“I was 6 when it happened. I was pulled out of school and there were a ton of people in the car and at the house. I didn’t know what was happening and people kept patting me on the back. I didn’t know what was going on. Everyone kept saying ‘I’m sorry for your loss.’ My mom and grandparents took me in a room and told me that my dad died in a helicopter crash.
“I’m 9 now. My memories of my dad are fading, but I remember he loved to play with me. He was the one who wrestled with me and played legos. I don’t like to watch videos where I hear his voice because it just makes me feel bad, but I do like to hear stories from my grandparents and my dad’s friends – especially funny stories. I want people to remember him. I want them to remember his personality.
“I’m telling my story because I want people to know what I’ve been through and what kids who lose a parent go through. I didn’t like everyone telling me I’m sorry for your loss. But some of our friends came over and took me to the beach to play the day after it happened and that was good. I didn’t want to sit at home with everyone crying. I also want other kids to know how much we’ve been through. One day, I wore my dad’s hat to school and a kid took it off of me and was teasing me. I told him that it was my dad’s and to give it back, and he said, ‘I thought you didn’t have a dad.’
“I miss my dad every day. But if he wouldn’t have died, I would just be another face in the crowd. I wouldn’t have done anything special. I got to go on Air Force Two, I’ve been to special camps, and I get to do things with the Travis Manion Foundation. For other kids going through this, I would tell them: It won’t be so bad in the future. You never stop missing him. But just keep going.”
This Father’s Day, this little guy is asking that you make a donation to the Travis Manion foundation in his dad’s name, Landon Jones. To donate, visit: https://donate.travismanion.org/checkout/donation?eid=134356
At the family’s request, all funds raised through that link will be earmarked for the Character Does Matter program through the Travis Manion Foundation.
Picture taken by the Berkeley College Veterans and Gold Star Reflections project and used with the family’s permission.