On Feb. 20, 2008, Marie Mackey-Fahey and her three children had to face chilling news. Mackey-Fahey’s husband, Staff Sergeant Bryant Wayne Mackey, died in Mosul, Iraq when a rocket propelled grenade struck his tank.
Six and a half years prior, in August 2001, Bryant Mackey joined the Army National Guard and left for boot camp. Once he graduated boot camp, he was assigned to a unit out of Emporia, Kan. and, after six months, Mackey applied to go Active Duty. He was assigned his first duty station at Fort Hood, Texas, where he became a crewman on the M1A1 Tank. Mackey’s unit deployed to Iraq in 2004. The unit conducted combat operations in the volatile section of Baghdad, Sadr City, for 15 months. Once home from deployment, Mackey was assigned to Fort Knox and then, again, to Fort Hood in 2007. Mackey was assigned to the 3rd Armored Calvary Regiment and deployed to Mosul, Iraq in October 2007.
Known to both his subordinates and leaders as the quiet professional, Mackey never failed to put the safety of his soldiers before his own. Mackey was a selfless leader and was often described by his leaders as one of the hardest working Non-Commissioned Officers. These leaders were honored to serve by his side. Mackey was awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and Meritorious Service Medal for his outstanding commitment to his soldiers, to duty, to the Army and the United States of America.
Almost nine years later, on Nov. 6, 2016, Mackey-Fahey stood on the field at the Kansas City Chiefs' Arrowhead Stadium with representatives from Grantham University to accept the Gold Star Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship honors the ultimate sacrifice Mackey-Fahey’s late husband made for his country, with the hopes that people remember and recognize just how much Mackey truly loved his job, family and his military family.
We had a chance to sit down with Mackey-Fahey to hear her thoughts on this experience and get to know her a little bit better as a Grantham University student. Here is what she had to say:
Grantham University: What does receiving this scholarship mean to you?
Marie Mackey-Fahey: I am so very grateful for this wonderful opportunity; it makes me so grateful and happy that there are still people and organizations that care and are willing to help and support Gold Stars families, and that their sacrifices are not forgotten and will not be forgotten.
GU: What impact has the military had on your life?
MMF: Military is still a huge part of my life. I have several families that I’m still in contact with even after Bryant’s death. I feel very grateful for those friendships.
GU: Tell us a little about your background growing up?
MMF: I grew up on a farm and went to very small school. There were nine in my graduating class. Living on a farm taught me my work ethic. I didn’t have a great family life growing up, so it’s important to me today to give my kids the love and support that I didn’t have growing up.
GU: What would you like people to know about your current husband?
MMF: My husband Russ is amazing. I can’t express how much love and respect I have for him. He has stepped up and loves my children as his own, even when it’s not always been easy. He always supports me and our children. Russ and I have two little boys, Caleb and Tyler, who have brought so much joy, laughter, smiles and love to our family. Russ’s love for me and our family is one of the many blessings that I have. I couldn’t imagine where my life would be if I hadn’t met him.
GU: What are you most excited about for your Grantham experience?
MMF: I’m excited that I can continue to work and go to school, and still have time for my family.
GU: What degree program do you plan to pursue? Why?
MMF: A Bachelor’s degree in Business Management. After talking to my admissions representative, we both agreed I would benefit from business management. My goals are to improve my writing skills and to gain more computer knowledge.
GU: What have some of the biggest challenges been to get to this point in life?
MMF: To not focus on tragedy, but to look forward to the future.
GU: What is one of your greatest accomplishments?
MMF: My family, and my ability to not give up and to keep moving forward. I try to help others who may be hurting and help them see that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
GU: What are your goals now?
MMF: To improve my skills for my current job and to get the college degree that I have talked about getting for years, but haven’t.
GU: What are some of your passions in life?
MMF: I love cooking and spending time with my family. I love when I have the chance to be creative with flowers, crafts and DIY projects.
GU: If someone were to write your story, what would be the most important thing for them to include?
That no matter how much life tries to knock you down, you get up and you try again.
Find Out How Grantham Can Support You
At Grantham, we want to be a part of your journey with you, just like we are able to do with Mackey-Fahey. If you are ready to begin your academic journey and start a new chapter in life, contact us today.
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