By Molly Hayden, U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwoehr Public Affairs May 29, 2013
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany -- Staff Sgt. Derek Farley understood the risks of working in Explosive Ordnance Disposal. Even after he was injured while disarming an IED during his first deployment to Iraq in 2007, his commitment never wavered.
As his second deployment neared, this time to Afghanistan, Farley e-mailed his mother Carrie, explaining his commitment in detail.
"I love what I am doing in life and my job is my life," he wrote. "If something were to happen to me, just remember I do the most dangerous job because it has the most rewarding payoff."
Eleven months after those words graced Carrie's computer screen, Farley was killed doing what he loved in Bala Boluk, Farah, Afghanistan, when an IED exploded. It was Aug. 17, 2010, and Farley was two weeks shy of returning home to Grafenwoehr.
"I can see why he loved it here," Carrie said during a visit to U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwoehr, May 23. "Being here brings me closer to him."
Farley never made it back to Germany. Instead Carrie, along with Farley's brother, Dylan, traveled 5,000 miles from New York in his honor.
Carrie and Dylan toured the post and attended the Grafenwoehr Community Memorial Day celebration. Joined by Col. James Saenz, commander of the U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwoehr, and Col. Bryan Rudacille, commander of the 7th U.S. Army Joint Multinational Training Command, Carrie laid a wreath for all Soldiers who gave the ultimate sacrifice. She felt honored to be a part of the garrison community.
"This was Derek's home," she said. "I'm able to see that life through his eyes."
After only a year, Farley's life in Grafenwoehr was brimming with achievements. He trained with the 702nd Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company, earning his certification as a team leader all while falling in love with a young German woman named Maria Moebius.
His mother described him as a passionate young Soldier who was continually inspired by his life's work.
"When you raise a child and put them into the world, you want them to find something they love doing, something they are passionate about," said Carrie. "Derek was very fortunate. EOD is what made his heart pump and how lucky he was to have found that at such a young age."
"It was a very honorable thing," she added.
While entering the life of EOD seemed intuitive for Farley, for Carrie, healing from the death of her eldest son simply wasn't.
"I was very lost in my grief," she said. "I just didn't know which way to turn."
Carrie soon contacted her local American Gold Star Mother, Inc. chapter and allowed the healing process to begin.
"I met another Gold Star mom that gave me permission to grieve as I needed," said Carrie. "She gave me permission to cry."
Now president of her local chapter, she continues to heal by celebrating Farley's life rather than mourning his death.
"I acknowledge that he was on this earth -- that he was somebody," said Carrie. "He believed in this country, he believed in his job."
Carrie continues to have a relationship with Moebius, and connected with many of Farley's comrades during her visit -- aiding in their healing, as well.
For Carrie, it's all part of the process.
"War is not pretty, but Derek believed in what he was doing," she said. "And we all believed in him."