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It was Aug. 1, 2008, when Cindy Lohman’s son died. Ryan Baumann, a U.S. Army sergeant, was responding to what he thought was a “credible report” that one of the schools his 101st Airborne troop was protecting had fallen under Taliban attack in Afghanistan. He was killed by an IED — an improvised explosive device.

“He was a natural-born leader,” said Lohman. “But he’s gone, and now he’s forcing me into that world.”

Lohman, a nurse from Great Mills, is scheduled to speak today, Sept. 27, at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, at 7:25 a.m., at the flag pole of the parade field. The event also will include a 21-gun salute, a moment of silence and flag raising. The base is honoring Gold Star Mothers Day, which honors mothers who lost a son or daughter in the military. Many of those moms are members of American Gold Star Mothers Inc. Lohman is first vice president of Maryland’s chapter.

They send care packages to troops. Lay wreaths on memorials. Visit burial sites. “We do things to support veterans, active duty and promote patriotism,” Lohman said.

But the group also is there for support, Lohman said. “You don’t have to explain yourself to people ... They’ve been through something similar,” she said. “There’s a comfort in that — in having that similarity and in being able to do for others.”

As for dealing with the loss, she said, “there are some really rotten days and it’s some that are not so rotten.” But talking about it all helps people heal. “As you start to move through that grief, you have to find a purpose. You have to figure out how to reach out and move forward.”

Part of that includes building relationships throughout their military family, Lohman said. Today’s speech at Pax River is a chance to enhance support of moms whose sons and daughters died while serving in the Navy.

And Pax River Commanding Officer Ben Shevchuk welcomes them. “We want to honor our gold star mothers and show our support for the families of our fallen brothers and sisters in arms,” he said by email. “It’s important for our gold star mothers to know how much their son’s or daughter’s sacrifice has done to secure the values that define us as Americans.”

nclark@somdnews.com