Larraine McGee was proud of her son Christopher Lee Everett — a Huntsville native and Bronze Star recipient — when he decided to join the Texas Army National Guard out of high school.
The Gold Star mother will honor her son, as the Texas Remembering Our Fallen memorial wall arrives at the H.E.A.R.T.S. Veterans Museum this weekend.
“I felt like he was going to be safe and of course I had no idea that they deployed the National Guard to outside wars,” said McGee.
In the summer of 2004, Chris was fulfilling his two week training in Fort Hood when a unit in Fort Worth asked for volunteers in their upcoming deployment to Iraq.
Chris volunteered for deployment hoping that gaining combat experience would make it easier for him to move to an East Texas unit where he could fulfill his dream of flying helicopters when he returned from service.
“He was not a sit behind the desk kind of person … he wanted to be out doing something. He was adventurous and didn’t seem to be scared of anything,” McGee said.
Chris returned home for rest and recuperation in July 2005 and told his mother that he thought they were really making a difference in Iraq.
“He was raised with a patriotic, ‘love your country’ background, and he was just doing what he thought was the right thing to do,” McGee said.
On Sept. 7, 2005, Staff Sgt. Everett was working in the motor pool at Camp Taqaddum, power washing high mobility multi-purpose wheeled vehicles when he was fatally electrocuted from improper electric grounding on a U.S. base in Iraq at the young age of 23.
“He was just doing his job that had been assigned to him that day,” McGee said.
At 18 months apart, Chris’ younger brother, Kyle, joined the Marines after high school serving in Baharan and Afghanistan. Kyle was due to be released in December of 2005 for college, but volunteered to go to Iraq to finish what Chris started.
“In his mind, he just felt that he had to (go to Iraq) because Chris had been there and died there,” McGee said.
Kyle departed at the beginning of November following his brother’s death, returning in February of 2006.
“That was the longest three months of my life… I just prayed, and prayed, and prayed that I didn’t lose him too, and I didn’t,” McGee said.
McGee hopes for a strong turnout for the Texas Remembering Our Fallen memorial wall visiting the H.E.A.R.T.S. Veterans Museum from September 15-22. The wall will feature photos of veterans like Chris, who have passed since the September 11 attacks.
“He was the one that was there and went through hell, not me. Yes, it affected us, what happened to him, and I wish it hadn’t happened, but that’s just the price of freedom… we take so much for granted, how much we have here in the US,” McGee said. “I think it’s important to remind people that we live in a very safe environment and it’s not that way everywhere and it’s thanks to our military that we have that here.”
McGee hopes that seeing the faces of Texas’ fallen heroes will help put into perspective the cost of our nation’s safety and common resources such as electricity and water.
14 years later, not a day goes by that McGee is not reminded of her son.
“I never thought I should have to bury my children, my children were supposed to bury me; that’s the course of life,” McGee said. “(It) was hard for me to have to deal with that but I’ve come to accept it and know that I have to go on and all I can do is talk about it, keep his memory alive and do things to help where I can.”