months. I at least got our first Thanksgiving and Christmas together. I was lucky.

January 30, 2008 was what I thought would be the worst night of my life.  We loaded the car with all of the neatly packed duffle bags, which contained the gear that was once strewn across our bedroom floor. I waited until they would finally allow the family members into the gym.  As I sat there, in our last moments, I held it together just fine. We sat there and held each other, tried to joke to make the other smile.  Then they gave the 5 minute warning till final formation.  I lost it.  I could not stop crying as my husband stood and grabbed his ruck and weapon.  I stood to give him his last kiss; I didn’t want to let go, but I had to.  He had to go.  He couldn’t stand to see me cry.  He promised he would be home soon, safe and sound, and we would go on with our lives.  My husband and the other soldiers formed up, the commander said a prayer for them all.  I was in hysterics.  This was actually happening, I would not see my husband again until November for R&R. They marched to the buses and loaded up.  I stood outside, in front of his bus window, waving, blowing kisses, texting him that I loved him and to come home soon.  All the while I still crying.  That morning I drove home at 6AM, knowing my life would never be the same again.

We had regular contact which was wonderful, but I could notice a change in him 2 months into deployment.  He was becoming extremely closed off and paranoid. I reassured him and tried to help him the best I could, but there was only so much I could do over the phone.  As these things persisted, I encouraged him to talk to someone, seek help.  He assured me he had, only for me to later find out he hadn’t.

I was wrong when I thought January 30, 2008 was the worst day of my life, because on June 3, 2008 – my husband took his own life.  No letter, no explanation, nothing.  We chatted on IM beforehand, and I tried to tell him to not be selfish, to not do this.  I froze.  I didn’t know what to do; what to say.  What do you do in that situation? I wasn’t prepared to deal with this. What can you do when you are a million miles away?  He stopped chatting and that is when I knew what had happened. It was over, he took his own life at only 19 years old.  What could have happened or went so wrong that he did this? Why such a permanent resolution to a temporary problem? Why didn’t he think of me, the wife he was leaving behind, and what it would do to me? After a whirlwind of paperwork and flights, I laid my husband to rest on June 11, 2008.

I was prepared for the deployments, moving around every few years, and plans constantly changing, but I wasn’t prepared for this change in plans. I wasn’t prepared to become a widow at only 18 years old, having to pick out a casket or design a headstone. I wasn’t prepared to have a flag on my mantel and 6 boxes of belongings to represent my husband. Most of all, I wasn’t prepared to lose someone I love to such a horrible disease, suicide.

My husband was an amazing man. He was a loving husband who took care of me the best he could and if he would have had a chance, he would have been a great father. He never ceased to amaze me, and he never failed to put a smile on my face or make the room fill with laughter.  He was a dedicated soldier who knew his job and did it well.  He was a great friend, and would help you out anyway he could. He was truly a blessing to my life, an angel on earth, but God decided to give him his wings early.

Joshua will always be in my heart and I miss him more and more daily.

Our Last Chat

My story; well I suppose I should start at the beginning.

My husband Joshua and I met in highschool.  We began dating on March 3, 2007.  I knew he was already enlisted in the military, set to go active duty.  (He did the split up as he was originally reserves.)  That June, he left for Ft. Eustis, VA.

On September 4, 2007 – exactly 2 weeks after I turned 18 and the day after our 6 month anniversary – I was in Newport News, VA in a beautiful rose garden setting – saying “I do!”  It was the most beautiful moment of my life, but sadly I had to return him to post that day to conitnue schooling until the end of October.

My husband was brilliant.  He graduated AIT with distinguished honors.  I couldn’t have been more proud of him!  He came home with me for 2 weeks, as he was scheduled to due hometown recruiting.  In that time, we bought a new car, had a second wedding so my dad could walk his only girl down the isle, suffered almost a week with a horrible flu, packed up the car, and headed on down to Ft. Hood, TX!  2000 miles away from “home”, we began our lives together. We made a new home.

Sadly enough, we knew what would happen as soon as we arrived.  My husband would be deployed to Iraq.  Thankfully, they decided not to deploy the “new guys” until January.  I got 2 months with my husband, and I am so thankful for those 2 months. I at least got our first Thanksgiving and Christmas together. I was lucky.

January 30, 2008 was what I thought would be the worst night of my life.  We loaded the car with all of the neatly packed duffle bags, which contained the gear that was once strewn across our bedroom floor. I waited until they would finally allow the family members into the gym.  As I sat there, in our last moments, I held it together just fine. We sat there and held each other, tried to joke to make the other smile.  Then they gave the 5 minute warning till final formation.  I lost it.  I could not stop crying as my husband stood and grabbed his ruck and weapon.  I stood to give him his last kiss; I didn’t want to let go, but I had to.  He had to go.  He couldn’t stand to see me cry.  He promised he would be home soon, safe and sound, and we would go on with our lives.  My husband and the other soldiers formed up, the commander said a prayer for them all.  I was in hysterics.  This was actually happening, I would not see my husband again until November for R&R. They marched to the buses and loaded up.  I stood outside, in front of his bus window, waving, blowing kisses, texting him that I loved him and to come home soon.  All the while I still crying.  That morning I drove home at 6AM, knowing my life would never be the same again.

We had regular contact which was wonderful, but I could notice a change in him 2 months into deployment.  He was becoming extremely closed off and paranoid. I reassured him and tried to help him the best I could, but there was only so much I could do over the phone.  As these things persisted, I encouraged him to talk to someone, seek help.  He assured me he had, only for me to later find out he hadn’t.

I was wrong when I thought January 30, 2008 was the worst day of my life, because on June 3, 2008 – my husband took his own life.  No letter, no explanation, nothing.  We chatted on IM beforehand, and I tried to tell him to not be selfish, to not do this.  I froze.  I didn’t know what to do; what to say.  What do you do in that situation? I wasn’t prepared to deal with this. What can you do when you are a million miles away?  He stopped chatting and that is when I knew what had happened. It was over, he took his own life at only 19 years old.  What could have happened or went so wrong that he did this? Why such a permanent resolution to a temporary problem? Why didn’t he think of me, the wife he was leaving behind, and what it would do to me? After a whirlwind of paperwork and flights, I laid my husband to rest on June 11, 2008.

I was prepared for the deployments, moving around every few years, and plans constantly changing, but I wasn’t prepared for this change in plans. I wasn’t prepared to become a widow at only 18 years old, having to pick out a casket or design a headstone. I wasn’t prepared to have a flag on my mantel and 6 boxes of belongings to represent my husband. Most of all, I wasn’t prepared to lose someone I love to such a horrible disease, suicide.

My husband was an amazing man. He was a loving husband who took care of me the best he could and if he would have had a chance, he would have been a great father. He never ceased to amaze me, and he never failed to put a smile on my face or make the room fill with laughter.  He was a dedicated soldier who knew his job and did it well.  He was a great friend, and would help you out anyway he could. He was truly a blessing to my life, an angel on earth, but God decided to give him his wings early.

Joshua will always be in my heart and I miss him more and more daily.

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