After serving in the Air Force for four years, Lieutenant William “Billy” Scott Warren sensed a calling from God to serve as a chaplain for the United States Army. He was on his way to becoming a chaplain for the Army Reserves when tragedy struck.
During training at Fort Jackson in South Carolina, Lt. Warren was involved in an accident that required 11 surgeries throughout two years. The 12th surgery claimed his life in 2013. He was 42 years old and left behind two young sons.
Keifer Christian Huhman was 17 when he joined the United States Air Force. After just four years of service, he achieved the rank of Senior Airman and was part of the 436th Communications Squadron at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. While on his way to report for duty one day, Huhman was hit by an oncoming semi truck and thrown off a bridge into the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal. Huhman was missing for 49 days until his body was finally found.
These are just some of the heartbreaking stories shared by those who attended the Gold Star Families Breakfast at the Billy Graham Library in mid-July.
At 8 a.m., relatives of fallen servicemen and women walked through the foot of the cross and into the Library to be honored as Gold Star families with a morning of fellowship and encouragement. A Gold Star family member is someone who has lost a loved one in military service or in support of certain military operations.
Vice President of the Billy Graham Library, Tom Phillips, explained what an honor it is to host an event that recognizes and encourages families that have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country.
“These men and women have given the ultimate sacrifice and this breakfast today is to honor their families in an environment that is Jesus’ environment,” Phillips said. “It is nothing but an honor to represent the sacrifice of these people which reflects the sacrifice of Christ.”
Along with a complimentary hot breakfast and the chance to walk through the Journey of Faith tour, Gold Star families got to hear a message of appreciation from Pastor Pat Fleming, who leads follow-up care for Operation Heal Our Patriots, a ministry of Samaritan’s Purse.
“I know you didn’t choose to be a Gold Star family. I know that the honor of that little star some of you have been given is awesome. But it doesn’t replace your loved one,” Fleming told the families.
“I want you to know that in the midst of trying to deal with it, in the midst of your anger, in the midst of your denial—hoping that he’s just going to walk around the corner or that she’ll be there—in the midst of working through to forgiveness and acceptance, God is there with you and will bring you the comfort that you need.”
After the message, family members commemorated their fallen loved ones in front of the audience by stating their name, branch of service and their own relationship to the fallen hero. Men and women from the U.S. Navy, Army, Air Force and many more were represented.
Huhman’s mother, Darlene Norman, attended the event because it’s helpful for her to be around people who understand and care about her family’s story.
“I have this loneliness, this grief and this sadness that I cannot get through but by the grace of God, so I’m constantly giving it all to him,” she said.
“It all goes back to trusting God, and even though I can’t see the finished product and I can’t see the end of the tunnel, I know that He is in the tunnel with me. I’m glad that Keifer was in the military because they have programs like this to remember my son.”