CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Thousands of service members have made the ultimate sacrifice over the past 10 years in Iraq and Afghanistan while serving in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
These service members leave behind families who make significant sacrifices of their own. Mother’s sacrifice their sons and daughters, spouses are widowed by the death of their husband or wife, and children grow up without fathers and mothers.
Cpl. Crystle Bishop, an ammunition technician with Combat Logistics Regiment 2, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, lost her husband while she was just seven months pregnant.
Her husband, Cpl. John Bishop, was serving as a machine gunner for 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, when he lost his life in Afghanistan
The newlywed couple was expecting their first child, now six-month-old Ella-Monica, but John had also fathered a five-year-old son from a previous marriage.
“I remember the day he left,” said Bishop. “I was driving his son, K’Sean, to his mother’s house and I was crying so badly. K’Sean said to me ‘It’s okay, daddy will be home soon and you can be warm again.’
“He’s so much like his dad,” she continued. “He’s so caring and loving. His dad was his whole world and K’Sean was John’s too.”
Bishop began going about her life just like any other family member separated by deployment. She sent care packages and included ultrasound pictures of their then unborn daughter.
“He never got [the ultrasound pictures]. They were sent back to me. It was like a punch in the face,” she said.
She awaited his calls and cherished the moments when she could hear his voice.
“The first time he called me [from Afghanistan], I was at the pool with my best friend and my phone rang, I looked at the number and thought and didn’t know who it was, but I answered anyway and all he said was ‘Hey babe.’ and I started crying. From then on, every time he called I would cry.
“The last conversation we had was like 30 minutes long,” she continued as she recalled that September day. “I told him I loved him, how much I missed him, how the baby was doing. It was so good. Everything seemed so great.”
It was just a short week later that Bishop received the news that her husband had been killed in action.
“I was at a [class] in Raleigh and I was told I needed to go back to base.” she explained. “I thought it had something to do with the barracks. I was mad, wondering why they couldn’t wait for the [class] to be over.”
“When they started to tell me, I didn’t think they were going to tell me it was John. He was just so good at his job that it didn’t even cross my mind.”
Although Bishop’s husband is gone she still has a little piece of him in their daughter.
“When I look at her I see him-you can’t escape it. Her eyes, the way they are set, it’s him,” explained Bishop.
Despite the tragedy that is still new to her, Bishop has surpassed all expectations and continues to be an extraordinary non-commissioned officer, said Sgt. Maj. Paul A. Berry, CLR-2 sergeant major.
“I am new to the unit and had no idea that this corporal had lost her husband and didn’t even know she had a baby,” Berry said. “I didn’t know until I asked leadership about her, because she stood out to me.
“She is the embodiment of [the Marine Corps’] core values and is the shining example of what an NCO should be,” he continued. “She does not flinch in her duties as an NCO. She is everything the NCO creed says she should be. She is a single mom and an NCO and she comes to work early and leaves late if need be.”
Bishop was nominated by her regimental sergeant major to attend a Mother’s Day tea party at the White House May 6, 2011.
Dr. Jill Biden and First Lady Michelle Obama hosted the tea party to show their appreciation for military spouses.
“It was an exciting experience,” she said. “It makes you realize you’re just this little piece of a much bigger picture.”
As Bishop continues to cope with her loss and focuses on raising her daughter, she is left with the memory of her honorable husband.
“He was the greatest man I ever knew,” said Bishop. “If we ever had a problem we talked about it and worked to make it better. If I was feeling down he made the situation silly. Together, we had everything we could ever want.
“I have his flags and all of his awards put away,” she continued. “So one day when Ella-Monica is old enough, and she asks why she doesn’t have a daddy, I will be able to tell her she does and that he died a great, honorable man.”