Gold Star mom remembers hero on Memorial Day


EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT)- Jonathan Pfender was killed in Iraq in December of 2005 after starting his military career just a few months earlier.

For 15 years, Peggy Hammond has been cleaning the memorial that marks her son’s final resting place.

Jonathan Pfender was killed in Iraq five days after Christmas in 2005. His mother says she had a gut feeling and knew something happened but she didn’t want to admit it to herself.

“That it was somebody else’s son.,” Peggy Hammond explains.

But it was Jonathan. Now, she reflects on the last time they spoke.

“And he called at 12:01 pm and we talk to 12:55 pm. Normally when you called it was like five minutes. Real brief. And that was it, that was my last I love you. That was it,” she explains.

And who he was as a child.

“He was always pranking me, teasing me, doing something.”

She says growing up, she knew he would join the military. “Kindergarten he mentioned ‘I want to be infantry, the army.’ Then he mentioned it again in seventh grade and he didn’t mention it again until he got into high school. His senior year.”

But she never thought she would say goodbye to him forever. Hammond says if she had one more chance to see her son, she’d treasure the moment.

“And just give me a hug. I don’t get to hear his voice but I would do anything just to have him prank me like he used to,” Hammond says.

Even after so many years, she says some things are still hard for her.

“When I see his friends I think how close they were,” She explains.

And thinking about what his life could have been. But she says she made her son a promise, “I told him, I am going to walk through the grief every day because if I don’t I won’t survive.”

And she tries to live up to that every day. Hammond says she hopes people remember what today is about and be thankful for the freedoms we have because of the sacrifices of people like her son.

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(This story was originally published on May 25, 2020)

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