Video: Last words for a family

By Don Teague Correspondent
NBC News
updated 2/23/2005 5:34:08 PM ET 2005-02-23T22:34:08

Before deploying earlier this year, Sergeant First Class David Salie was certain of two things: Serving in Iraq was the right thing to do and he wouldn't survive his tour. He shared that premonition with his wife weeks before he left.

"He rolled over and looked at me and he said, 'D, I'm not coming back,'" recalls Deanna Salie.

Sadly, David Salie's prediction came true. He was killed in a roadside bombing on Valentine's Day, just four days into his Iraq tour. His children and wife are now mourning a terrible loss.

"I am a little mad at him for leaving me, because I don't know how to live without David," says Deanna.

But Sgt. Salie knew one more thing — that he should tell his family how much he loved them, in a way they could never forget.

"If you're seeing this, then I'm not coming home," begins a videotape Sgt. Salie made the night before he left.

He secretly recorded messages for them with instructions to view the video only if he didn't return.

"You're without a daddy — in person — but I'm always with you. You're without a husband — in person — but I'm always with you," says David on the tape.

It's an eternal message of love from a husband and father to his family. There are other recordings for future milestones, like graduations and weddings he won't be there to share.

But there was a bigger message for the present.

"The price was worth it, in my heart," says David on the video. "What I have done was the right thing to do."

Because everyone who loved David Salie knew that he believed in America and was willing to give his life fighting for Iraqi's to share American freedom. Deanna believes that too.

"He sent word to a lot of the single soldiers' families," she says. "He said, 'Don't worry about your son, I'll stand in front of him.' There are a lot of little girls and little boys who are without their parents. And we're making those sacrifices to make their lives better."

David's father, Jim, agrees.

"My son died doing what he loved," he says. "He knew what the consequences were."

On Thursday, David's brother — an Army captain currently serving in Iraq — returned to Fort Benning to present the traditional flag to his mother.

There were no words for the family's sorrow, but they know David doesn't regret his sacrifice — because he said so.

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