MALVERN, Ark. – For some the Memorial Day weekend is for activities and getaways but for other families around the country, it is a time to reflect and remember their fallen military loved ones.
For the family of U.S. Marine Sgt. Michael Yarbrough, they think of him constantly, especially on Memorial Day.
“Memorial Day is not a holiday to party and get drunk, it’s to remember the fallen,” Yarbrough’s mother Rhonda Kidder said.
Kidder says she carries Yarbrough’s dog tags with her everywhere she goes.
“He had a heart of gold, he would have done anything for anyone and he loved being a Marine,” Kidder said.
Kidder said Yarbrough is from the small town of Glen Rose, but he signed up to the Marines after the attack on Sept. 11, 2001.
“He said, ‘Mom, did you see what they did to us?’ I said, ‘Yes son I did,’ and he said, ‘Well, I’m just telling you I went and signed up for the Marines today,'” Kidder said.
Kidder said she told Yarbrough she was proud of his service. At 24, he did three tours in Iraq, most of which he volunteered for.
“He said I will tell you as long as my men are over there I’m going to be there,” Kidder said.
On Sept. 6, 2007, Yarbrough’s sister Misty Speers says it was just 11 days before he turned 25 when he and the soldiers he was with made the ultimate sacrifice.
“He was actually doing roadside checks when he was killed when a suicide bomber had drove through their checkpoint. So he and three others went after him and all three were killed that day,” Speers said.
His other sister Christy Smith said like many families, her family thinks of her brother on Memorial Day.
“It means that he made the ultimate sacrifice and that we have to live with that fact that he is gone,” Smith said.
Speers says when she thinks of several selfless acts that Yarbrough did while he was stationed, and it makes her a proud sister.
“He drove one of the amphibious assault vehicles so they go on land or in the water,” Speers said.
After 15 years, their loss not only still brings tears to their eyes but also laughs of the funny memories they have of Yarbrough.
“He was a class clown; he was always pulling pranks on someone,” Yarbrough said.
Hoping everyone will remember all of the fallen as they are thinking of the little boy who always dreamed of being a soldier leaving behind a uniform filled with honor.
“We love him, we miss him and to this day he will forever be our hero,” Smith said.
For Yarbrough’s heroic actions, he received numerous medals and ribbons, including a Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon, The National Defense Service Medal, and The Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.