Friday, June 21, 2024

Harvest Happenings — June 2023

Last month, we observed Memorial Day. Most people associate Memorial Day with barbeques, picnics and a three-day weekend. The day is actually intended for us to pause and remember those U.S. military personnel who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. At Harvest, we kicked off the weekend with a party but first we paused as a community to honor those who died while serving our great country.

We welcomed a new family to the Harvest family, the Evans. They have amazing story and both have been on the frontlines defending our country. They have seen the sacrifice of American heroes firsthand. I would love to introduce you to them. They are also my heroes and I think after you learn more about them, they will be your heroes as well.

Gretchen and Robert Evans of Harvest.

Navy Captain and Chaplain Robert Evans and Army Command Sergeant Major (CSM) Gretchen Evans moved into Harvest last month. They are the kindest people you will ever meet and have an amazing love story, one for another time. Chaplain Evans was stationed in Afghanistan with CSM Gretchen Evans, that’s actually how they met. Gretchen recalls watching Robert minister to the young men and women and was touched by his compassion for all people regardless of their religious beliefs. These men and women were seeing war firsthand.

I asked Gretchen why Robert was such a great Chaplain. She told me this story that is hard to repeat but needs to be shared. The troops were out on a convoy when they were ambushed. The soldiers fought off the enemy but it wasn’t without casualties. These 21-24 year old soldiers gathered themselves, the injured, and the bodies of their fellow soldiers (some were just body parts) and returned to the compound. Just as hard as it was to read that sentence (and write it), it was even harder for these soldiers to live it. Robert would be at the gate when they returned to the compound to console, pray, and just be a shoulder to cry on. Chaplains play a huge role in our military and it was a job that Robert Evans did with grace and excellence. His compassion and resilience is admirable.

CSM Gretchen Evans joined the military at the age of 19. She has held every leadership position from squad leader to Command Sergeant Major. She was leading 30,000 troops in Afghanistan when she came under heavy mortar fire. CSM Evans was thrown headfirst into a bunker while trying to get her troops to safety. Days later, she woke up with a traumatic brain injury and permanent hearing loss, ending her 27-year military career as one of the most decorated women veterans in U.S. history.

She recently wrote a book of short stories about her service. It’s called “Leading from the Front.” One of the most touching stories is how she remembers the soldiers she lost in the war. CSM Evans is a runner. She would run around the compound in Afghanistan every day. Her favorite time to run was when it was raining. The reason? So she could cry and mourn the loss of soldiers who died in battle. As a woman and as a Command Sergeant Major, she never wanted to show weakness. She had to always be strong and confident for her troops. The rain provided her with a disguise so she could let tears to roll down her face. CSM Evans carries a piece of paper in a waterproof bag that has every soldier’s name that was lost in battle under her command. She mourns for them and honors them by remembering their service.

That is what Memorial Day is all about. Let us never forget the men and women who bravely served our country and paid the ultimate sacrifice, their life.

CTG Staff
CTG Staff
The Cross Timbers Gazette News Department

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