A Sacrifice, And A Gift To The Troops

Maureen O'Haire lost a son in Iraq - and now she's showing his platoon the ultimate support.
Maureen O'Haire of Rockland, Mass., supports the troops, and not in the patronizing, bumper-sticker sort of way. She really supports the troops.

Specifically, the Marines, CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman reports.

And in particular, a platoon of soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment based at Camp Lejeune, N.C. O'Haire has given them so much - starting with her son.

Last year, just before his 21st birthday, Lance Cpl. Walter O'Haire was killed in Iraq.

"God has a date we come in and a date we leave," O'Haire said. "And Wally did what he had to do and it was time to go back."

Obviously, you can't ask for anything more from a Gold Star mom. But that proud Irish woman wanted to give more anyway.

Using the $20,000 death benefit she got from the government, O'Haire offered to fly the whole platoon for a St. Patrick's Day bash in Boston. She welcomed them like family … exactly like family.

"You bring all that mud in my house I'm kicking your ass," she said to one of the Marines.

"They come into my home and they're just like having my other kids around," she told Hartman.

O'Haire is widowed with eight other kids. She certainly had plenty of other ways to use that $20,000 - and yet she chose to spend it on the boys her son served with - for three days she put them up in a nice hotel, and took them all to church with her.

And she made sure they got the royal treatment wherever they went. She even got 'em a spot in the big Boston St. Patrick's Day parade.

Did they have a good time? What do you think?

"I was amazed," one of the Marines said. "I mean this is just overwhelming."

"She's probably one of the most amazing women I've ever met in my life," another said. "If a mother can cope with such a loss so well, I know I can do it too."

It's the message - the gift - O'Haire was hoping these boys would leave with.

"Men and women leave the service and they're very hurt because they lost good friends. And I don't want these guys to regret that Wally died," If these guys walk away and they remember Wally and not grieve - it will make me happy."

  • Steve Hartman

    Steve Hartman has been a CBS News correspondent since 1998, having served as a part-time correspondent for the previous two years.