Veterans’ Day is a time to remember all veterans, especially those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
A soldier from Clearfield County was killed in Iraq in 2004. We have more on how his family is still remembering him every day.
“From the time he was young, he always said he was going to go into the Army,” says mother Sharon Kritzer.
And Bradley Kritzer fulfilled his promise. Soon after high school graduation, Brad left for Army training on July 4, 2003. The next March, he was deployed to Baghdad.
“My sister gave him this,” says Sharon Kritzer, showing a small metal cross, one of the trinkets people gave him, wishing for his safe return. But, it was not to be.
“He was on a mission at night about 11:00 at night and their Humvee was hit by an IED, and then small gunfire, and that’s how he died that night, him and another soldier,” says Kritzer.
Things that Brad was wearing that night were returned to her.
“Actually, one of the soldiers carried that in his pocket for a year till he got to meet me in person, then gave it back to me,” says Kritzer.
Over the past 12 years, his dad has been adding on to this small memorial near their home, recognizing this as “Brad’s Hill.”
“He’s buried down at Arlington,” says Kritzer.
She says her son loved to hunt for deer and turkey up on this hill, and when she sees turkey running there now, she thinks back to those times.
“A part of you changes forever. It’s like a new journey you start in life and you try to get through each day, and as you go, it’s not as hard,” says Kritzer.
Her grief is shared with other parents she’s met from places like Punxsutawney, and Williamsburg, Blair County.
“We’ve gotten to know a lot of the parents and we help each other and you need that,” says Kritzer.
Brad is also part of a memorial at Grandview Cemetery in Altoona, representing the Iraq war.
“We went there to help those people and I think we did a lot. Our son’s commanding officer actually wrote a book about the year they were there,” says Kritzer.
Kritzer says she is friends on Facebook with 16 soldiers from Brad’s unit and has met some of them at Fort Hood. Many have moved on from the Army. Here in her basement, time has stood still.
“I think anytime anybody loses a child — Brad was only 19 — you think about them every day,” says Kritzer.