HILLSBOROUGH CO., Fla. (WFLA) — A gifted woodcarver from New Hampshire is honoring the 13 U.S. service members killed in Kabul in August the best way he knows how.
He’s delivering a handmade wooden cross to each of the families that lost a loved one in the attack, including one in the Tampa Bay area.
Stephen Wing doesn’t know any of these families. He’s already made his way to Tennessee and North Carolina to meet with some.
He and logger Dan Peterson came down to Riverview Monday to meet Paula Knauss Selph. Her son, Army Staff Sergeant Ryan Knauss was one of the 13 killed.
“These are 13 families who have been torn apart, and we as people should reach out to make sure they’re okay,” Wing said. “I can’t even tell you why it touched me the way it did, it just really bothered me.”
“When he was on that deployment, Ryan sent me his famous picture of his hat and sunglasses on, his hair cuffed over, and said all is fine mom, I love you,” Selph said. “We got that on Tuesday. By Thursday, Ryan was gone.”
Selph says her son was born military-ready. She says he knew the danger in Afghanistan, but he begged to go on that final mission. She says leadership has to answer for what happened that day.
“My grief is filled with anger because we lost 13 of our children who were great kids,” Selph said. “Ryan finished well, he did his mission well, not I expect our leadership to do their mission well.”
She’s thankful for Wing, because she says he’s making his own sacrifice.
“They’re making a difference and they’re standing up and saying what these men and women did made a difference for me,” Selph said.
Wing never served in the military, but he knows those 13 men and women put their life on the line for him, and so many people.
“You raised a great child, man, it should have never happened, but I’m grateful and I’ll never forget him,” Wing said to Selph.
Wing’s next few stops will be Texas, California and Wyoming. He says this trip will likely take two weeks.