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PFCs Fairbairn and Casillas: The Newest Faces of Freedom

PFC Justin Casillas

PFC Justin Casillas

On July 4th, 2009, the families of PFC Aaron Fairbairn and PFC Justin Casillas were notified by soldiers in dress uniforms representing the United States Army, that their loved ones had been killed in Afghanistan.

PFC Aaron Fairbairn:  The Newest Face of Freedom

PFC Aaron Fairbairn

It’s a holiday where most of us barbeque, drink, watch fireworks and celebrate our country’s independence.  With the war going on, it was nice to see how many people were supportive of me and my family, thankful for what we do for our country.

But now, every year, these two families will think of how their son, brother, husband or father died.  The 4th of July will no longer be barbeques, drinking, and watching fireworks, but it will be a holiday of personal sacrifice and mourning.

It makes me think of that episode from MASH where Hawkeye fights to keep a kid alive until December 26th so a soldier’s family doesn’t think of Christmas as the day their son died.  Since I was a kid, that episode has always stuck with me.  I didn’t understand it until I was in the military, but today, it is underscored.

PV2 James Gafney circa 1989

PV2 James Gafney circa 1989

PFC Aaron Fairbairn reminds me of what I used to be like as a private; on the inside, tough as nails, a killer, ready to eat the enemy’s guts and eat their brains for desert.  It’s what we were trained to do and how we are trained to be.  “Kill people and break shit” is what we used to say.  But on the outside, I was a goofy kid that was worried about the next beer I was going to drink and which girl I was going to drink it with.

Aaron also makes me think of my son, 19, and in the Marine Corps.  He is no different.  Ready to kill, eager to go to war, and driven by thoughts of battle and coming home a hero, but he is the same; cars, girls, and beer.

PVT Greyson Dean-Poirier 2009

PVT Greyson Dean-Poirier 2009

Push-ups, pussy and parties; the life of killers, defenders of freedom.

I don’t know PFC Fairbairn or PFC Casillas, but I bet they were the same.

On the 4th of July, we have faceless visions of soldiers making sacrifices, but now, Independence Day has a face.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. 2009/09/11 04:46

    justins mom has been my friend since i was 14 i meet justin when he was 1 years old.. i miss him so much he was a beautiful baby outgoing kid and a brave man,soldier and hero. i love u justin and thank u to all our troops for keeping my babys safe while we sleep i keep u in my prayers and in my thoughts sissy nicoe

  2. 2009/07/18 02:46

    Your post has connected me to your wife on Facebook. My friend Chuck is the father of Justin Casillas, who was also killed in his attack. I am a changed person from the events of the last few weeks from the phone call I received early the morning of July 4th, to the moment of Justin’s interment just yesterday. Thank you for your service. Thank you for telling the story, and thank you for your support.


  3. dixiedollbaby permalink
    2009/07/12 18:20

    I also thought of that M*A*S*H episode when news came of these kids’ deaths. I related the holiday with their deaths just as you did, and prayed for those families in earnest. I can only pray that Independence Day means exactly what it should mean in every American’s heart. So many died in the creation of the original context of the holiday.

    I believe that Independence Day will now have a face — faces — every year for many of us. I expect that those faces will be on signs at 4th of July parades and festivities every year…everywhere. Regardless of the day or hour of their death, all of our KIA should be remembered on this day, for they all were fighting for independence…somewhere.

    They will not be forgotten.

  4. Chelsie Fairbairn permalink
    2009/07/07 03:38

    This is the best article Ive read so far. Aaron was a true soldier, a best friend, and a cousin. He will never be forgotten. He was loved by so many people. The hurt/tears will soon, not be as hard. But he will always be remembered.
    I love you Aaron =*[

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