Image courtesy: U.S. Army
As a first grader, Spc. Michael Stansbery wrote a letter that would serve as a blueprint for his life.
"I will go to battle and have a bunch of men with me to help. I will go to the ocean and save someone from trouble."
In June, Spc. Stansbery crossed an ocean with fellow soldiers to battle terrorists and protect the Afghan people. Even as he adjusted to extreme heat levels and asked for a care package of headbands for his fellow troops on Facebook, the 21-year-old soldier worried about children caught in the war zone.
"Playing the gunner role today and seeing the country from the high points," Stansbery posted on June 29. "It still sucks seeing kids washing themselves in the dirtiest water I've ever seen and even standing out in the open naked. Where are their parents I wonder?"
WTVF-TV reports that military service was always in the back of Stansbery's mind while growing up in Wilson County, Tennessee. A family friend told the station that the soldier's father served in Operation Desert Storm, and more family elders served in World War II. After a previous deployment to Iraq, Stansbery was still getting used to Afghanistan.
"Just bombs and gun fire going off all day and night just feels normal part of life don't really pay much attention to it."
According to the Pentagon, Spc. Stansbery was killed on Friday near Kandahar by an improvised explosive device planted by terrorists. While the Defense Department issued separate news releases, multiple reports indicate he was killed alongside Sgt. Kyle Stout, 25, of Texarkana, Texas. Both soldiers were assigned to 1st Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). As The Unknown Soldiers has previously noted, Fort Campbell, the home of the 101st, has lost many fine soldiers in Afghanistan this summer.
In the video embedded below, an emotional Michelle Stansbery talks about how much her older brother loved the military. As loved ones plan for a burial at Arlington National Cemetery, Spc. Michael Stansbery, posting on Facebook five weeks before he was killed in combat, was confident about his final destination.
"When I die I'm going to Heaven because I've spent my time in hell."