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My name is Kathy Boskovitch, mother of Cpl. Jeff Boskovitch who was killed in action in Iraq on August 2, 2005 during Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF).

Jeff was a great kid! He was the energy of our family and always the center of attention either through his humor or his skills. He was the kid that cut his grandfather’s lawn every week, loved his family, worked hard and played even harder.

My fondest memory was Jeff’s  time playing football at Normandy High School.  I remember his first game as a freshman when he was asked to step up and play varsity as the quarterback. It was against Lakewood and Jeff came in the second half. We were losing pretty badly by that time. Jeff went on steadfast as nervous as he was, touchdown after touchdown. Even though we won the second half, there were too many points ahead of us to recover. In my heart, he was a star.

After many years in the Navy Sea Cadets, I thought Jeff had a sure ride into Annapolis.  I saw a dream come true with him graduating as a 2nd Lieutenant.  However, Jeff switched up on us and decided to join the United States Marine Corps. Even though I was dismayed, I saw my son, a man, making a decision to become a part of one of the greatest brotherhoods in our nation.

Jeff finished his boot c amp at Paris Island in 2000. This was a time that I followed him every step of the way with rosary in hand.  Investigating and researching  what each week would bring for him and praying desperately as he went through the Crucible. He became that Marine, our Devil Dog and no parent was prouder than I at graduation day. It was 105 degrees and the black flags were waving, but we got him home. It felt like I dragged him through the depths of hell to bring him back to Ohio.  He graduated Pfc. and he had that knack and skill for hitting the target. Hence, our Sniper.

Then came the dreadful  day of August 1, 2005…

I want to share with you, the public, my family’s appreciation of overwhelming support for Jeff and our family throughout these very difficult past few weeks.

I came home from work on the evening of August 1, 2005 and was only in the house for a few minutes before the front doorbell rang. The dogs went running and barking to the front door to see what company was about to enter. As I approached the front door, my husband followed keeping the dogs at bay. As I opened the front door, I saw two marines standing there, one looking solemnly and directly into my eyes.

At first, I had no response. I didn’t get it. Why were they standing there?  It seemed like hours had passed with this initial confrontation. After a few moments, I then immediately felt the worst despair and deepest pain I had ever known in my entire life. Every mother’s worst nightmare was about to confront me, become a reality and I had no power to stop it. I turned to the two marines who had asked to enter. I tried to compose myself to find out the purpose of their visit even though I knew the horror that was about to take place in our lives.

The Lt. Colonel had explained that there was an ambush close to the city of Haditha, Iraq and five marines were killed. There were actually two sniper teams consisting of six marines. We were told that the Iraqi’s gun fire lasted only seconds and was also heard by air and communication by a third sniper team which was approximately two miles behind the first and second sniper team. Our son Jeff was duty status whereabouts unknown. I felt very sad for the other families being notified at the same time we were, but felt a bit of hope our son was still alive. I had asked if a search and rescue team were out to find Jeff and it was a situation of you make your calls and I will make mine and we will find Jeff. I thanked them for coming over and they said as soon as information became available they would be back to the house to inform us.

I immediately gathered the family. Jeff’s brother Brian, his sister Kim, and grandmother. I tried to be completely composed speaking to each one telling one that we were going to dinner or the Marines came by with some information on Jeff and I needed them home or come over as soon as possible …whatever lie I had to make up in order to get each one here safely and without occurrence. One by one they came in hearing the news and then within minutes breaking down for hours, weeks, and probably will be months and years. How little we knew at the time.

Since our family has always had a strong sense of Faith, I asked to be taken to St. Albert’s to pray and invited whoever wanted to come along from the family. It was a beautiful starry night as we sat outside the rectory praying to the Blessed Virgin holding Christ in her arms after His death. I asked the Blessed Mother not to put me in the same position, to help my son and to bring him home safely and to give strength to all the other families that had been told.

My daughter then said to me, “Mom, maybe God is just giving us extra time to accept the situation about Jeff.” Our biggest fear was of his death, but we also worried that he was injured and by himself or being tortured as a hostage.

We returned home late that evening and after everyone had gone to bed I decided to check the Department of Defense’s website to understand the definition of duty status unknown whereabouts that they classified my son as.

The definition stated: (DOD) A transitory casualty status, applicable only to military personnel, that is used when the responsible commander suspects the member may be a casualty whose absence is involuntary, but does not feel sufficient evidence currently exists to make a definite determination of missing or deceased. Also called DUSTWUN.

After reading the definition I knew my son had been killed. I printed the definition for my family  to see in the morning and sat in the chair listening to the clock tick away into the early hours of morning waiting for the two marines to again come knocking at the door.

At approximately 9:00 am on Tuesday, August 2, 2005 the marines again returned telling us that Jeff had been found dead approximately 4 kilometers away from his original team. Pumping them for more information, they said his blouse (camouflage shirt) was first found with gunshot holes and they had suspected that Jeff had been dragged to a motor vehicle and taken away. His ID tags and boots were missing, probably stolen and his body now dead, had been videotaped and used as a “trophy” by the Iraqis.

The two Marines that came to our home were the most compassionate and honorable men I had ever met. They told us what they could but explained a lot was still under investigation. They offered their condolences, support, and knowledge to our family and have stayed by our sides to this day. They have advised me, counseled me and protected me. They escorted me; they have been like my guardian angels through all. Most importantly, they honored Jeff with dignity and respect from Jeff’s escort to all the Honor Guards and Pall Bearers.

It has been almost 4 years since Jeff’s death. We, as a family, have overcome this tragic and horrible atrocity that wounded us so deeply. We now look to the heavens to talk to Jeff, laugh at silly things he use to do, visit him frequently at Holy Cross, and wait for the day that we will all be united again. He was/is a very important link still to this day for us. Regardless of the pain, we continue as Jeff would of expected us to…as he did, fearlessly.