Mariann G. Wizard : Danger Found Code Blue

Cody Ryan Patterson on graduation day from basic training. Family photo.

Army Spec. Cody Ryan Patterson:
Danger found him in his own home

He was a proud, happy soldier of the Imperium when he died, had never been under hostile fire nor killed another human being.

By Mariann G. Wizard / The Rag Blog / October 19, 2009

Those of you who read The Rag Blog compulsively, even unto the Comments, may have seen one or two such in which I’ve mentioned, without naming him completely, my nephew from North Central Texas, serving with the U.S. Army in Iraq.

Army Spec. Cody Ryan Patterson corresponded with his Auntie M. a bit, when he had Internet access. He sent me a piece of spam at one point, an arrogant, militaristic set of instructions to U.S. civilians on how service personnel should be treated when encountered here at home; it basically said that if a person had some issue with the mission, to keep it to him or herself or risk an “ass-kicking.”

I wrote back that I would turn Cody Ryan over my knee when he was home on leave! “If you’re not over there protecting my right to think and say what my conscience tells me, buster, you shouldn’t be wearing the uniform!”

He came right back at me, like a (very young) man, having what may have been one of his first sustained intellectual arguments with an adult relative. I sent him a Rag Blog story about Army resister Victor Agosto, and he was totally appalled by it; felt that Victor must be a coward and was glad he didn’t have anyone who felt that way in his unit, since they would be a danger to him.

He argued for duty and contractual obligation, and I argued for individual responsibility. But we ended each e-mail with hugs and kisses, reminders of the bond we shared.

Cody and I met when my youngest brother married his Mom, who came to us with a son and a daughter. He was a bright, mischievous, totally typical brown-eyed boy, and, like his sister and little-brother-to-come, an outgoing, affectionate kid who never said “Good-bye” to his aunts or his grandma without also saying, “I love you,” and giving a hearty kiss and hug. My affectionate nickname for him became “Code Blue,” for some reason I no longer recall.

He was a natural-born fisherman, but was allergic to fish. I bought him a copy of the first Harry Potter book when it was published, at the apparently perfect time to spark his interest in reading for a while, but it didn’t last. After my brother and Cody’s Mom split up, not what you’d call amicably, I didn’t see much of him.

Later, with no college-oriented funds, prospects, or ambitions, he left high school and went to work, but couldn’t find a job in Hill or Johnson counties that paid enough to get his own place, buy a reliable truck, and do the other things young men need to do. He would have gone to the Marines, but an old eye injury kept him out, and the Army got him instead.

Cody came home on leave a week ago. He was to have deployed to Afghanistan on Oct. 28. I’d hoped to see him and hug his neck before he left Texas again. But danger found him at 5 a.m. Saturday morning in his mother’s house in Blum. Cody was killed by someone he trusted. It was not a member of his family. The murder appears to have been premeditated, and a young woman has been arrested in connection with the crime

Cody was Army strong. He made it to the door of his mother’s room before collapsing against it, calling, “I’ve been shot” as he fell. Cody was dead before the ambulance and the police arrived. His sister and his Mom’s boyfriend both did CPR on him but to no avail.

I could go into a lot more detail here about the regular rural po’folks who are my family, could make it seem even more sordid, senseless, sad. But what is the difference, for a 20-year old boy-man, in dying in a village quarrel in Texas or in one halfway around the world, in somebody else’s village? What is the difference in hearing your son’s last gasps as he dies in your arms and in imagining them every night he is in harm’s way?

Army recruiters sealed their deal with Cody when they had him come to see them in Ft. Worth and put him up on the next-to-penthouse floor of a downtown hotel. He’d never been that far off the ground before.

After basic training, he called my brother, his former step-dad, to thank him for his efforts in requiring young Cody to be responsible, to do chores, and for extensive camping and hunting experiences; he felt infinitely more prepared than some of the guys he’d met in basic, who apparently cried for their blankies at night and ain’t never kilt a rabbit.

He was a proud, happy soldier of the Imperium when he died, had never been under hostile fire nor killed another human being.

No one in Cody’s family can escape knowing that whatever facts may emerge, the young woman arrested is somebody’s child, and also somebody’s mother. We’re not naive enough to seek “closure,” or imagine that further tragedy will mitigate this one. But we will be looking for justice. That may be the only real difference between Blum and any hamlet of 300 souls in “Afraq.”

Some Rag Blog readers who’d read about my recent exchanges with Cody expressed good wishes for his upcoming deployment, that he would come home OK, with both his life and his sacred honor intact. I appreciated those good wishes for this good kid, and wanted to let you know, as his Mom reportedly said yesterday in her grief, that we “don’t have to worry for him anymore.”

[Editor’s note: This article has been revised, and a portion redacted, at the author’s request, due to concerns from the immediate family and in the interest of a continuing criminal investigation.

In the words of Mariann Wizard: “Last night, I made a mistake. I allowed speculation to creep into an otherwise factual story about my nephew’s life and death. I should have waited before submitting this article, should have run it by Cody’s family first, and I apologize for not having done so. I let my emotions carry me away. Thanks to all those who responded.”]

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14 Responses to Mariann G. Wizard : Danger Found Code Blue

  1. Anonymous says:

    Gosh, Mariann, what shock you must feel. Very sorry for your and your family’s loss of your dear nephew. Our hearts go out to you all.

    – L. Piltz

  2. RealBill says:

    Mariann,
    I too am sorry for the loss.
    I also regret that so often our cultures; personal, national and world seek violent rather that civil resolutions to conflict. This tragedy reminds us that we must continue to work for and demand peace, community and simple human decency for/from ourselves and for the world. Keep that faith.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I am sorry for your families loss. He was a soldier in the brigade my husband is in, in IRAQ. We did not know him, but our prayers go with his family.

  4. Bob Sam says:

    A sad reminder that any and all deaths are very real to those who are close. The distancing of death in our current wars reduces each one to just another digit in the toll.

    But, each one will affect dozens of others for the rest of their lives whether it is a uniformed soldier in the line of duty or some poor Haji dying in front of his family at a checkpoint because he didn’t respond properly or fast enough to orders shouted at him in English.

    Each individual death is a tragedy in the celebration of life. The First Rule of The Mondoshawan is “Protect Life.”

    We could do a lot worse than to accept and live by that one rule.

  5. juliehowell says:

    Mariann, I can’t tell you how sorry I am for this to have happened. I wanted you to know that you ecohed a piece I wrote in response to Charles Whitman, comparing being under his assault to life in Vietnam where people were under assault every day, and I wanted to thank you for validating my analogy. Please let me know if I can do anything.

    Julie Howell

  6. Anonymous says:

    Mariann,
    I’m so sorry for your loss. I remember you from UT, especially the Capitol the day after MLK’s death. You were a brave inspiration on that day, as you still are.
    On it goes, the violence and crazy behavior that follows.
    My sincere condolences to you and your family.
    Cody Ryan Patterson may you RIP
    Phil Sigmund

  7. masterspork says:

    My deepest condolences on your loss. I know I have been very vocal as far as subjects relating to the military, but this is something where politics are to be put aside for another day.

    Best wishes and thought go out to you and your entire family.

  8. Anonymous says:

    So sorry for you all. A terrible loss, such a tragedy, it breaks my heart. My prayers go out to the the family.
    Angela/Glen Rose, TX.

  9. Anonymous says:

    M – This morning I read the small article in the American Statesman about Cody’s tragic death and wept with you. I hope that your gifts of writing, poetry, and the spoken word will keep his spirit alive and persuade the rest of us to love one another NOW – not just in theory but in our actions.
    Chris

  10. Anonymous says:

    I Served Along side Cody In Iraq. He was a Good Kid, Hardheaded, and one Hell of a Scout. He will be missed greatly and never replaced on the team. My Condolences to you and your family. Hopefully you can find peace in the Darkness. From your Army Family Scouts Out

  11. PowerPoint Ranger says:

    You have my deepest condolences on the loss of Cody, and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers during such a time of grief.

  12. Mariann Wizard says:

    Thanks so much to all who have written — I am deeply mortified that my original report contained substantial factual errors. Amazing how fast the rumor mill can crank up in a small town, and how far it can diverge from the truth! I am very grateful that Rag Blog readers have offered condolences without judgment!

    It is especially gratifying to see the comments of those who knew Cody as a serviceman, and to know that he was so well-liked (not a surprise) and respected in that role.

    When Code was about 8 and his younger brother about 5, I was living with their step-Grandma (my Mom) on her small farm. My brother brought the kids by one day, and Cody had his new BB-gun with him. He and his brother asked if they could go out looking for rabbits, and were given permission to do so. We watched from the living room window, laughing hilariously as the boys solemnly made their way toward the barn and open field beyond in full “hunt mode”, BB-gun over Cody’s shoulder — while a big, curious cottontail hopped quietly from bush to bush BEHIND them, following until they were out of sight!

    Thanks again for the expressions of care and concern.

  13. Old Tanker says:

    I’m sorry to hear of your loss, especially after his having made it home safely from overseas. My condolences to the family, and my appreciation for his service

  14. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for your honesty and for your personal accounts of Cody. He was a member of the 4th Brigade, 1st Armor Division, and in the 2-13 Cav Battalion. Thus Unit is currently serving in southern Iraq on a 12th month tour.

    Regardless of the how you feel about his choice of occupation and his loyalty to his commitment, we should all be proud of his dedication and pray for his soul and for those he left behind…blood relatives and those he touched with his dedication – including the soldiers who have lost a valuable member of their Team.

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