Message of Love From Fallen Hero

This is a partial transcript from "On the Record," March 21, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: It has been two years since the beginning of the war in Iraq. In that time, more than 1,500 American troops have died. One of those heroic soldiers was SFC David Salie.

Sergeant Salie was killed on Valentine's Day after serving nearly 17 years in the Army. Sergeant Salie's wife, Deanna, and his daughter Chyna join us now from Atlanta, welcome to both of you.

Deanna, first my condolences both to you and your daughter, you have other children don't you Deanna?

DEANNA SALIE, WIFE OF SOLDIER DAVID SALIE: Yes. We have two boys. Luke is six and Hunter is two.

VAN SUSTEREN: Deanna, what was your husband like?

D. SALIE: He wasn't perfect, I'm not going to say that but he was a wonderful father. He was a wonderful husband and he was the type of man that he had a warrior spirit but he had a father's heart.

VAN SUSTEREN: Chyna, have you seen the videotape that your father left for the family?


VAN SUSTEREN: What do you think about that tape?

C. SALIE: I think that he did it for the right reasons that he believed that he did go and I think that it was great that he did that. I'm very glad that he did. I'll always have a piece of my dad with me.

VAN SUSTEREN: How often do you watch that tape, Chyna?

C. SALIE: I don't know, a couple days ago.

VAN SUSTEREN: Deanna, is there just one tape or are there a few tapes that he made for different people?

D. SALIE: I'm sorry, could you repeat that?

VAN SUSTEREN: Is there only one tape that he left for your family or did he make several tapes?

D. SALIE: There are two DVDs but he made one for each of our children for right now. The boys are actually too young to watch it. He made one for their 16th, 18th, 21st birthday, their wedding days and their first babies and he left one for me.

VAN SUSTEREN: Deanna, I mean he was in the Army a long time, wasn't he?

D. SALIE: Seventeen and a half years.

VAN SUSTEREN: And he'd been to the Persian Gulf War, right?

D. SALIE: Right and he was in Haiti and the invasion of Panama.

VAN SUSTEREN: Did he ever leave any other tape or a DVD or anything else? I mean or was this unusual that before he went to Iraq he did it this time?

D. SALIE: Well, yes, it was unusual because he told me he never felt like this before. He told me in November that he wasn't coming back and, of course, I told him he was crazy.

But he felt so strongly about it that he told me that he was making the DVDs because if he couldn't be there with his children physically, he was going to be there in any way he could be in the important parts of their lives.

VAN SUSTEREN: And so when did you actually look at the DVD, Deanna?

D. SALIE: The night after he died I watched my DVD, my portion and then later on during the times I watched the kids'. I haven't watched all of them but I've watched the majority of them.

VAN SUSTEREN: What do you tell your children? I mean now you're a widow. I mean how are you going to deal with this?

D. SALIE: I don't know. To be quite honest with you I don't know. I mean I think right now I'm still in a state of shock because David is supposed to be gone, you know. He's supposed to be in Iraq. I think when it actually hits me is when everyone is going to come home but David.

I have three children to take care of and in David's video to me he told me that I needed to be strong for his kids because he wasn't there to do it and — I'm sorry — I needed to hold them is what he told me and that's exactly what I'm doing.

VAN SUSTEREN: Chyna, you're the oldest right?

C. SALIE: Yes, ma'am.

VAN SUSTEREN: You have like a big responsibility to the two younger ones?

C. SALIE: Yes, ma'am.

VAN SUSTEREN: How are you going to do that? What do you intend to do to help your brothers?

C. SALIE: My oldest brother, Lucas, he's six. He understands what's going on. But my youngest brother Hunter, he's two, he still thinks daddy's at work, so I don't know.

VAN SUSTEREN: How old are you, Chyna?

C. SALIE: Eleven.

VAN SUSTEREN: Deanna, what can we do? What can the nation do for you? I mean we all watch this and our heart goes out to you and your family.

D. SALIE: Oh, thank you.

VAN SUSTEREN: I mean what can we do for you? Is there anything?

D. SALIE: You know, I don't know that there's anything that anyone can do. You know the Army has been wonderful to us and I have the best casualty assistance officer that anyone could have asked for. They have actually been wonderful. I couldn't have asked for any better.

What I would hope and one of the reasons I've done this interview is because my husband and I discussed before he left that we're worried the sentiment on the war with the American public was getting kind of sour and we were scared it was going to turn into another Vietnam.

And, if me doing this and speaking for my husband in saying he thought the price was worth it and it saves one soldier or one soldier's family from being spit on or called any kind of names, then it's worth everything that we're doing to try to stop it.

VAN SUSTEREN: How long was your husband in Iraq?

D. SALIE: Four days.

VAN SUSTEREN: And his brother, a West Point graduate, accompanied him home is that right?

D. SALIE: Yes. Right, his brother Brian was in Baghdad.

VAN SUSTEREN: His brother back here in the United States now?

D. SALIE: Actually, no. It's my understanding he's gone back to Baghdad.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, Chyna and Deanna, please stand by. We're going to continue with more in just a minute.

D. SALIE: Thank you.


VAN SUSTEREN: Tonight, it's been two years since the beginning of the war in Iraq. Sergeant Salie was killed on Valentine's Day after serving nearly 17 years in the Army. Sergeant Salie's daughter, Chyna, and his wife Deanna continue with us from Atlanta.

Chyna, what did your dad tell you in this tape?

C. SALIE: He told me that he loves me and he'll always be with me in spirit and that I can succeed in anything that I want to succeed. Don't let anything get in my way.

VAN SUSTEREN: Deanna, in your tape what personal things did he say to you?

D. SALIE: He told me not to become a hermit. He told me he knew I was probably cussing him and that he was sorry for leaving me and that he loved me and that I had to be strong for his kids because he wasn't there to do it for me.

VAN SUSTEREN: Are you going to be a hermit?

D. SALIE: No. I'm trying not to be a hermit actually.

VAN SUSTEREN: Are you cussing him out?

D. SALIE: Continuously, on a regular basis. You know I keep telling him I think it's really, really not fair that he left me with three kids but I'm glad he did though. I'm glad I have them.

VAN SUSTEREN: Deanna, where did you first meet your husband?

D. SALIE: In 1995 and we met over the telephone.

VAN SUSTEREN: What did you think about him when you first met him?

D. SALIE: David was un-describable, you know. I couldn't picture what he was telling me over the phone. He was 6'5" and 230 pounds and, you know, he was this big, strong Army man but, at the same time, he wrote me poetry all the time and he was so intelligent and he was such a history fanatic that he drove us crazy endlessly.

VAN SUSTEREN: Did someone set you up? Was that how the phone call occurred?

D. SALIE: Yes, a girl I grew up with she set us up on the phone and we spoke for like eight hours the very first night.

VAN SUSTEREN: So, I take it you liked him the first night?

D. SALIE: Oh, yes. He intrigued me because he was kind of strange. He was a little strange kind of like I was, yes.

VAN SUSTEREN: And how soon after that phone call did you actually see this guy?

D. SALIE: We spoke for the first time in the beginning of October of '95 and then in January of '96 I flew to Hawaii and we met and we were actually only together 17 days, physically together, before we got married.

VAN SUSTEREN: And, did you get married in Hawaii?

D. SALIE: Actually, no. We got married in Phoenix, Arizona.

VAN SUSTEREN: So, when you first saw him it just confirmed the phone call?

D. SALIE: Confirmed the phone call. He was everything. I mean he was just larger than life. He was unbelievable. He really was. He had a heart of gold and he was so good with children and that's what mainly impressed me.

VAN SUSTEREN: What did he do in the Army?

D. SALIE: He's infantry. When he died he was a platoon sergeant. He had his own platoon.

VAN SUSTEREN: And what happened?

D. SALIE: In terms of what happened when he died?


D. SALIE: He was on a patrol. It's my understanding they were taking over for another unit and it's my understanding they were being shown a little bit of the city of Baquba. And three other Humvees went across the same bomb and his was the fourth one and it blew right as he went over it. And he took the brunt of the bomb.

My husband would probably, if he could come from wherever he's at right now, he would say his children are his first thing that he's most proud of, but his second would be his soldier that was sitting next to him. My husband was so big. He took the brunt of the bomb and probably, nine times out of ten, saved his soldier's life.

VAN SUSTEREN: And let's not forget he was pretty proud of his wife as well. Let's not forget that one. Deanna, Chyna, thank you both very much.

D. SALIE: Thank you.

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