A Becca Specialist at Lake Washington High School (LWHS) and mother of four, Mary Jo Bogden is reminded of how vulnerable her son is every time she passes Jake Herring’s football jersey on display at the school. A 2001 graduate with her son Michael, Sgt. Herring was killed in Iraq.
“To this day, I don’t know why he joined,” the Redmond resident said on a recent afternoon at her office. “He felt it was his opportunity to serve.”
Michael, now 28, served 16 months in Iraq and is currently on the outskirts of Kandahar, Afghanistan at a base called Rocky Edgerton. Bogden pauses to grab a tissue as she describes the base, which was named after her son’s best friend.
“Rocky’s birthday was July 9 and an IED (improvised explosive device) killed him on July 10,” she said. “Mike said the most difficult part of that was putting Edgerton’s name on everything there. Worse day of their lives. This was devastating.”
Bogden received a “red alert” when Edgerton was killed, notifying families of the casualty. She scrolls through her e-mail inbox on the computer and opens a red alert notifying her that another one of Michael’s good friends was recently killed by an IED.
“It scares the crap out of me,” Bogden said of the alerts. “But I know if I’m getting a red alert nobody’s coming to my door.”
She said her biggest fear is the IED threat, but she feels secure that her son has moved up through the ranks quickly and is now a staff sergeant who spends less time out in the field.
On Nov. 11, which is Veterans Day, LWHS’s Beta Club will team with LWHS’s Honor Society, GSA, Key Club, Loyalty and its Leadership class to host a “packing party” at VFW Post 2995 in Redmond.
Though she tries not to think about the war too often, she ends up checking her e-mail daily and waiting for her cell phone to ring.
“I’m never without my cell phone because I never know when I’m going to get a phone call from him. We curse each other if one of us misses a call,” Bogden said of her husband, Nick.
She also said the community has been very supportive and she is thankful her son’s troop will soon be the recipient of some of the packages.
Michael will come home next November, in time for his parents’ 40th wedding anniversary. He plans to finish college and work for Homeland Security.
“As difficult as war is, I think this will change Michael forever,” said Bogden. “But I think the change will be good.”