The Loudmouth Project

Sacrifice

In this episode Amy Alleman talks about the decision she and her husband Micheal B. Alleman made to join the military in the wake of the attacks on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. Amy talks about why the history teacher wanted to volunteer with a pregnant wife and two small boys, and what sacrifice meant to both of them. She discusses the realities of that commitment when a solider dies in service to this country, and how her service, quite proudly, continues despite his death. Her sons, who know their father mostly through his writings and their relatives, read from their father’s journals, as the entire family gives us insight into what sacrifice entails for thousands of American families.

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Tom Luoma
Hello, I'm Tom Luoma

Jason Comstock
And I'm Jason Comstock, and welcome to We Happy Few, our podcast that allows veterans and their families to tell their stories,

Tom Luoma
Stories that will cover a broad spectrum of lived experiences. From time in service to the return home and beyond

Jason Comstock
Experiences shared with the hope that all listeners will better understand this sometimes complicated lives of veterans and their families. Thank you for listening to we happy for you.

Amy Donaldson
This is Amy Donaldson and today on We Happy Few I'm going to talk with Amy Alleman. On February 23, 2009, Army Corporal Micheal Alleman was one of three soldiers killed in Balad, Iraq. He left behind his wife Amy and two sons Kennet and Kai. At the time Kennet was 6 and Kai was 4. Today we talked to Amy about what it's like to live with sacrifices that her family's made for this country. Kai and Kennet are also going to read from their dad's journals and talk about what it's like to live a lifetime in just a few years of memories and other people's stories.

Tell me who is Micheal.

Amy Alleman
Micheal. Micheal Boyd Alleman was born in January of 1978. And he was born in Blackfoot, Idaho, he's the oldest of four. So going to Fort Benning, for him was in way kind of like going home, I guess. And, and he he wanted to be an astronaut growing up. And there's this picture that his mom has of him that she had snuck in, he was supposed to be in bed, and he's got on a T shirt. And then these cute little white underwear. And he's just a little boy. And he's just staring out at the stars. He's always always been fascinated with space and dinosaurs and sharks. I think the typical little boy things like that, you know, and then he was really bummed when he found out he couldn't be an astronaut. Because his eye sight wasn't good enough.

Micheal was a lover of knowledge, like he collected National Geographics, and he loved he read read everything from existentialism to Twilight. And he would just, he would just devour it. Anything he had his hands on, he loves snakes, and he was a kid, they would just almost like, gravitate towards him, you know. And so therefore, I think when he got out of high school, I think it was difficult for him to figure out what he actually wanted to do. Originally, before he went to USU for education, to teach school he wanted to be a geologist. He loved the way that the earth is formed. He loves being outdoors. So we would drive places and he'd be like, you see how this line and that dirt looks like that. It's because of this, this, this and this. And I'm like, okay, I loved hearing it. But I was it took me a long time to understand. what it was, you know, and stuff. So

Amy Donaldson
Let me, first tell me, Micheal was a junior high school teacher?

Amy Alleman
Elementary, elementary school. Yeah, he taught fifth grade at Nibley Elementary, which is just like about four miles from where I live right now. We were in the middle of his second year there when we felt that we needed to join the military. And so, you know, that was a really big experience right there. But because of the circumstances, we were going to wait until the end of the school year to go. But then we found out we could get this massive enlistment bonus if he could leave in like a month. And so he wasn't contracted with the school. So we kind of like signed up in December. And he left January 10 for basic training. So it was really, really quick.

I was pregnant with our third baby and I miscarried on Christmas Eve. And then while I thought I had just miscarried, I actually had an ectopic that had burst, it was January 4, and I was like, I don't feel very good. So I went into the hospital that they found out that that's what it was until they brushed me to surgery. And, and then you know what, five days later I'm, we're standing there at the army place, like, I've just had surgery and I'm waving goodbye, like, see in four months. I don't know, I look back at that time. And it just feels like such a whirlwind. How in the world would be making it through that.

Even though I was not too far in my pregnancy, that's still really hard. It's a loss, you know, that that's really hard to deal with. And I didn't have him there with me to lean on like that. So we had to do it through letters. And somehow it feels like a road that I knew that we were always going to go down. I don't know really how to explain that. But it just seems so Michael. But at the same time, you know, he's so much more than just a soldier, you know, he's a husband, and he's a father and he's, he's a son and a brother. And he and he did immensely well in all of those roles.

Like when he did the lab test down in Salt Lake, his military recruiter, Chris Johnson, he told me, he's like, I'm just gonna tell you this, because I know that he won't, because he's too humble. But he got the highest possible score, you can get.He's wickedly smart, but he's also down to earth. And he's, he's witty and funny. And, you know, and so I knew that he would be a wonderful soldier. And he's honorable, he's so honorable. And he is extremely hard working.

There was actually a letter when he was in Iraq, that they had to carry this equipment, this certain amount of miles, and everybody took turns carrying this extra equipment already on top of their combat vests, and, and how he carried it. And instead of when his time was up, instead of handing it off to the next person. He waited until his commanding officer made him hand it over, because he was like, I'll just keep carrying it, you know, he was so strong physically, and he was very strong mentally. And I think that's also made him a really good soldier, because he could think quick on his feet. They never had to worry, he wasn't doing what he was supposed to be doing.

He was so good with words. It was so good with words. And I love that. So I love my letters that he wrote to me, because they're just so poignant, and they're just, they're just beautifully written. But he's very quiet. And he has a very angry looking face. when you're talking about one of the things that drew me to him. That was, it was his angry looking face. I'm like, he looks like a serial killer. And yet, I think that's really cute, like, and he,

we were working at Macy's grocery store, and he worked on the night crew. And I would just, I was a checker at the time during the day. But I would work sometimes, you know, until the night checker came in, and so he would come into work. And I was like, Who is that really just, stoic, angry looking guy, you know, I was so drawn to him. And then I worked on the night crew for a month. And then the very last night before I was gonna go back two days, he asked me out on a date. And that was literally like, the first time he ever talked to me was to ask me on it. Apparently, his mom told me he hadn't been on a date and an entire year before he went out with me, because she told them, I'm not making you another pan of bars until you you talk to a girl. He didn't even have to go on a date. So he told her, she owed him to pants because people talk to a girl and last one out,

but he is just a lover of the world.

Amy Donaldson
If you could talk to him have one more conversation, have you had that, you probably do.

Amy Alleman
Yeah, all the time. I go down to our headstone a lot. And I just sit there next to him. And I just chat chat chat away. I always say we have very one sided conversations, but luckily, our headstones only like a mile away from our house. So it's really easy to get there. So I find myself walking there, and I will always gravitate towards it. Because it's very healing to sit there and just say, the kids are doing this right now can it's really into acting, which is another thing that Micheal love doing, he did theater and drama in high school to and just the everyday things that helps us feel connected to him. And we don't have to go to the headstone to technically have that, you know.

We have it here, I like to sit in this room a lot, and just sometimes just sit in absolute silence. And sometimes it feels like we have silent conversations, you know, but he is still extremely present in all the things that I do. And I and I love that. But if I I think that if I could, you know, honestly, if I could have one conversation where he actually did answer me back I think I just be doing the exact same thing that I'm doing right now. You know, I would just actually have a physical response, just talk his ear off.

Amy Donaldson
Is there something you miss hearing or silly or hear his laugh?

Amy Alleman
He would do this laugh sometimes when he would, when something was especially funny, and he would do this thing where he would grab his fist and he would like pound it on the chair and he would double over and it was this extra deep beautiful laugh that I just love. and I really miss that like that was one of my favorite like, just like simple things, you know, just just those really simple things. i think that's that's probably one of them. I mean, obviously I have a million but that's always the one that I think of the most is his laugh and and mostly how his left could charm me out of any type of if I was in a bad mood you know like he and his the way he could make me laugh I mean I it's like dark magic somehow I don't know but

And he does he has the most beautiful laugh and i and i and his smile you know which is so funny because I say that he's such an angry person angry looking person he's not an angry person but he's very angry looking or can be just and it's because he doesn't like to talk to people so he puts off this vibe of like if you come near me I'm going to get upset so don't come near me like

Really he's so tender and gentle and kind and funny and it was really sweet that one day I have this picture everyone my nightstand that he's doing this one smile and his sister told me you know that's that's an Amy smile smile that like I would only get to see that he would only really do for me is I don't know how they captured him with it. Because he normally is not like that. But I think he did that for me somehow, subconsciously, so I could have it.

Tom Luoma
I think this is a great time to take a break and hear from the businesses that are making this podcast possible. If you support us and what we are doing, please support them.

Amy Donaldson
Hi, I'm Amy Donaldson. And I'm Jason Lee. Listen to our free podcast voices of reason unless you enjoy screaming matches

Jasen Lee
Nope. You're not going to hear that with us. You'll hear folks who may disagree but seek to understand different views

Amy Donaldson
That's voices of reason on a KSL radio app or wherever you find interesting podcasts

Amy Alleman
Their readings are going to be kind of like the things that he wrote about the he when he was training in the Mojave Desert before they left for Iraq.

Kennet Alleman
My name is Kennet Alleman. I am the son of Micheal Alleman and I'll be reading I'll be reading his journal. We went on a driver's training exercise tonight out in the desert. For most of the night I got to stand in the LT air guard hatch. It was cool. Once we got out into the field away from base into the desert. Driving over rough and dusty Jeep tracks. I realized how much I missed the desert. I feel drawn to this landscape to desolation, dryness, sagebrush exposed geology. I like that as a place where the only strong and resourceful will survive. solitude. Quiet. stage last night outside the lowa. prior to rolling out one of the most beautiful thunderstorms that I've ever witness rolled from the west just as it got dark. It kicked up a wicked clouded, stinging blinding after the dust on them. We laid out on top of the striker watch it gorgeous bolts that raced across the sky bolts that struck the ground gusty winds that took my breath away. That's something else that I missed about the desert thunderstorms. It would have been perfect if my Amy had been there.

Amy Donaldson
Is there anything you would want to say to your dad?

Kennet Alleman
HI!

Amy Donaldson
Do you ever feel bad that you don't get to have him in your daily life?

Kennet Alleman
It's bit harder every single time.

Amy Donaldson
What do you want people to understand or know about growing up without a dad who sacrificed his life for the country?

Kennet Alleman
It's hard at first you get over it physically not mentally but..

Amy Donaldson
Would you join the military?

Kennet Alleman
Oh, yes!

Amy Donaldson
What do you think your dad would think of you and your brother?

Kennet Alleman
Well separate it would be nice, but together it would be chaos so.

Kia Alleman
My name is Kia Alleman. My father is Micheal Alleman and I'm going to be reading one of his stories about when he was in basic training. January 24 of 2008 gas chamber. We got to practice using our gas masks today. They took us to a training facility where we put our gas masks and helmets on and took us a platoon at a time into a room with burning tear gas. Even with the mask on you could feel it irritate your neck. Then we had to pull the mass away from our faces state our social security number and then clear the mask of all this CS that seeped in. It burns your eyes and throat but as long as you clear your mass quickly, it's not too bad. That was just a taste though. Next, they lined us up in in groups of 15 and take off our helmet. Then we had to take off our gas masks and put our helmets back on, buckle them and hold out our gas mask in one hand and our rifles in the other. Your eyes, water, your nose runs and your lungs burn. We had to wait until all 15 were ready. Before we could exit. My group got out pretty quickly. But one of the groups was there for four minutes. because one guy threw his helmet against the wall and try to escape. It was an experience how many people did the opportunity to do that.

Amy Donaldson
If you could say something to your dad, what will you say?

Kia Alleman
I don't know.

Amy Donaldson
Do you feel like you know your dad?

Kia Alleman
A little but not a whole lot.

Amy Donaldson
Do you feel cheated? That you have to know through stuff like this or other people's memories?

Kia Alleman
No.

Amy Donaldson
Why not?

Kia Alleman
I mean, I would like him to tell me these things. But it's also cool to hear it from someone else to and their perspective on it

Amy Donaldson
If your dad was around, what do you think you would do with him?

Kia Alleman
Go on a bike ride and probably run was him have him help me on my homework.

Amy Alleman
You want to say anything to him here.

Kia Alleman
I really wish he was here. Because I I see my friends with their fathers. And just wondering, like, what could have happened if he didn't die but I know he, he served for his country for a reason. And for us.

Amy Donaldson
How do you feel about your service?

Amy Alleman
That's still going I guess? I am so proud to be his wife. I loved going to see him in a family day and going to see him when he graduated. You know, and he he always I think it was so hard for him to to be so far away from us. And to know that he couldn't be there in an instant to help us if we were struggling. You know, so a lot of times, I didn't keep stuff from him. But I just I kept it, you know, because I'm like, he has so much to worry about already. And, and usually it's just small things like, I don't know, I would try to share the everyday things with him. So he was still feel connected to us.

But I didn't want to worry him. It was it was this delicate balance that I tried to to strike, but it's it's definitely been hard. And I miss him all the time. You know, but it's more in those moments. It's just those moments when we're watching a movie that I know he'd love or one that we had watched together. And sometimes I'll still turn to where he would normally sit and kind of still wait for him to laugh.

He was at Fort Benning, Georgia, and I was able to go out there for the family day. And he kept mole skin journals are his favorite. And he kept one that he wrote stuff in. And he's asked me to read this one that he had written. But he wrote it all the way back in December before he even left and it was all about why he joined the military. And so that's what I'm going to share right now. So he wrote this on December 22 of 2007 and titled, why I joined and he says, I joined the United States Army, because one day I expect to have the honor of meeting George Washington on that day. I want to shake his hand, look him in the eye and know that I earned it.

The United States of America is the greatest nation on the face of the earth. The man who created it did so under the watchful eye of our Heavenly Father. They risked everything to do this. They risked families, fortunes and reputations. When I graduated from high school, our country was at peace. The military was a career option, not a duty that I owed to my country.

September 11, 2001 was an event that changed my relationship with my country, we were attacked and quickly retaliated. I supported my country, but felt that I was too old and too busy with college, the war would be over quickly. Anyway, as the war on terror progressed, it became clear that the Armed Forces needed men to protect the country. I excused myself by saying that my wife and two young boys needed me at home, I was wrong, you are not a reason to avoid military service. You are exactly the reason that I should serve I need to step forward and do my duty as a man you deserve a husband and a father who does the right thing, especially when that requires him to be separated from you. The day I raised my hand and swore an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States of America was one of the proudest moments of my life.

I think that sums Michael up pretty well.

Tom Luoma
Join us again for the next episode of We Happy Few. If you have comments about the show, please contact us by email at tips at loudmouthproject.com or on Twitter at @loudmouthJason or @loudmouthTom

Jason Comstock
Check out our website at www. loud mouth project calm and navigate to the We Happy Few page. You can also find and subscribe to free episodes of our podcast on Google podcast, Apple podcasts and other places where you find interesting shows.

Tom Luoma
Be sure to review our show as well. We love to get your feedback and it helps us grow our audience.

Jason Comstock
We would like to thank our producer and editor Josh Tilton and our creative director Amy Donaldson for adding the spit and polish to our show.

Tom Luoma
Remember that the more we allow ourselves to listen, the more we allow ourselves to learn.

I'm Tom llama,

Jason Comstock
And I'm Jason Comstock, and until next time, keep listening. Keep learning and stay engaged.

Tom Luoma
If you were any veteran, you know was feeling self destructive or suicidal. Please don't hesitate to use the Veterans Crisis Line by either calling 1-800-273-8255 and pressing one or by texting 838255 or by visiting www dot Veterans Crisis line.net. This 24 seven confidential service is for all veterans all service members National Guard and Reserve their family members and their friends

Amy Donaldson
We Happy Few is production of the Loudmouth Project.

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