Updated 07/30/2012 05:09 PM
Parents of Soldier Killed in the Line of Duty Say Son Died a Hero
The parents of Private First Class Theodore Matthew Glende are speaking out for the first time since learning their oldest son was killed in the line of duty while serving his country in Afghanistan.
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The past few days have been an emotional rollercoaster for Ted and Ava Glende. Since receiving news that their oldest son was killed while trying to give medical aid to fellow soldiers in Afghanistan, they've flown back and forth to Dover Air Force Base, fielded hundreds of phone calls, and are trying to mourn privately.
"I don't think I can tell you too much what happened Friday, Saturday, Sunday,” Ava said.
“I think each day will get better,” said Ted.
“So we're taking comfort in knowing that he's back in America,” said Ava.
The Glende's want Private First Class Theodore Matthew Glende and his heroic actions while under enemy attack in the mountains of Logar Province, Afghanistan to be the focus of all news reports, not them.
They say Glende died fulfilling his passion. The 23-year-old former McQuaid and Niagara University ROTC student dropped out of college his junior year after learning the military planned to commission him as reserve lieutenant. His parents say he wanted to be an active duty infantryman.
Fellow soldiers tell the Glende's and Theo's wife Alexandra that he saved five men before he was shot and killed.
"We’re very proud of our son, the sacrifice that he gave was ultimate. While we are dealing with the grief of losing him, we understand that anyone of those young men would have done the same for him,” Ava said.
Theo, as family and friends call him, left for his first tour of duty in late June; just two months after he and wife were married at Rochester City Hall. The couple met about two years ago while working together at the Pittsford Wegmans.
Alexandra recently graduated from nursing school and visited Theo and the men she describes as his brothers in Italy before he left for Afghanistan. She will now use her degree to care for one of those soldiers that her husband saved when he comes to Rochester to pay his respects at a military funeral.
The Glende's say it's impossible to put their feelings into words, but say they're extremely grateful for the outpouring of love and support, and hope people will remember Theo the way they do.
"Very fun loving, jokester, storytelling, man that just was passionate about what he did, loved fiercely and was a very brave, brave young man that we will all miss, all miss,” said Ava.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has directed all flags be flown at half-staff on Thursday in honor of Private First Class Theodore Matthew Glende.