Perrysburg soldier dies in AfghanistanWritten by Betsy Woodruff | | email@example.com
When soldiers arrived at Don and Sharon Belkofer’s front door on May 18 and told them that their son, Tom, had been killed in Afghanistan, they didn’t believe it. They didn’t even know he was there.
“You think you’re in another world,” Sharon said. “You think you’re in a movie watching something like this happen.”
Don and Sharon tried to persuade the soldiers that they had come to the wrong house; their son wasn’t even in Afghanistan. He wasn’t going to be deployed until October.
The soldiers almost believed them. But the truth was, Lieutenant Colonel Thomas P. Belkofer of Perrysburg had been sent to Afghanistan for two weeks for advance training so he could better lead his men when they arrived in October.
He was killed when enemy forces attacked his convoy with a vehicle-born improvised explosive device. He left behind his wife, Margo, and daughters Alyssa, 15, and Ashley, 11.
His father, Don, said that of his three children (all boys), Tom, the middle kid, was the most outspoken.
“Tom always let you know how he felt,” he said.
“He had a very strong sense of right and wrong,” added Sharon, saying that he would challenge anything he thought was wrong. This could often be perceived as his trying to buck the system.
He flourished at the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC), in which he enrolled while attending BGSU. He met his wife in ROTC and graduated with a degree in architectural design.
His father called him a “jack of all trades.”
“We used to laugh about it,” he said.
“He was full of life,” Sharon said. “Everything he did, he did to the utmost.”
She described him as happy-go-lucky, remembering his dimples.
She also said Tom believed strongly in what America was doing in Afghanistan. She said he held a deep respect for the Afghani culture, but also hoped the people he worked with would be able to learn from the West. During his first deployment, from 2005-2006, he helped with the process of setting up an Afghani financial system so government employees — including soldiers –– could get paid. At that time, most Afghanis did not have bank accounts. Tom wanted to show people how they could save the money they earned.
He would tell his parents stories about Afghanis he met who would become committed to the U.S. Army, going out of their way to protect the American soldiers.
Don and Sharon said they hope people will remember Tom’s love for his country, dedication to his family, and faith in God; he was always an active church member.
He once told his wife that if he died early in life, he hoped it would be while fighting for his country.
He always told his parents not to worry about him, downplaying the risks of his work.
They struggle with the grief.
“It’s very tough,” Don said.
“You get angry, you want to take it out on somebody,” Sharon said. “You hurt. You cry. You never get to see them again. But there’s so much pride, as well.”
“We just have to leave it in God’s hands,” she concluded.
Congressman Robert E. Latta issued the following statement: “Our thoughts and prayers are with LTC Belkofer’s family, friends, and fellow soldiers as they mourn his loss. LTC Belkofer was a true hero, as he fought to protect the security and peace of the United States. LTC Belkofer’s death is a stark reminder that the freedoms and liberties we hold dear as a nation come at the highest price, and we will never forget LTC Belkofer’s ultimate sacrifice for our country.”