Mark and me after seeing Restrepo
Several weeks ago 1SG Mark Patterson's mom, Carol, contacted me about the possibility of having Restrepo opened in a local theater when Mark came home for R & R. It seemed like a long shot but definitely worth a try. MANY thanks to National Geographic, Sebastian Junger and Laura Kim for making it happen!
For those of you who have seen Restrepo and may not remember who 1SG Patterson is (well, first of all he was SFC Patterson in the film) he's probably best remembered, God bless him, for being visited by the owner of the cow the just happened to get caught up in the concertina wire and had to be killed. Of course that meant it had to be eaten. 1SG Patterson was actually featured in many more important scenes in the film but even he admitted tonight that he'll forever be remembered for the cow.
You may also remember 1SG Patterson from this post when he declared me a LOSER! (That's for you, Angela)
Carol, Mark and the rest of their immediate and extended family as well as friends were there in force tonight. I counted close to 70 people in the theater not long before the film started. WELL DONE Carol for getting the word out. It was so nice to finally meet you, your family and friends - especially "the hens."
I even got to meet two more great troop supporters, Mary and Vickie, who want to help out supporting deployed troops from other units when Mark's deployment is over. BONUS!
Carol (Mark's mom) and Mark at the theater
After the film was over Mark, literally, popped up out of his seat, turned to face the crowd and asked if anyone had any questions. There were many and he fielded them like a pro. He was articulate, engaging, very informative and quite entertaining at times.
Mark during the question and answer session
More questions and answers
Questions and answers continued
Late into the night I remembered a discussion that I had with Sebastian Junger when he was in Memphis for a book signing for "WAR". We were talking about how knowing these Paratroopers had impacted our lives. Sebastian told me that after being at OP Restrepo with those men for so long he found himself much more emotional - even getting misty eyed at weddings which is something he'd never experienced before. He said that witnessing and, to some extent, being a part of the bond they had was life changing. I told him that I had learned the absolute meaning of unconditional love from these men. He thought for a moment and agreed with me. He actually said, "I've never thought about it but you are right."
Tonight, once again, I felt that unconditional love. So many Paratroopers and family members of the 173rd, 2-503 have embraced me with that unconditional love over the past few years. It is impossible to explain it and a treasure to feel it. I am, without question, one of the luckiest women on this planet and so very grateful to all of them.
I want to thank Carol, Mark and all of the Patterson's for allowing me to share this special night. Mark, enjoy your R & R. I hope you get in lots of rounds of golf and that your mom keeps your tummy filled with her great home cooking.
P. S. Angela, message delivered! Oh, and he did ask for more of MY brownies. Andi, message delivered!