On Sunday, we start “For Alex,” a seven-part series about a family’s search for answers about the Iraq War and whether their son, Sgt. Alex Funcheon who was killed April 29, 2007, by a roadside bomb, died for nothing.
Their search led them to a meeting with President Bush aboard Air Force One after he dedicated a youth center in Wichita and into the life of a wounded soldier, who survived because Alex’s body had shielded him from the blast inside the Humvee.
Roy Wenzl met the Funcheon family after he wrote about President Bush’s visit to Wichita June 15, 2007, during which Bush met with the Funcheons — Bob and Karen and their daughter, Gloria. The Funcheons said they wanted to keep their conversation with the president private and politely declined to talk to Wenzl.
But they also thought their story might benefit other soldiers and their families by underscoring how they wanted the war to be meaningful.
Over several months, Wenzl spoke with the family and with soldiers who had served in Iraq with Alex.
He read diary entries of Alex’s sister, the e-mails between Alex and his family, and accompanied Bob to the cemetery for one of his graveside talks with his son.
They shared intimate details.
Bob talked about the pain of never getting to meet the man his son eventually became.
Gloria talked about how her mother retreated to the bathroom every day and turned on the fan thinking no one could hear her sobbing.
On Kansas.com, you can read Wenzl’s account of why he wrote the story.
It’s a story we hope resonates with readers as the country continues to debate the war in Iraq.
As Wenzl wrote on the online account, the story is “ not only about what people did and said, but what they thought about four men dying one day in a war where the purpose and meaning will be talked about for decades to come.”