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GLENN: I wanted to introduce you to somebody. It's Deborah Tainsh. Deborah, is she on the phone with me? Hi, Deborah, how are you?
TAINSH: I'm great, thank you.
GLENN: I met you, gosh, it seems like a thousand years ago now in Panama City, what was it, four weeks ago, three weeks ago?
CALLER: About that time, it sure was.
GLENN: And you were in line and you shook my hand and you handed me a bracelet. Will you explain to the audience what happened?
TAINSH: The bracelet, Glenn, was in memory of my husband and my son, Sergeant Patrick Tainsh who died in Iraq in battle near Sad'r City February the 11th, 2004, and we are so proud of him and his service knowing that he was serving a purpose greater than himself, and he also had an incredible story as a young man who was very rebellious and who overcame some addictions, and you have always been one of our family heroes because you were always willing to share your personal stories, and we always wanted you to know about Patrick and so knowing you were going to be here near our home, I told my husband who happened to miss you that night because he didn't get in line fast enough.
GLENN: Oh, I'm sorry.
TAINSH: I told him, I said, we've got to go at least give Glenn a bracelet and a little note to let him know what Patrick overcame to become one of the greatest American soldiers that there has been amongst all our others. And you were so gracious and wonderful to accept that bracelet and our note and to take the time to walk out from behind your area there and give me a big hug, and you don't know what that meant to me.
GLENN: Deborah, I have to tell you, I told you at the time that I would wear the bracelet for the rest of the tour, and I have, and if anybody is going to the movie theater tonight, you will see the black armband or the black band around my wrist and so you will know that it's Sergeant Patrick Tainsh. I'm sorry, I've been saying it's Tainsh.
TAINSH: You are correct, it's both ways, it's a Scottish name. Either way.
GLENN: I don't know if you know but he was killed the day after my birthday.
GLENN: I'd like to ask you, if you wouldn't mind, I would like to -- I told you I would wear it during the tour but I'd like to wear it even after that if you don't mind. I kind of, I've gotten used to it.
TAINSH: Glenn, we would be honored. And, you know, it's not only about Patrick but his comrades and every hero that wears a uniform for this nation. It's a reminder to all of us about all of them because they are the ones who stand the line for us.
GLENN: I will tell you that I've thought about my nephews who I think about all the time but I have two nephews that are serving right now and I think about them all the time because of Patrick's band. So I thank you for that.
You wrote a book called Heart of a Hawk.
GLENN: And it's about Patrick. How much of the struggles with his life do you get into?
TAINSH: I actually wrote this book so that it's not just a book about sending a son to war but about a son who came from the depths of a heroin addiction as a young man, want to share. I am actually Patrick's, what we call his bonus mom. We're not too fond of the word "Stepparent" in this household. His birth mother actually passed away when he was 17. I and my husband actually had custody from the time he was 13. My husband was a career Marine. He retired with 28 years in the Marine Corps, Vietnam and first Gulf War veteran. But with all the transition in Patrick's life from a young stir of his parents being divorced, gaining a new bonus mom and then suffering the death of his birth mother when he was only 17, Patrick started out with that rebellion, with marijuana that just pushed him to these other levels that at one time he was homeless, he and his friends were stealing from us. And these are things I talk about in the book to show that any American family can suffer these things. However, you don't give up on your kids. You may have to play hard love and tough love, but throughout the book I tell our entire story up through his coming back to his dad at 28 years old and saying he wanted help and then struggling through that with the help of his dad to actually kick cold turkey the heroin and then deciding he wanted to become part of the military. He chose the army.
GLENN: I have to tell you, what is truly amazing to me is not only is it a story about families and how, you know, even great families can have really tough times, et cetera, et cetera, and you can come back as a family but also here's a guy who was homeless, stealing from his parents, addicted to heroin, goes to war and has been awarded the bronze and silver star for saving the lives of his commanding officers and other soldiers.
GLENN: Tell me how he died.
TAINSH: They were actually outside of Baghdad international airport, which was their final place. He was 45 days due to come home, and they went out on a mission that night. They were cavalry scouts. So they were recon. They went out that night about 10:00 in search of the bad guys. Patrick was the gunner for his CO's Humvee. They were third in line in the four-vehicle convoy. Patrick spotted some mysterious activity on a canal and when he told his CO, said, hey, we need to check that out, as they were turning the convoy to check out the canal activity, an IED went off and RPG, rocket-propelled grenades were being shot in on them. Patrick being the gunner, he maintained not only what they call the saw gun on top of the Humvee but his other weapons. We were told he fired over 500 rounds to try to get everyone to safety. Once all of that was over, he told his CO he had been hit. Well, what no one knew at the time and what the doctors say they don't understand to this day, which is a miracle from God, is that Patrick was wounded at the offset of the explosion of the IED, but somehow the will that he had to protect those that he loved around him, he was able to fire enough shots to get everybody else to cover and get the insurgents out of the way and then he passed away in his CO's arms.
GLENN: Remarkable story, and you can find the book. It's Heart of a Hawk. You can find it at HeartofaHawk.com.
TAINSH: Or Amazon.com, Glenn.
GLENN: It is on Amazon as well? Heart of a Hawk.
TAINSH: And let me explain, I always feel like I have to explain that title. Heart of a Hawk has nothing to do with politics. I just want to say that the hawk is very important in this book if you read about it because it is a symbol of healing in Native American folklore, and there's a special hawk that showed up at our house the day of Patrick's Memorial service and that's where the title comes from.
GLENN: Deborah, thank you so much for sharing and God bless you and your family.
TAINSH: Glenn, thank you. God bless you and all you do.
GLENN: You bet.
TAINSH: And all our military.
GLENN: You know, let me just wrap it up with this thought. I have been saying -- I don't know if I've said this on the air as much as I've said it in the bookstores, as people come by and I've had a chance to talk to the crowds there at the bookstores and I've said, you know, the important message in the Christmas Sweater is that you've got to clear out all your junk. You've got to solve all of the things inside of you because you're here for a reason. You are here for a reason, and I am talking directly to you. And no matter what the junk is, big or small, heroin or just too much TV, whatever it is, whatever it is that you are fighting with, you've got to fight through it. Because you're here for a reason, God needs you to stand at a certain place and do something. And this is the best example.
Here's a kid who beats it and goes over, and a lot of people will look at that and say, well, yeah, but then he goes and dies. No. Then he went and he became a hero. Then he saved other people's lives. If he wasn't there, if Patrick would have stayed on his course or if Patrick would have killed himself through drugs or whatever, if he would have stayed on the self-destructive course, who would have saved all the soldiers over in Baghdad? Who would have saved the commanding officer? Would there have been somebody there? Sure, there would have been, but it would have been the same story? Would it have been the same outcome? Was that what his whole life was meant for? Was it for that moment? We don't know what our moments are that are coming, but we each have a moment and we've got to clear through our junk so we can be standing where we're needed when the time comes, and the time is coming.