(Stars & Stripes) Carol Merritt felt both intense pride and worry during the eight years of her son’s military service.

During Aaron Merritt’s three combat deployments, two as an explosive ordnance disposal technician, she’d sometimes glance at her home phone wondering when it would ring with dreadful news.

That call didn’t come and she felt she could finally breathe a sigh of relief when he was released from active duty in January 2014. But nine months later, on the afternoon of Oct. 28, 2014, her husband visited her at work and with a broken voice told her that their son had died.

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