News of bin Laden's death brings no closure to family of first Washtenaw County soldier killed in post-9/11 wars
The death of the world’s most wanted terrorist brought no closure to family members of Donald McCune, the first soldier from Washtenaw County to die in conflicts that spun out of the events of 9/11.
“I don’t know if we’ll ever get closure,” McCune’s mother, Darcy Monier, said Monday, a day after a U.S. Navy SEAL team killed 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.
“It’s been almost seven years since my son was killed, and our lives have changed lot in that seven years. But it doesn’t stop us from missing him every day,” she said.
The Ann Arbor News | File photo
While Sunday’s news of bin Laden’s death didn’t bring closure, it didn’t bring satisfaction or celebration, either, said Monier, a veterinary technician who moved from Ann Arbor to Lapeer in 2007. Monier described empathy for bin Laden’s family in response to the news.
“He wasn’t a good person, but it’s still a loss,” she said.
The death may have no direct impact on McCune’s family, but the ongoing conflicts do. Monier’s husband and her son’s stepfather, Benjamin Lewis, has been a member of the armed forces for 23 years and has already served two tours in Iraq. He remains enlisted and could be re-deployed with a Michigan Army National Guard unit.
The war that killed his stepson had also brought them closer together, Sgt. Lewis said outside of the Michigan Army National Guard armory complex in Ypsilanti. Their relationship was strained — until Donnie enlisted.
They suddenly had something in common, Lewis said. Donnie told him things he kept from his mom because he don't want to worry her — like he was actually a gunner on a Humvee. In Kuwait, as Lewis left, his stepson arrived. They tried to connect, but customs threw a wrench in those plans.
Three months later, Lewis was training at Camp Grayling in Michigan when he got word that the Department of Defense had contacted his wife. There had been an accident.
Monier learned few details from those officials, other than her son had been injured. She made plans to travel to Germany. While she waited to board at Detroit Metropolitan Airport, officials from the Department of Defense tracked her down and told her the news.
Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com
McCune died, the family later learned, from internal bleeding after major trauma to the head and pelvic area.
“My son was doing what my son wanted to do when he died,” Monier said. “Had my son known what was coming, he would have gone anyway. That’s who he was.”
After McCune’s death, Lewis was deployed from 2006 to 2007 with the 1171st Area Support Medical Company, a Michigan Army National Guard medical unit. While working in support of a medical clinic in Baghdad during that tour, he got an idea that he wanted to be a goat farmer after watching a woman in Baghdad milking a goat.
He and Monier have operated a 10-acre farm in Lapeer with goats and sheep since he returned in 2007.
Doing tasks, like chores at 4 a.m. “keeps me out of trouble,” he said.
Saddam Hussein's December 2006 execution didn't end operations in Iraq, the couple pointed out. Neither Monier nor Lewis think bin Laden’s death will impact Operation New Dawn in Iraq or Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
Lewis, who declined to share his feelings on the ongoing conflicts but spoke highly of the Iraqi people, said he is ready to go to Iraq again, at any time, like his stepson.