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Fort Rucker community honors survivors of fallen service members

Chaplain (Capt.) Troy Allan, Fort Rucker Family Life chaplain, delivers a sermon during the Gold Star Service at the main post chapel Sept. 28. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)

Chaplain (Capt.) Troy Allan, Fort Rucker Family Life chaplain, delivers a sermon during the Gold Star Service at the main post chapel Sept. 28. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)

Published: October 3, 2014

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (October 3, 2014) -- Fort Rucker and its community members came together at the main post chapel Sept. 28 to honor Families who have lost loved ones in service to the nation.

The Gold Star Service was held to recognize mothers and Family members who have lost loved ones in service to the country, and to remind them that they are not and will not be forgotten, said Chaplain (Capt.) Troy Allan, Fort Rucker Family Life chaplain.

Luminaries were lit during the ceremony in honor of those lost and Allan delivered a sermon to highlight what it means to be remembered.

“Tonight is one of the most important messages I will deliver in the next year because it means so much to me,” said Allan during the service. “Tonight we honor and celebrate you and your Family members, and we have invited you here in hopes that your story will be strengthened, that healing will continue and that your lives will continue to be blessed.

“Each of you has looked tragedy in the face,” he continued. “You have walked in the valley of the shadow of death, and yours is a story that is prevalent in the world in which you live – we live in difficult times.”

Jennifer Hobdy, Gold Star Family member, is one Family member who experienced that loss when she lost her husband, Staff Sgt. Jared Hobdy, more than 20 years ago, but said she finds solace that her husband’s sacrifice isn’t forgotten.

“It makes me feel so wonderful that Fort Rucker and the Army takes time to recognize Gold Star Families,” she said. “The service made me feel like even though I’ve lost my husband, (the Army) hasn’t forgotten about me. And that makes me feel good.”

Hobdy said that remembering those who were lost is important not only for the Soldiers who sacrificed, but for the Families that must go on without their loved one.

“Don’t forget about us,” she asked. “Just because our (loved one) has passed, don’t forget about the wives and the Family members, because we still need love sometimes,” adding that the love people give, and the power of God and prayer helps her get through the tough times.

It’s those tough times that test and strengthen people, said Allan, and the challenge is knowing how to embrace life and radiate happiness when encompassed in that tragedy.

“In discovering that answer, I think you need to look briefly at both tragedy and joy,” said the chaplain. “Our journey often embraces tragedy when we are sent into the valley of the shadow of death despite our protest.”

Allan said he saw the answer in one of the simplest sights. He told of how one day he and his Family were hurrying to go somewhere, and as they were rushing out the door he noticed his son stopped to look upon a flowering plant and took a deep breath.

“He took time to stop and smell the flowers in our busy life,” he said. “His example to me is brilliant. He probably didn’t know it, but it showed me that we are made to enjoy everything around us.”

Allan knows firsthand what it feels like to lose someone close, and he shared his story of how he lost a close friend while deployed overseas and how he coped with the devastation.

While on his first deployment to Afghanistan, Allan said he bonded very quickly with a Soldier he met while overseas.

“We really shared a lot and we helped each other a lot,” he said. “But one day, my friend went on a mission and he didn’t come back. I will never forget the anger and the frustration I had.”

Allan said he was frustrated and angry that his friend was taken from him and that his friend was taken from his Family. But through that tragedy, a lesson was learned.

“Every friendship that I now have I hold tight,” said the chaplain. “I think about how a friend could walk out that door tonight and never come back, so now I never let a friend go out the door without telling them how special they are to me. That’s what it’s all about – finding joy in ourselves.”

This article was originally published at

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