Memorial event raised funds for EOD Warrior Foundation
By Holly Neumann
Friends and family members of Senior Chief Petty Officer Patrick Wade gathered Monday, July 17 to honor the fallen soldier and do push-ups to help raise funds for a cause now close to their hearts.
This year marks the 10-year anniversary of when Wade, a Manawa native, was killed in action while serving in Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“Pat used to always say he wanted to be a hero,” said Craig Maness, who once served along side Wade. “Now he is, and he paid the ultimate sacrifice.”
Both men served as Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Technicians.
“It’s a dangerous job,” Maness said. “And we both volunteered to do it.”
Their job was to render safe all the Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) before there were any causalities.
“This is an emotional day for me,” he said as his eyes filled with tears. “Pat loved his family, he loved what he was doing, and he loved this country. When he went over to Iraq, I was always emailing him, reminding him to stay safe.”
Wade’s brother got emotional as well when he talked about what happened that day.
“While they were trying to detonate some bombs that that found in a culvert under the road, they exploded,” said Gary Wade. “There is not a day that goes by that I do not think about him and the sacrifice he made.”
Keri Wade also recalled the day of her husband’s passing.
“We were on a family vacation on a boat in California,” she recalled. “I remember waking up that morning and nursing our baby, when the phone rang.”
She announced to their daughters, Esme who was just 10 months old, and Noelle, 3, that their father was calling to see how his girls were doing on their first boat trip.
Missing the call, she began to listen to several messages that had been left on her phone.
“The neighbor had called telling me that there were several Navy men at our house,” said Keri. “But there was also a message from Patrick’s commanding officer, telling me to give him a call.”
That officer informed her Patrick had been killed.
“I don’t remember much after that,” she said. “I do know that it was a blessing that I was with my family at that time, because for 24 hours, I was in a safe little bubble. Otherwise, I would have been home alone, with my two little girls, in a town where we had just moved and I did not know anybody.”
She talked about her daughters, who were both young at the time of their father’s death.
“Its heart-wrenching when I hear Esme say things like ‘My eyes must have been closed the whole time I was a baby, because I cannot picture daddy in my mind,’” said Keri. “Or when they say they wish they had a daddy. They definitely mourn his absence.”
In those moments, Keri pulls out pictures to remind the girls their father had a lot of interaction with both of them.
“They were so young, they just don’t remember,” she said. “I tell them they do have a daddy and he loved them very much.”
Keri still has moments where things get hard for her as well.
“I have times when I am crying and when I wish Patrick was with us,” she said. “That it why coming together for events like this is so healing for me. I get strength from this, and I love hearing the stories from the people that knew him. Coming to Manawa and being embraced by the community feels amazing.”
Keri has also found comfort from the EOD Warrior Foundation, which will benefit from the event’s proceeds.
According to its website, the EOD Warrior Foundation serves the EOD community by providing financial assistance and support to active-duty and wounded, injured or ill EOD warriors, families of wounded and fallen EOD warriors and by maintaining the EOD Memorial.
“This is a great foundation,” Keri said. “They are doing the best to make sure people don’t feel alone or suffer alone. It is a place where families and survivors can turn to for help.”
“I believe in the EOD mission and what the Warrior Foundation does,” he said. “This is not only important to me, but it is also comforting knowing that there was somebody there, an organization, to help Keri and the girls.”
On Monday, family and friends gathered together at the beginning of the Pat Wade Memorial Trail to do push-ups to not only honor Wade, but also to raise awareness to the cause.
“Pat was known as the PT (Physical Training) God,” laughed Maness. “He would have wanted us to be doing push-ups today.”
“The pushups were because he was so very active,” she said. “This is just a way of doing something he would have done.”
Both of them believe Patrick was watching over them on that day.
“Ever since his death, I have been finding black feathers all around,” said Maness. “So, I looked it up to see what it meant. It is normally a sign from someone who has passed, letting you know they are okay.”
Monday was no different.
Maness found a feather on the trail head bench.
“There it was. A feather sticking out of the bench,” he said. “Pat was definitely here with us.”
Keri also felt his presence.
“Pat is definitely watching over us,” she said. “I cannot imagine him doing anything else today.”
Those who want to donate to the EOD Warrior Foundation may visit www.eodwarriorfoundation.org to do so.