By Kelly Kennedy, Military Times
Updated 9/18/2009 4:11 PM
Sgt. Loyd Sawyer joined the Army to bring honor to death.
For years, he had worked as a funeral home director. His children learned that death was part of the normal cycle of life — that it's good to mourn for a loved one and there was no reason to fear the bodies their daddy embalmed in a workroom of their home.
But then he spent six months working at the morgue at Dover Air Force Base, Del. And then six more months in mortuary affairs at Joint Base Balad, Iraq.
After that, Loyd no longer saw death as part of a natural cycle.
The faces of dead troops began to haunt his every minute. Awake. Asleep. Some charred or shattered, some with faces he recognized from life, some in parts.
Once, after an aircraft crash, Loyd spent 82 hours lining up bodies side by side, the burnt remains still so hot they melted through the plastic body bags.
He took the images home with him, each of the dead competing for space in his mind. He spent hours crying on his family room floor, weeping as his dog Sophie licked away his tears, the only living comfort he could bear.
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