Airmen are reminded that every choice has a consequence

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Sherree Grebenstein
  • 167th Airlift Wing
Choices. Some are good and some are bad.

We make them every day, but some have lasting, irreversible effects which can take or change lives.

When Brian W. Strobridge chose to drive a dump truck under the influence on July 10, 2002, he not only killed three people but altered the lives of their loved ones.

There is no rewinding the track of life. Marion Frances Rao, Carleton Wilcox and Terry Lee Walker Jr. will never walk this earth again.

Margaret Walker, the mother of 17-year-old Terry, said she lost her only child that day after Strobridge chose to drive under the influence of cocaine. As a volunteer for Mothers Against Drunk Driving since 2005, Margaret has passionately shared her heartbreaking story numerous times over the past decade in hope that it might convince people not to drive under the influence or distraction of anything, to include texting.

"We are all affected by drunk driving, impaired driving, texting and driving," she said. "This is about choices."

Speaking to Airmen assembled for a briefing - April is Alcohol Awareness Month - in hangar 305 on base, Margaret shared pictures of her son on a jumbo screen, from childhood through his high school graduation. Sadly not long after earning his diploma in 2005, Terry was killed in the multiple vehicle crash.

Margaret noted that it wasn't an accident that took her only child's life but a crash. She said crashes are preventable while accidents are not.

"This is about choices," she told Airmen.

The oldest of eight children, Margaret said never envisioned living life without her son and future grandchildren.

But her reality changed late one night after she picked up the phone only to hear a police officer on the other end of the receiver. She said she couldn't fathom why the police wanted to know her address.

Margaret said her "gut started to scream" that something bad had occurred, but her worst fear was realized when she had to identify her son "laying on a cold, metal gurney at Brown Funeral Home."

"It was a defining moment of my life forever," she said.

She recalled to Airmen that her son "was looking forward to his life. He was so looking forward to living."

Three people died because of one man's choice, she said.

Sandee Palmer, who has volunteered with MADD since 1999, told Airmen that Margaret is only the second victim to share her story since she joined the organization 16 years ago.

Palmer said 10,000 people are killed annually on United States highways. She asked Airmen not only to remember Margaret's story of loss, but share it with others.

"God has a purpose for all of our lives," she said. "Not to hurt one another but to help one another."