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Gold Star mom thankful Biden’s announcement will bring more soldiers home

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A handful of Hoosier troops are heading over to Afghanistan right now and are due to arrive within the next couple of weeks. The Indiana National Guard said more had been notified they would have to go. But it would seem like that’s no longer necessary.

Janice Schauwecker, the mother of Staff Sergeant Richard Blakley who was shot and killed by a sniper in 2006, is thankful for what this means for other families.

While Blakley was killed in Iraq, his commanding officer said had served in Afghanistan as well.

“Very proud, worried about him all the time of course,” Schauwecker said.

Blakley joined the military out of high school, even before his high school graduation from Avon. She remembers his chosen profession as medic came as a surprise.

“We’re like, ‘Wait a minute,’” Schauwecker said. “And Rick said, ‘As long as it’s not my own blood, I’m okay.’”

Blakley was in the service 17 years.

In January of 2006, he was shot in the shoulder by a sniper, earning the Purple Heart. He was the one to call and inform his mother he’d been injured.

“All I could think was that as long as I could hear his voice, I know he’s OK,” Schauwecker said. “When he said he got shot, I kept thinking, as long as I could hear his voice, I knew he was OK.”

Blakley got to come home for his kids’ birthdays, but then it was back to Iraq. On June 6, 2006, he was shot again while out on patrol.

“Went straight through his heart,” Schauwecker said. “It was just above the Kevlar vest and right to his heart.”

Almost 15 years later, it can still feel like just yesterday with the right meal or even a bluebird flying past, taking Schauwecker back to that time. It’s like being in a pit and having to crawl out again.

“I did all those things I was supposed to do but I don’t remember, I was just in a daze,” she said. “You’ll hear a song or see a flower or some thought will come across your mind and I’m right back at day one.”

President Joe Biden’s announcement Wednesday comes on the same day as the groundbreaking for the Indiana Gold Star Families Memorial Monument on the American Legion Mall across from the Central Library. It’s designed to honor all fallen service members.

It’s set to be unveiled to the public on May 1 at 1:30 p.m.

Schauwecker worries the removal of troops may make this country less safe. But most of all, she’s thankful it means 2,500 families get to welcome their sons and daughters home safe and sound, the place her son most wanted to be.

“All he could think of was coming home to his kids, being home,” Schauwecker said. “He always told me, he missed home cooking, he missed people, but just being home more.”

Both Blakley’s daughter and widow became nurses, which was his dream once he left the military.

His kids are now 26 and 24. His daughter just had a baby girl about a year ago. She named her Blakley.