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Emma Weaver had already gone through the unthinkable: her husband, U.S. Army 1st Lieutenant Todd Weaver, would never be coming home again. Two days later, though, she began sifting through his effects that had been sent to her from his base in Afghanistan.

One of the items there was Todd’s laptop, which the grieving widow opened and booted up. She couldn’t have expected to find much, as her husband used the computer to communicate with his family from overseas. But as she looked at the device’s desktop, she noticed something that made her heart drop – and yet, she had to click on it…

Todd’s father had worked for the Foreign Service, but his son didn’t dedicate his life to serving his country until after the attacks on September 11, 2001. “It changed him,” read an obituary published on Facebook. “He told his parents that day that as soon as he could serve his country, he would do it.”

So on graduating from high school in 2002, Todd enlisted in the National Guard. At the same time, he started college at James Madison University. But deployments quickly postponed his education: the Guard sent him to help with the rebuilding efforts after Hurricane Isabel in 2003, and in 2004 he headed to Iraq.

Todd’s family first feared their son had been killed in Iraq when they heard news that a bomb had exploded in a mess tent where they knew their son dined. But on that occasion, Todd called home to assure them that he was okay. However, that was a phone call they would wait for in vain after an explosion in Afghanistan in September 2010.

Before his final deployment, though, Todd did quite a bit of living back home. He returned to Virginia and transferred from the National Guard to the ROTC, which allowed him to finish his education. He began his studies at the College of William and Mary, where he also reconnected with an old classmate, Emma Louise Elizabeth.

The two had actually met at a party in 2004. In fact, Emma went to leave the party, but a smitten Todd wouldn’t let her leave without a kiss. So they reconnected and strengthened their bond when Todd came home on furlough and when he returned from deployment, too. “Wherever Todd was, Emma was with him,” according to his Facebook obituary.

In the same week that he graduated from college and from the ROTC in 2008, Todd officially became a member of the U.S. Army. He also took another vow and married Emma. The two then started their life together, undeterred by how fragmented it could become by base transfers and deployments.

And despite their military lifestyle, they were able to start a family. Yes, the pair welcomed a daughter, Kiley, of whom Todd was extraordinarily proud. “Todd was good at everything,” Emma told The Washington Post. “He was never boastful, never proud.”

And Todd still felt the same wonderment when Emma sent videos chronicling everything from the baby’s first steps to her growing teeth. “That was the last video he got to see,” Emma said. “I was telling him about how she had gotten her third tooth. He said, ‘Wow. What a big girl.’”



Of course, Emma had no idea that her husband would never get to watch his daughter reach another milestone after that. Because on the other side of the world, he was leading a unit through its patrol duties on September 9, 2010. And that’s when an improvised explosive device went off.

His troops did all they could to save him, according to his father, Don Weaver. “That patrol that night had 17 Americans and 13 Afghan National troops,” he said. “They ran with his body to somehow save him. Over 500 yards they ran. They tried helicopters, but couldn’t do it, so they ran.”

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