KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A celebration of life and service. A local military family has been invited to make a pick at the 2023 NFL Draft in honor of their loved one who was killed in action.
Family said Bernie Deghand was an avid Kansas City Chiefs fan. Their family had season tickets and went to as many games as they could.
On Friday, Deghand’s son, Craig Thurber, will take the stage and make the third-round pick for the Chiefs, thinking of his biggest fan — his father.
“It’s a way to honor him,” Thurber said. “It’s a way to keep his legacy moving on.”
The NFL Commissioner, along with the family, will be wearing a pin with Deghand’s picture. He’s gone, but never forgotten.
Deghand was killed in Afghanistan 17 years ago.
He was a master sergeant with the Kansas Army National Guard. During his 22-year career, Deghand received many awards, including the purple heart.
Spouse Lisa remembers him as a great father of three. Deghand attended his daughter’s volleyball games and track meets.
He also coached Craig in football. At the funeral, his former players wore their jerseys. He made a big impact on many people in Mayetta, Kansas.
“He was like the core of our family. involved in all the kids’ stuff,” Lisa Deghand said. “Just the heart of the family.”
“You never know when grief’s going to creep up on you. It can hit you at any moment,” Thurber said. “So to have some relationships along the way to be able to reach out to helps quite a bit.”
Thurber said joining the TAPS community helped. The care for families of fallen service members so that survivors never feel like they’re walking alone.
“Whether it’s been seven days, seven weeks, seven months or 17 years,” Diana Hosford said. “We’ll always be here regardless of what a survivor needs. We’ll meet them right where they are, and for this family, this opportunity for the draft, it’s pretty exciting. We’re happy to come to them, in their hometown and celebrate their family with their favorite team, the Chiefs.”
“It’s great to know that people are honoring him, and we’re not the only ones. We do have TAPS on our shirt, so we also get to honor the whole TAPS family who have lost a loved one in the line of duty,” Thurber said. “So we get to honor our loved one and others.”
While Thurber is grateful for the opportunity to keep his father’s memory alive in front of 100,000 fans, he’s nervous about naming one of the newest players in the NFL.
“It’s something I never thought I would experience, anxious to say the least, not to butcher the name of somebody up there,” Thurber said. “But it’s cool to get up there and honor our loved one and honor other loved ones.”
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