Dozens of Father's days; Decades of Grief

 

by Walter Brasch

 

Christopher Kenneth Frison is seven months old.

He's too young to understand Father's Day.

And he's certainly far too young to be able to get an allowance or a job to buy a card and a nice gift.

He isn't too young to be able to hug his father.

But he won't ever be able to do that again. Not today. Not next year. Not ever.

His father, 1st Lt. Demetrius M. Frison, a parachutist and infantry officer, was killed in Khost province, Afghanistan, May 10. He was 26 years old.

His widow, Mikki, told the Lancaster New Era that she and Demetrius first met in Middle School in Philadelphia, attended different high schools, and then went to Millersville University in 2003. Both graduated with degrees in psychology. They married in March 2009, a month before he joined the Army. Christopher was born November 17, 2010. At that time, Frison, who had trained at Fort Benning, Ga., was stationed at Fort Knox, Ky.

The last time Frison saw his son was shortly before his first deployment to Afghanistan in January. Four months later, he was dead.

Christopher Kenneth Frison isn't the only one who won't be able to celebrate Father's Day. There are thousands, a few who never had a chance to meet their fathers, many who are now young adults.

1st Lt. Demetrius M. Frison is one of 264 Pennsylvanians, one of 6,082 American troops killed in what are now America's longest wars. In Afghanistan and Iraq, 54,609 Americans have been wounded, thousands who have permanent physical injuries, all of whom are likely to develop levels of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The Department of Defense estimates that 78,000 soldiers have developed PTSD in the past decade; the Veterans Administration believes the number is closer to 800,000. Those numbers don't even include the soldiers who served in dozens of wars and military actions since World War II.

 1st Lt. Frison, who had earned four service ribbons in his two years in the Army, received three more in May. The Army posthumously awarded him the NATO, Bronze Star, and Purple Heart medals.  But not one medal is worth the life of a soldier who never saw his first Father's Day with his son, nor the son who will have dozens of them without his father.

          

          [Contributing were Rosemary R. Brasch, the Fort Knox public affairs office, the Philadelphia Tribune, and the Lancaster Intelligencer-Journal.]

 

 

 

 

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