Loss of husband spurs her desire to help
Maggie Osborn of Delano lost her hero when her husband Sgt. Kyle Osborn, a 26-year-old Army Ranger, was killed in action in Afghanistan on Sept. 13, and in the process has found a purpose for her future life — helping American military personnel and their families.
Osborn, who is the daughter of Tom and Kay Klason of Delano, has returned from Camp Ederle, Italy, where she helped in welcoming back the 173rd Airborne Division — Sgt. Kyle’s unit — as it returned early from Afghanistan. But she did more than provide a welcome and emotional support. She was part of a nationwide effort to make sure that the soldiers did not come home to an empty barracks.
Maggie told the story of herself, Sgt. Kyle and the 173rd Airborne Division in letters and e-mails. Sgt. Kyle “was a sniper platoon leader… Kyle was on a dangerous mission protecting a school full of children and protecting us from those who wish to bring us harm.”
She added, “He gave his life doing what he loved, and his memory will be carried on through the work that I want to do with soldiers and through the scholarship foundation I am beginning.”
“Kyle was born and raised in Lafayette Indiana,” she said. “We met at Minnesota State University, Mankato… He completed two years, majoring in engineering with a wrestling scholarship before enlisting in the Army. I supported his decision to join, but remained behind to finish my undergraduate work. We were married on Oct. 16, 2010, and enjoyed our first adventure at Fort Polk, La.”
She continued, “After completing Ranger, Jumpmaster, and Sniper school, we chose our next duty station, Caserma Ederle, Italy, arriving in January 2012. Before his deployment we took advantage of our local culture and traveled around Europe. I will continue to travel back to Italy to visit our friends, many who have become my family. This place will always hold dear memories for me of my fallen hero.”
After Sgt. Kyle lost his life, a firing range was named in his memory in Afghanistan. Then it was time for his unit, the 173rd Airborne to come home.
“I was invited back to Italy, to Camp Ederle, to welcome home Kyle’s platoon,” Maggie said. “I was invited there to greet, and give comfort and emotional support to brave young men who served and fought by Kyle’s side in Afghanistan.”
She conducted another mission at the same time. “We are fortunate to have the troops home early, their missions completed successfully,” she said. “Unfortunately, because they have come home early, the contractor for their personal belongings that were put in storage while they were deployed in battle will not release those belongings.”
Maggie continued, “Because of this, the soldiers are returning to their home base in Italy with nothing but what they had with them in Afghanistan. They are literally returning to empty barracks rooms. All their personal effects are still in storage, so they, literally, have nothing. All they have been provided with is a cot to sleep on, and that doesn’t even have bedding.”
She took on a mission “to assist in getting these young soldiers, who have fought so valiantly for us, supplies of simple comfort.”
Maggie sent bedding supplies on her own and asked for help from the Delano community. “This is a community service project that I have done with help of family and friends and my contacts in Italy,” she said.
She placed monetary donation cans around Delano “in hopes of connecting my new community with my Army community back in Italy.” Locations included Dave’s Town Club, the Delano American Legion, Light of Christ Lutheran Church, Delano United Methodist Church and the Crow River Coffee Company.
“The donations have been overwhelming,” Maggie said. “Light of Christ Lutheran Church, where my parents are members, has shown tremendous support. An official count has not been made but will be more than enough to help out a large number of these soldiers and continue to support them through their re-integration back on post.”
Meanwhile, in Italy, volunteers were able to keep up with needs of returning troops, because they did not arrive all at once.
“There have been waves of troops coming home at different times,” Maggie said. “For safety reasons there are limited sizes that can travel at once. Due to air traffic and the dates changing, Family Readiness Groups are working to have rooms set up to welcome home the single soldiers that are returning. The groups have varied, there has been one smaller Advon (Advanced Echelon) group that has returned and two main body groups returned within three weeks. I was able to help welcome one of these main body groups home.”
“There has been a tremendous outpouring of support from all over the U.S. helping out to welcome these troops home and they have been able to keep up in supplies but there is still another battalion that has not returned yet and will do so in the next month,” Maggie said.
While she was in Italy she found support for herself as well as returning troops. “I have been enjoying seeing my friends again and just meeting some of the men that my hero worked with over in Afghanistan,” she said. “It has been an honor to get to know them and share stories about Kyle and to hear about what an amazing soldier, mentor and inspiration he was to everyone.”
“I was a part of a ceremony to honor my husband and was presented with a plaque and a flag that was flown in Afghanistan at half staff the day he was lost,” Maggie said. “In May, my family and I will be returning again to Italy for the 173rd Battalion memorial in which they will honor all of the fallen heroes from the deployment.”
She added, “We have had great military support and family and friends have been there for us since Kyle was lost… That is enough just knowing we are in everyone’s thoughts and prayers as we move forward to honor our hero each day.”
Maggie is moving on with her life, one that has been influenced profoundly by Sgt. Kyle before and after his death.
“I am currently a graduate student at UND (University of North Dakota),” she said. “I began this program in the summer of 2011 and, with the strength I have been given through Kyle, the support from my family, friends, and peers at school, I was able to continue school through this crisis, and I am on track to graduate on time this coming December.”
“I will be receiving my masters of social work with aspirations of counseling soldiers and their families and continuing my education in pursuit of my doctorate degree,” she said. “I have begun the early stages of funding a scholarship foundation in honor of my late husband to help support fellow spouses such as myself who wish to continue their education as I have.”