“I still think I’m going to wake up from it and its going to be a bad dream.”
For Betsy Strange, what she wishes was only a dream is instead a painful reality.
Her 25-year-old son, Petty Officer 1st Class Michael Strange, was part of a rescue team in Afghanistan composed of Navy SEALs and other troops. The team had just completed their mission of helping a U.S. Army unit that was under fire from insurgents last Saturday.
As they departed from their mission in their Chinook helicopter, the aircraft was hit and shot down by Taliban insurgents.
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Michael, along with 29 Americans and 8 Afghans were killed in the attack. It was the single deadliest loss for U.S. forces in the war in Afghanistan.
On Wednesday, Michael’s grieving family spoke to NBC10 at their Philadelphia home about how their coping with the tragic loss.
“I had it in my head that he was safe, he was going to be safe and he was going to be alright,” said Michael’s mom Betsy. “It really blindsided me.”
Betsy got the chance to speak with President Obama on Tuesday at the Dover Air Force Base where officials accepted the remains of the slain U.S. troops.
“He asked if there was anything he could do and the only thing he could do is bring my son back in one piece and that’s not possible,” said Betsy. “He hugged me and it was personable. I’m sure he feels pain.”
The Strange family felt mixed emotions when they learned that an air strike killed the same Taliban insurgents responsible for Michael’s death on Tuesday.
“You hear it and you feel good,” said Michael’s brother Charles. “But they’re dead and my brother’s dead. Nothing is different.”
Now all the family can do is remember the times that they shared with the fallen hero.
“I love Michael and I miss him,” said Michael’s sister Katelyn, who Michael was working to put through nursing school. “He’s my hero.”
In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that any donations go to Neads, an organization that Michael supported which trains assistance dogs for disabled Americans.