Mommas shouldn’t bury their sons.
“Though there is nothing that can ease the sorrow in our hearts, we know that in the blink of an eye, Jeffrey was in the hands of God,” Annette Hall, mother of Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Hall, said.
Jeffrey was killed when an improvised explosive device was detonated below his vehicle on June 1, 2009. The blast killed Jeffrey and another Soldier, while critically injuring two others. He was 28.
“The day of his death, (he) was doing what he loved, surrounded by those who had the utmost respect for him, his fellow Soldiers,” Hall said. “When commanded to patrol a nearby village, he voluntarily moved his vehicle to the front of the platoon formation because ‘Rangers lead the way.’”
Like many boys, Jeffrey grew up wearing camo and pretending to be a Soldier, his mom said. He was born in Huntsville, Alabama, and joined the Army immediately after high school.
As he progressed through his Army career, he graduated from the Ranger Course, Airborne Course, Jumpmaster Course, Warrior Leader Course and others.
“Jeffrey was always 150%,” Hall said. “When he walked into a room, you felt his presence.
“He embraced life with zest, enthusiasm, curiosity, courage, honor and a love of God.
“He loved and lived his life to the fullest.
He wanted to experience everything and the best of everything.
His two favorite mottos were ‘set the standard’ and ‘live life top-shelf.’”
Jeffrey’s family buried him at Maple Hill Cemetery. Above his grave, there is a statue of the Archangel Michael battling Satan. When his mother saw it, she knew that was the proper marker for her son’s grave.
The inscription on the statue reads: “When a warrior fights not for himself, but for his brothers, when his most passionately sought goal is neither glory nor his own life’s preservation, but to spend his substance for them, his comrades, not to abandon them, not to prove unworthy of them, then his heart truly has achieved contempt for death, and with that he transcends himself and his actions touch the sublime.”
It’s the same quote Jeffrey’s company commander recited at his funeral.
Jeffrey is survived by his wife, Allison, daughter, Audrey Faith, mother, Annette, father, Charles and sister, Emily Pruitt.
“He was predestined to be a soldier, a man, leading men,” Hall said. “His motives were always simple and pure, and his personal faith in God ran deep through his core.”
Mommas don’t bury their sons and walk away.
The November after Jeffrey’s death, the surviving family members were special guests at the annual Veterans Day parade. That’s when Hall said she realized that Gold Star families and their fallen warriors lacked representation in the day’s events.
“That day, I understood my personal destiny –that I had an obligation to stand for our fallen warriors, their memories, service, honor and sacrifice,” Hall said. “I promised myself, and my son, I would do all I could do to stand for them.”
Many things had to fall in place for Hall to begin to fulfill her promise.
She said in 2010, Jeffrey’s family and friends had marched in the Veterans Day parade, and around that time, the Army brought Survivors Outreach Services to the arsenal, headed up by Kerrie Branson.
“What a blessing for the area Gold Star families,” Halls said. “Kerrie and the SOS Office sponsors many programs and events to bring together the families of our Fallen.
“Kerrie now organizes a Gold Star family float for the Veterans Day parade each year, and our family continues marching in Jeffrey’s honor.”
Later, Hall would make the acquaintance of the president of the Birmingham area chapter of American Gold Star Mothers, and after learning about American Gold Star Mothers chapters do, Hall set out to charter a chapter in North Alabama, which would serve the 18 counties in Redstone’s Survivor Outreach Services’ area.
“When I began the process to start a chapter, I didn’t realize all the ‘red tape’ required by the National Association to become a charter chapter,” she said.
Nevertheless, in May of 2018, the North Alabama chapter of American Gold Star Mothers received its official charter from the National Association of American Gold Star Mothers.
The group is made up of 10 mothers who meet regularly and a handful of others, whose attendance is more sporadic because of “work, age, health or distance.”
Hall said the first year was a learning experience, but the goals of the chapter are to: “serve as a peer support group for our Gold Star Mothers; initiate and participate in programs and events that honor the memories, service, honor and sacrifices of our fallen warriors; and support our military and their families, active and veteran.”
This year the group has selected a number of projects.
They’ve worked with State Sen. Arthur Orr to get the original Gold Star family car tag design reinstated. Hall said she expects the design to be reinstated starting in 2021.
The group is working with Cotton Row Run organizers to place photo/name stickers on all runner’s number bibs for the 2020 race, which will take place over Labor Day weekend this year, a postponement from its usual time of Memorial Day.
Hall said the chapter would sponsor a holiday outreach event for the SOS service area families in November and December 2020, along with sponsoring a summer outing event for Gold Star children.
And the chapter is assisting in the installation of the Gold Star Family Monument alongside the Huntsville Madison County Veterans Memorial in downtown Huntsville.
According to organizers for the monument, the committee is in the process of finalizing the designs for the etchings that will be on the back face of the monument, engineering plans have been completed for the surrounding plaza, donations are being accepted, and brick pavers to be placed in the walkway leading to the monument are available for purchase by visiting the Huntsville-Madison County Veterans Memorial web site.
Hall does all of the work to honor her son.
“He was a Soldier’s Soldier, but he also had a very loving and gentle heart,” she said. “He was a devoted husband and father and son.”