More of the story on Katherine Cathey, Marine 1st Lt. Cathey’s wife

This is a picture story:  Maybe being a Marine myself, this hits harder, but I doubt it.

On the tarmac at the Reno Airport, 23-year-old Katherine Cathey waits in a limousine next to an empty hearse, preparing to watch the arrival of her husband’s casket. Five days earlier, she learned of her husband’s death in Iraq. Two days later, she learned that her baby would be a boy.

At the first sight of her husband’s flag-draped casket, Katherine Cathey broke into uncontrollable sobs, finding support in the arms of Major Steve Beck. When Beck first knocked on her door to notify her of her husband’s death, she glared at him, cursed him, and refused to speak to him for more than an hour. Over the next several days, he helped guide her through the grief. By the time they reached the tarmac, she wouldn’t let go.

Minutes after her husband’s casket arrived at the Reno airport, Katherine Cathey fell onto the flag. When 2nd Lt. James Cathey left for Iraq, he wrote a letter to Katherine that read, in part, “there are no words to describe how much I love you, and will miss you. I will also promise you one thing: I will be home. I have a wife and a new baby to take care of, and you guys are my world.”

Marine Major Steve Beck prepares for the final inspection of 2nd Lt. James J. Cathey’s body, only days after notifying Cathey’s wife of the Marine’s death in Iraq. The knock at the door begins a ritual steeped in tradition more than two centuries old; a tradition based on the same tenet: “Never leave a Marine behind.”

Inside the mortuary, Katherine Cathey draped herself over her husband’s casket before putting personal items in it. Flowers from their wedding, a bottle of Jim’s favorite perfume and an ultrasound of their son were some of the things Katherine placed next to 2nd Lt. James Cathey’s remains.

Because James Cathey was killed in a massive explosion, his body was delicately wrapped in a shroud by military morticians, then his Marine uniform was laid atop his body. Since Katherine Cathey decided not to view her husband’s body, Maj. Steve Beck took her hand, and pressed it down on the uniform. “He’s here,” he said quietly. “Feel right here.”

The night before the burial of her husband’s body, Katherine Cathey refused to leave the casket, asking to sleep next to his body for the last time. The Marines made a bed for her, tucking in the sheets below the flag. Before she fell asleep, one of the Marines asked if she wanted them to continue standing watch as she slept. “I think it would be kind of nice if you kept doing it,” she said. “I think that’s what he would have wanted.”

The night before the burial of her husband’s body, Katherine Cathey refused to leave the casket, asking to sleep next to his body for the last time. The Marines made a bed for her, tucking in the sheets below the flag. Before she fell asleep, she opened her laptop computer and played songs that reminded her of “Cat,” and one of the Marines asked if she wanted them to continue standing watch as she slept. “I think it would be kind of nice if you kept doing it,” she said. “I think that’s what he would have wanted.”

For three days straight, Marines stood watch over the body of 2nd Lt. James Cathey, taking periodic breaks in a room within the mortuary, where Staff Sgt. David Rubio rubbed his eyes after a nap. Rubio was sent to represent the Marines from the University of Colorado, where he first met Cathey. “I’ve never stood that kind of duty,” Rubio said. “When you’re in college, you’re so detached from what’s happening in Iraq … The more we talk about it the harder it seems to get.”

The day before the funeral of their friend, 2nd Lt. Jon Mueller, left, and 1st Lt. Matthew Baumann practiced for hours folding a flag, making sure there would be no errors the next day. “That will be the last time his flag is folded,” said Maj. Steve Beck, as he instructed them. “It has to be perfect.”

Katherine Cathey pressed her pregnant belly to her husband’s casket, moaning softly. The baby, born Dec. 22, 2005, was named James Jeffrey Cathey, Jr.

As his son’s funeral neared, Jeff Cathey’s tears rarely stopped. He often found comfort in the men who shared his son’s uniform. “Someone asked me what I learned from my son,” he said. “He taught me you need more than one friend.”

Before the burial of James Cathey’s body, his casket was covered with the white gloves of the Marines who carried him, along with sand they brought from the beaches of Iwo Jima, and a single red rose.

Enough said.  Have a great day and enjoy whatever liberty you have remaining!


13 Responses to “More of the story on Katherine Cathey, Marine 1st Lt. Cathey’s wife”

  1. Thank you for your sacrifice. Thank You and your family. 2nd lieutenant James Cathey.

  2. This is an amazing story of sacrifice. Heart wrenching and very emotional. God bless all of you, God bless his wife and baby.

  3. Thank you for your sacrifice! We cannot thank any military personnel enough for their service. Thank you! I am so sorry for your loss!

  4. Thank u sooo much for sharing! <3

  5. Someone posted a picture of Mrs. Cathey lying next to 2nd Lt.James Cathey’s casket!!! People responded to the post and some thought it was fake, well i had to research myself to see if it was real and OMG i have been crying for hours!!! This is the most touching story i have ever came across and brought me to my knees!!…RIP 2nd Lt. James Cathey, i’m sure you have a beautiful son to look down upon as his Guardian Angel!!!……AMEN

  6. This is the most touching story I have ever read. Thank you so much for your sacrifice I’m struggling here with what to say , god bless, this story will stay with me for a long time. 2nd Lt.James Cathey you are a hero and that will live on in your son.

  7. I don’t cry easily but tears are rolling down my face as I type this reply. My heart goes out to you and you son. God Bless you, your son and your husband that gave his life for his country.

  8. Oh my as I read this story and look at the pictures, I am in tears and sure can see the pain in his families eyes. I am so sorry for your loss and wanted to take a minute and say Thank you for protecting our freedom.. Hope your Resting in Peace. This Memorial Day I will diffently say a prayer for all our fallen soliders :(

  9. I cannot imagine going through that.my 19 yr old boy just joined as in boot camp now.this really hits the spot.ifeel so bad for Katherine.my heart goes out to her and both familes of 2nd lt James Cathey.omg the tears are rolling.the sacrifices a marine family has to endure.

  10. Thank you so much for sharing!, love is beautiful, death is sad, it is difficult to be able to accept it.

  11. May God bless and keep you all in His grace. Thank you all for serving our Country with your very lives at times. There can be NO GREATER HONOR than to sacrifice oneself for the better of others. God Bless ALL those who serve, and all those families of those who serve, especially those who wait at home hoping and praying for their loved one to return some day alive, but so often… don’t.

    HUGE HUGGS to Katherine, and the Cathey family.

    This video broke my heart, but I am so glad to have witnessed it. Such sadness and pain of heart reminds me, that my heart is alive and well, because it cares enough to be broken by such tragedies.

    To the soldiers past and present… I Salute you ALL !!!

    Sincerely, and heartfully, Nicholas in Seattle

  12. Very moving my hopes and thoughts are with his wife son and family
    Rest in peace

  13. what a beautiful story. I send all my thoughts and prayers to Katherine and her son.

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