An Indiana veteran sat in his kitchen ready to take his life. Then he looked at the clock.
Holly V. Hays
March 14, 2019
Two days later, while he was still contemplating how best to kill himself, Eric received a phone call. One of his former platoon sergeants, a close friend, had killed himself.The Glock was loaded with a round in the chamber.
U.S. Army veteran Eric Donoho sat in the kitchen of his Carmel home, trying to decide where he was going to die.
Not here, he thought. My family's gonna have to live in the house I just killed myself in.
Eric had been to war. Survived three bomb blasts. Lost children and friends. Was on the verge of losing his marriage.
Would the yard be better? Should I get in the car?
The minutes ticked by as he deliberated. Something made him check the clock.
Time to pick up the kids.
He walked away from the fateful decision that day but remained committed to following through with it.
The death would later upend his family. But the death would not be his.
Bliss and heartbreak
A native of South Bend, Eric enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2004, when he was 26. He trained at Fort Benning, Georgia, completing infantry, airborne and shoulder-fired missile training. On a flight to his assignment in Fort Richardson, Alaska, he met the woman who would become his wife.
They spent much of the eight-hour flight between Atlanta and Anchorage laughing, Jenn Donoho said. They married nine months later, March 2006.
“We had so much fun in our early relationship and marriage, and whenever things were tough, he always had the right amount of humor to lighten those moments,” Jenn said.
They had less than a year together before Eric was deployed in October. Jenn was 28 weeks pregnant with their first child, a son they would name David.
"We said goodbye at base," Jenn said, "and that night, I dreamed that David died."
A Red Cross notification upon landing in Kuwait had Eric back on a flight to Alaska. There was trouble with the pregnancy. He arrived just in time for his son's stillbirth.
The couple buried their son at Fort Richardson National Cemetery before Eric redeployed to catch up with his platoon in Iraq.
“That was horrible for everybody,” Jenn said.
Eric was rattled by an explosion his first night back.
He returned to the things he loved before war: photography and the outdoors. During a veterans retreat and expedition to New Mexico he took a photo he now calls “The Canyon of Hope" along the Gila Fork River.
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