BAYTOWN, Texas -- As the clock ticks down on a pullout from Afghanistan, we sometimes lose sight of the fact that U.S. servicemen and women continue to die in what has become the longest war in the nation’s history.
“Supposedly the war was supposed to be over,” said Alan Vasquez. “But we’re still losing people left and right.”
Vasquez’s childhood friend is among the most recent to be lost. Army Specialist Keith Grace died August 11 when enemy forces attacked his unit. It was the 26-year-old’s first tour, and he had only been in country since April.
“He didn’t have a girlfriend or anything, but the army was his girl,” said best friend Garland Davis. “He fell in love with it. He really did.”
Grace overcame great adversity to get where he was. At age 12, when his adoptive mother passed away, it was his friends who became family, one of them ultimately taking him in.
“He never called my mother and father by their name,” Davis said. “It was mom and dad, and he stayed with us. He was always my brother. I could say he’s my best friend, but realistically he’s my brother.”
“His friends were his family,” Vasquez said. “We were his family. We were his brothers.”
Just when it seemed Grace had found his place in life, his life was snatched away.
“He never gave up,” Davis said. “You could knock him down seven times and he’d get up eight. That’s just who he was.”
And that’s how his friends would like to see him remembered.
“In the end, we all know the real family, who we are and he’s got a lot of family backing him up right now,” Davis said.
Grace’s body has already arrived at Dover Air Force Base. There’s no word yet on when he’ll be coming home to his final resting place in Baytown.