12 APR 2017
It was tough for a man who was so prideful, strong and accustomed to conquering all comers and all things in life. A champion wrestler, a cowboy and steely eyed soldier….what could bring him down? After all, his fellow soldiers nicknamed him ‘Delta Derr’.
Colton broke his constrained silence. “Dad, I don't know why I feel the way I do, I’m trying to control it - but I’m having a hard time.” His head down, his strong hand firmly grasping the back of his neck; we were ready for the heart to heart talk. I was relentless in just being near him until he tapped out, until he opened up.
As a father, more than anything in life, you want to protect your children. I was fortunate that Colton would confide in me about his demons and internal battles. We made a plan: when he got back to Fort Drum, he would deal (treatment) with his PTSD and suffocating depression.
Colton was a wanderlust who loved the open road and the opportunities he may find over the next horizon. He was gathering his gear, as this part of his “coming home” journey was coming to an end. Before making his drive back to Fort Drum; he was getting ready to make his trek to Texas to see his 1st CAV brothers at Fort Hood.
Colton was saying all the right things about future plans after the military. During his Texas trip he was going to look for land to buy - land to raise his own horses on. He intended to enroll in college down there and finish out his criminal justice degree. He had even reached out to his younger brother Wyatt; in hopes that he would join him on his new adventure.
So, why was I still uneasy and restless when he left home on that warm evening of 12 APR 2012? After all, we made a pact to beat this demon.
This is the last picture I took of Colton. I held him and did not want to let him go. I kissed him, told him I loved him and said goodbye.
Colton’s journey continues….