Tuesday, March 26, 2002

Soldier's legacy: Comfort for other parents

        They give directions that lead to their home and their hearts. “It's the corner house,” say Roger and Margaret Egnor. “The one with the flag at half-staff.”

        The flag outside their home in Butler County's Liberty Township honors their 32-year-old son, Jody.

        Chief Warrant Officer 2nd Class Jody Egnor died a month ago fighting the war on terrorism.

        “I lost my best friend,” Roger admitted.

        “I lost my baby,” Margaret whispered.

        Sitting side-by-side on their sofa in a living room dominated by photos of their son's smiling face, they countered their losses by counting their blessings.

        They draw comfort from their faith. It gives them the strength and solace to reminisce as well as look ahead.

        Their faith helps them plan a memorial service for Jody, set for 2 p.m. April 6 at Bethany Baptist Church, (513) 777-4276. Donations to a memorial fund established in Jody's name at First Southwestern Bank will benefit the church's youth groups and foreign missionaries.

        Rather than dwell on their son's death, Roger and Margaret remember the good times.

        “I have 32 years of happy memories with Jody,” Roger said.

        He coached Jody's baseball teams for 10 years, starting when his son was 6. Three years ago, when Jody was on leave from the Army, they put a new roof on the Liberty Township house. Every time they parted, father and son said: “I love you.”

        “Nothing can change those memories,” Roger said. “Or take them away from me.”

        The war on terrorism took Jody away from his parents. His Army Chinook helicopter caught on fire Feb. 22 during a pre-dawn, anti-terrorism mission in the Philippines.

        With the 1988 Lakota High School graduate at the controls, the burning chopper crashed into shark-infested waters and exploded on impact.

        Nine other soldiers were on board. No one survived.

        Jody left behind his wife, Janet, at their home in Woodlawn, Tenn. And his mom and dad at the corner house with the flag at half-staff.

        Margaret and Roger share their home with Robin, Jody's older sister.

        “She'll be 40 this year,” Margaret said. “She's been disabled since suffering an accident at birth.”

        The Egnors refuse to be bitter over their children's fates.

        “God never gives you more than you can bear,” Roger said.

        He remembered Robin's doctors saying she would never live to see her first birthday.

        “Look at all the years, all the memories we have had together with this beautiful girl,” Roger said. “She's a miracle.”

        Roger and Margaret know they will not be the last parents to lose a child to terrorism.

        They have been thinking about what they would do or say to comfort other parents.

        “First, I would give them a hug,” Roger said.

        “I would tell them not to give up,” Margaret added. “God's not finished with you on earth.”

        Roger would urge them “to concentrate on your memories. That will keep you going on earth so you can spend eternity with your son or daughter in heaven.

        “Remember the hugs. The kisses. The "I love yous.'”

        Margaret and Roger will remember Jody's favorite saying. When something would go wrong, he'd always say, quickly, as if it were one word and he was certain of the outcome:


        On bad days, Jody's mom and dad say that to themselves. They believe his words will come true.

        Columnist Cliff Radel can be reached at cradel@enquirer.com; 768-8379; fax 768-8340. Past columns at Enquirer.com/columns/radel


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