John Nickerson, Published 10:10 p.m. Stamford
Advocate, Saturday, May 26, 2012
STAMFORD -- Patricia Parry always knew her son's job
A member of the elite U.S. Navy SEAL Team Six unit, Parry's son
Chief Petty Officer Brian Bill was frequently deployed on combat
missions in Iraq and Afghanistan as part of the post Sept. 11, 2001
global war on terror.
Bill was killed along with 29 other Americans and eight Afghan
commandos when the double-rotor Chinook helicopter taking them into a
hot combat zone to reinforce coalition troops was hit by a Taliban
fighter's rocket-propelled grenade. The Aug. 6 crash was the single
deadliest day for American forces in Afghanistan since the war began
Bill was 31.
Many Americans will pause this Memorial Day weekend to reflect on
the sacrifices soldiers and sailors like Bill have made -- a daily
remembrance for Parry and her husband Dr. Michael Parry.
On this first Memorial Day since Bill's death, the Parry's are
attending ceremonies honoring their son and continuing to build a
legacy for others to remember him.
"It is about remembering and honoring those who served and those who
continue to serve," said Patricia Parry during an interview in their
Westover home earlier this month. "People should thank everyone in the
military for everything they do. They give up a lot for us and I don't
think that is something that people think about very much,"
Most of all, Parry said Memorial Day is more than a day for a
Years before he was killed, Bill spoke to his mother about strength.
Showing her the book, "The Gates of Fire," about the Battle of
Thermopylae, Bill paged to the end of the historical novel.
There, Sparta's King Leonidas explained to a widow of the campaign
how he chose 300 of his countrymen to help block an advancing Persian
army from crossing the Thermopylae Pass. Leonidas told the woman that
he chose the men because of the strength of their women.
"He read that to me five years ago, and I think he was sending a
message," she said, before taking a moment to compose herself.
Parry said over the past 10 months she has been trying to measure up
to what her son expected of her at this time. It is hard for anyone to
understand what it is like until they lose someone; before she lost her
son, she said she did not fully understand.
She says she cries sometimes, but she doesn't feel bad when it
happens. "I feel it is perfectly normal and I'd worry about myself if I
did not," she says.
But talking about her son is not something she wants to or will shy
away from, she said.
"It is interesting that because of the circumstances surrounding
Brian's death we are able to talk about it and we feel good when we get
to talk about Brian every day," she said.
Although after a certain time society expects grieving people to
"move on," Patricia Parry questioned what that means.
"Where am I going? That fact that you don't talk about something
doesn't mean that you don't think about it every day," she said. "And
sometimes talking about it, not for everyone, is very helpful. It makes
you feel that the person you have lost is still with you. That is very
true for me."
In the months since Bill's death, the Parrys, along with Bill's
older brother, Christian Bill, and sister Amy Kutney have been healing
while also working to share their memories and build a legacy.
"What I want people to know is how much their support has meant to
us. We want to celebrate Brian's life all the time. He will always be
with us and we want people to know that they don't have to be afraid,"
Patricia Parry said. "I think people are never sure what to say."
The family is getting ready to launch a non-profit organization in
their son's name that will help the children of SEALs who have been
killed in action by providing a way for them to participate in rugged
outdoor activities that their fathers would have encouraged.