CHESTER — Nobody named Moss or Hoagland six of them in the U.S. Army from one family in Chester died in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that are finally almost over.
But the youngest soldier in the family, the only girl who cried so many times from eyes over her freckles and under her flaming red hair as she watched those four brothers and stepfather leave for wars has died after those wars.
York and Chester counties, and America, watched Rachel Moss cry and grow up as her family went to war. Then she readied to go herself.
She enlisted in 2012, at age 18, after her four brothers and stepfather had spent tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. She died Tuesday after a seizure at home, her mother said.
We lost our baby, said a distraught Bonnie Hoagland. Rachel was always there for everyone. Her childhood was these wars, and her brothers and her stepfather.
On July 3, 2012, Rachel took the oath of enlistment that her brothers and stepfather had taken before her. She wanted to be a military police officer, maybe become a crime scene investigator.
I felt it was my time to serve, like my brothers and my father, Rachel said that day, through tears. She cried not for her leaving home, but because she so loved an America that she wanted to fight for it.
Rachel never was sent to overseas. An ankle injury forced her medical discharge, and she came home to her family.
And now, two months after turning 20, she is gone.
She became sick Tuesday morning and was rushed to the hospital in Chester. A helicopter was dispatched a chopper, no different than the medical evacuation copters her stepfather and brothers loaded soldiers onto so many times in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Rachel died before the helicopter got to her.
Chester County Coroner Terry Tinker said an autopsy will be performed to determine the medical cause, but he ruled Rachels death a natural death.
In other words, a death that happens every day in Chester County and America.
Yet there is nothing common about Rachel Moss or her military family that has shown this area, and America, what love for community and country truly is.
This Moss and Hoagland family is America.
A family goes to war
In February 2003, Rachels mother married Chris Hoagland five days before he was set to leave for Iraq with his Fort Mill Army National Guard unit.
Before Hoagland got on the bus that would take him to war, Rachel, then 9 and so tiny, cried and hugged her stepfather. Those were the days when nobody knew if the Iraqis would use chemical or biological weapons, or nukes, or whatever.
It was a cold, rainy, terrifying day.
The Heralds photograph depicting her saying goodbye to her stepfather was later seen all over America.
In the years since, Rachels four brothers Chad, Justin, Bradley and Clayton Moss all enlisted. Chad, Justin and Bradley were in the same Army National Guard unit as their stepfather. All served in Iraq, Afghanistan or both.
All of Rachels brothers married before leaving for combat.
The 2006-07 deployment of the Fort Mill unit to Afghanistan meant the family was serving in war in the same unit at the same time. Chad, the oldest, was wounded.
Clayton, the youngest son, joined the active duty Army and is still in. He has served in combat.
Chris Hoagland and Bradley Moss then were deployed again to Afghanistan, returning in late 2010.
All the Moss sons and Hoagland have been honored by the Army for combat bravery and leadership. Hoagland, in civilian life now, still serves veterans at the York County Veterans Affairs Office.
What service is all about
And now, after so much sacrifice, this family of soldiers somehow has to find the money for burial expenses.
This family all of them have given so much, said Joe Medlin, director of the York County Veterans Affairs Office and the command sergeant major for the 178th Combat Engineer Battalion, which includes units in Fort Mill and Rock Hill.
Medlin has set up an account at First Citizens Bank to help pay for those funeral costs. Other friends have set up a donation site at gofundme.com.
The five soldiers in this family served combat tours, Medlin said. And Bonnie and Rachel were there for them through it all. This family is what service and patriotism is all about.
After The Heralds extensive coverage of the family the weddings before leaving, the devotion to country, the emotion of so many departures, the worrying the country met this family of soldiers.
Including Rachel Moss the little sister with the red hair and freckles.
The wars trickled to an end, but Rachel did not change her mind about wanting to serve. She enlisted just three weeks after graduating from Chester High School that hot July day in 2012. Her brother Clayton was in combat in the desert of Afghanistan the day she enlisted.
Rachel didnt get to live her dream of advancing in the Army, of becoming a military police officer. She never went to war.
But like her four brothers and her stepfather, she would have gone. Rachel and her mother became national symbols for what wars really do to families take the men and leave the mother and wife and sister terrified each night as the news comes in of soldiers dead and wounded.
Politicians decide if wars will be fought. The decisions are made by people whose only danger is missing lunch or getting re-elected.
The wars are fought by people like Chris Hoagland and Chad Moss and Justin Moss and Bradley Moss and Clayton Moss.
The war at home is fought by each of their wives, who prayed for each to come home intact and alive.
Those wars were fought by the wife and mother, Bonnie Hoagland.
And those wars were fought by the little sister, Rachel.
All those soldiers in the family gathered Wednesday and spoke about how people knew them after so many deployments, and how they knew Rachel, too. The 178th Battalion chaplain led all in a prayer. The soldiering Moss sons and Chris Hoagland, stood there with their wives and kids and their tears.
She touched countless lives, Bradley Moss said. She was great.
When Rachel enlisted in the Army last summer, she said she had the best reason anybody ever needed:
Because I love America and want to serve my country. That is what we do in my family. We serve America. I love my country.