Mother overcomes grief through service to others

Gold Star mother Sandy Deraps next to a charcoal drawing of her son, Leon, who was killed in 2006 while serving with the Marine Corps in Iraq.

Gold Star mother Sandy Deraps next to a charcoal drawing of her son, Leon, who was killed in 2006 while serving with the Marine Corps in Iraq.

When a member of the armed forces loses their life in service to the country, there is often a mother left behind who must learn to cope with the grief from the unexpected loss of a child.

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But for Jamestown resident Sandy Deraps, volunteering to support those who are still serving in the military provides an outlet by which to honor the memory of her son.

A 2005 graduate of Jamestown High School, Deraps’ son, Leon, followed in the footsteps of his veteran father when he enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2004, still a senior in high school.

Just months after completing his initial training, Leon was deployed to Iraq in February 2006. Three months later, on May 6, 2006, he was killed in the Al Anbar Province while engaged in combat operations against enemy forces.

“Losing Leon changed my focus in life and demonstrated the importance of being kind to others,” said Deraps. “I wanted to help his fellow Marines because I knew how much little gestures like receiving care packages meant to Leon when he was deployed.”

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