An all-around hero

by Todd Habiger
todd.habiger@theleaven.org

Richard was a war hero.

He served as a corporal in the Vietnam War. In 1976, while on a mission to rescue the crew of a disabled tank, Richard and his division came under heavy enemy fire and were separated from their larger platoon. The division suffered heavy casualties and injuries.

Despite being injured by exploding shrapnel, Richard initiated aid to his more seriously injured soldiers while delivering suppressing fire to halt the enemy advance. During this time, he was hit by enemy grenades that twice bounced off his body but failed to explode.

After carrying an injured Marine to safety, Richard took charge of the patrol and led it back to the platoon where the injured could receive aid. Richard received a Purple Heart for his injuries and a Bronze Star for bravery.

This would not be the last time that Richard would be recognized as a hero.

Nine years later, in 1975, Richard met a young widow named Beverly. He immediately fell in love and wished to marry her. But Beverly had some baggage. Namely, two young boys, ages 6 and 7. The boys were young and rambunctious and desperately needing a father figure.

Richard and Beverly wed on Aug. 28, 1975. They had a daughter together soon thereafter and a few years later, a son. What happened to Beverly’s two young boys? Richard adopted them and gave them one of his most cherished gifts — his name, Habiger.

I am Richard Habiger’s adopted son. And as I type out those words, I realize it’s the only time I ever had to use them in my life. To him, I wasn’t his adopted son, I was his son. I’ve seen many children over the years who were treated as less because they weren’t flesh and blood, especially after a couple have children who are of their flesh and blood. Dad didn’t care. He treated all of his children the same. He played no favorites.

I realized that Dad didn’t just fall in love with my mother. He fell in love with me and my brother and I was proud to call him “Dad.”

I wasn’t born Catholic. I became Catholic because Dad was a Catholic. He is not only responsible for my faith, but also for my career. Everything I have and became is because of him and his influence.

My dad died on Aug. 7 of this year. To many he was a war hero. To me, he was simply my hero.

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