I received a phone call from my friend last night telling me that Mark was killed in battle in Afghanistan. There is a really beautiful tribute to him on the Michael Andrew Photography blog on the left but I wanted to put a few of my own words down. I am by no means eloquent. But I have had a few memories bouncing around my mind. mark was the brother of one of the first people I met when I went to school at Alabama. Thad and I Hung out quite a bit my first year and had a friendship from then on. Mark came around a few years later and I spent many, many days at their place. They, along with Mike and Paul were the first guys to let me practice my cooking on them at least once a month. Some recipes were great...others not as much but they let me practice anyways. I remember hing grocery shopping for Mark and Thad because I couldn't believe the food they bought.
Mark and I spent a fair amount of time becoming friends and was my foot rub buddy, my friend to bounce ideas off of and the first person to show me that they carried a hand gun in their truck. I will admit, I was a bit nervous after that one! Mark was such a wonderful young man, very caring with a good sense of humor. He lower you to just be, be who you are, sit in comfort and didn't push. However, when you got him on a topic he was passionate about, well it was fun. He and Thad would get into "fake fights" as brothers do and the atmosphere around them was just fun.
Mark and I lost contact when I moved to Missouri for grad school and through the wonders of Facebook we reconnected. I was so proud of him when I learned he entered in the military. Willing to serve the country, help make it a better place, keep our freedoms, and set an amazing example for us all. He died in combat, fighting, taking out the enemy in the process. I am so proud to know him. To have shared a part of my life with his, not matter how small. I still can't believe he's gone. My heart breaks for his family but at the same time I hope they are so proud of what he has done. I am, I thank him, my family thanks him and I hope we all will give thanks for men like Mark. Many of you know others who have served, I do too, but this is the first one that I that I knew personally who lost his life fighting for what we get to enjoy in this country. Mark, you are loved and will be missed.