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Heroes of the heart

Firefighters take medals to fallen soldiers' mother

POSTED: October 13, 2010 4:09 p.m.
Photo by Denise Etheridge/

Hinesville firefighters Lt. Mike Alamo, left, and Justin Zeiman hold medals belonging to fallen soldier Nathanial Davy Weaver. The firefighters personally delivered the medals to Weaver's mother.

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Patsy Weaver Rabuck’s heart broke when her son, Master Sgt. Nathanial Davy Weaver, was killed by an IED two years ago in Qalat, Afghanistan. But her eternal heartache was lifted a little last week when two Hinesville firefighters brought her son’s medals home to her.
“I don’t know how to put it into words. It means so much to us,” Rabuck said in a telephone interview. Rabuck lives in Barnesville, a three-hour drive from Hinesville. “They [firefighters] are special people. Not many would take the time to track you down and bring you something that is very precious.”
Weaver, at age 39, died on May 18, 2008. He was a member of the Georgia National Guard’s 48th Brigade. Before his last deployment he lived in Hinesville with his wife and then 2-year-old daughter. The home the family rented belonged to the grandparents of a Hinesville firefighter. When Weaver’s wife later vacated the residence some surprising items were found to have been left behind.
“My grandparents own the property. When we helped clean it out we found his Purple Heart, Bronze Star and the flag from his coffin,” said senior Hinesville firefighter Justin Zeiman.
He said he felt obligated to return Weaver’s military honors to his family. That’s when his fellow firefighters, particularly Lt. Mike Alamo, stepped in to help. 
“Mike [Lt. Alamo] did all the legwork for me,” Zeiman said.
“I did a search on the Internet and put in a call to the sheriff’s office,” Alamo said.
Alamo, who was 4 when his father was killed in Vietnam, said he treasures his late father’s Army medals.  His father was assigned to a Special Forces unit and was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the firefighter said.
“That’s why I felt it was important to get them to her. They can pass them on to his children,” Alamo said. Weaver is survived by two sons as well as a daughter, according to his online obituary at legacy.com.
“My stepfather is retired military and he still lives here in town,” Alamo continued. “He put in 24 years before he got out. I put in eight years (in the Army) before I got out. My son is in the area going through Air Force academy training. My daughter is married to a sailor. They’re stationed in Hawaii. So we understand how important having (those medals is). These are things you can’t replace.”
Rabuck said her son loved the military.
“He said he wanted to do one more tour in Afghanistan. He could have come home two days earlier (before his death to a roadside bomb) but he told me ‘Mama, I don’t want to leave my men behind.’”
The bereaved mother said coping is “an everyday challenge,” but she carries on for the ones around her. Rabuck said she was overwhelmed by the kindness shown by Hinesville’s firefighters.
 “They’re heroes in my heart,” she said.
 

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