Gold Star Mothers share bond of sacrifice by sons in recent wars

One year since U.S. pulled out of Afghanistan brings mixed emotions

SAN ANTONIOGold Star Mothers Marcy Voss and Ruth Holler are bonded by the sacrifices of their sons in Iraq and Afghanistan, wars in which the U.S. ended long, complicated military involvements.

As Tuesday marked the first anniversary of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, Voss said, “It caused me to question the value of my son’s death.”

Her son, Captain Mark Tyler Voss, was the co-pilot of a U.S. Air Force Stratotanker, which broke apart and crashed in May 2013 shortly after taking off from Kyrgyzstan. It was on a refueling mission to Afghanistan.

However, his mother said what she questioned were the circumstances of the crash, not the sacrifices made by her son and his crew.

“We focus on their bravery, their heroism, and the love that they displayed,” Voss said.

Like Voss, the mother of Lance Corporal Luke Holler said she has “very mixed emotions” about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

An IED killed Holler’s son in 2006 as his team was leaving in a Humvee following a firefight.

Ruth Holler said her son and many others went to war willingly, fully aware of the risks.

Looking back, Holler said, as far as the war itself, “Whatever happened or the way it was done, could have been done better, differently, but it was done.”

Even so, Holler said, “Their sacrifice is still honorable.”

Both Voss and Holler said Gold Star Mothers allowed them to help themselves by helping others.

Voss said it’s become her ministry.

“The lesson for me is the value of coming alongside and supporting others who have lost their loved ones in military service,” Voss said.

Holler said Gold Star Mothers often say, “You know, I’m sorry we’re friends, and yet I’m happy we’re friends.”

About the Authors

Jessie Degollado has been with KSAT since 1984. She is a general assignments reporter who covers a wide variety of stories. Raised in Laredo and as an anchor/reporter at KRGV in the Rio Grande Valley, Jessie is especially familiar with border and immigration issues. In 2007, Jessie also was inducted into the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame.

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