WOWT and Fareway have partnered to honor our heartland families who are actively serving in the military.
Each month, we honor a military family in Heartland Homefront. August brought us a heartrending reminder of why that's so important.
Jessica Skalberg told us, "Jamie and I met we he was 15 and I was 17 and we were just friends from the beginning."
While they started out as friends, Jessica and Jamie's lives evolved into a love story. "We were young and we had a lot of stuff to figure out on our own," Jessica said. "But we did it."
Jessica was 20-years-old when they got married. The family soon grew to three with the arrival of Carter. His mom calls him, "our miracle." Carter was just three-months-old when Jamie got the call. He was headed to Afghanistan.
"This whole deployment, I hadn't worried about anything," Jessica said. "Not at all." But on June 27, the family's life changed forever.
Jessica told us, "The night before he was killed it, was like midnight our time, and we had a great coversation. He just said, 'Honey I love you. I'm getting ready to roll out and I'll call you when I get back.'" But by the next morning, Jamie hadn't called.
"Then those men showed up at my house," Jessica said. "It was the most heartbreaking thing because I knew it was my husband."
As Jessica flew out to Delaware to receive her husband's body, her brother Jake was still serving overseas. "He went over there with his three best friends and they've all been killed," she said.
Jessica knew she needed her brother to get through this. She met with a General in Delaware and had one request. "I said, can you please bring my brother home? Please?"
They did. Jake got to come home. His family and little Carter were waiting for him at the airport.
"I'm so proud of my brother," Jessica said. Jake's visit was short. He wanted to go back to serve his country.
Jessica said, "To have to let go of my brother like that was so hard. I don't want to lose someone else like that. I can't."
But Jessica says this family knows soldiers are family too. "Those boys are brothers. They may not share the same blood. Those boys are brothers."
And now her mission is to make sure Carter grows up with the same courage his father and uncle have shown. She said, "I just wanted Carter to be that same great person that his dad was. Totally humble, strong, independent."
We’re going to be sharing the stories of area military families here on Heartland Homefront on the first Tuesday of each month. The families featured in our coverage will each receive a $250 grocery gift card. If you would like to nominate a family for consideration, click here