During the year prior, Bev's mother had died. The other empty space was for someone still living, their son Tim, who was alive and well, but living in one of the most dangerous places on the planet: Iraq's Diyala province, an area north of Baghdad that has become one of Iraq's key battlegrounds.
As a first sergeant in the U.S. Army's 82nd airborne, the younger Metheny and his men fought all over the province, from the capital Baquba to the fertile countryside along the Diyala River.
For 15 months in Tim Metheny's life, Diyala was home. He returned from Iraq in October. Now he's at home at Fort Bragg, N.C., and he'll be with his parents on Thanksgiving.
"We've got a lot to be thankful for. God has been very good. He's blessed us many times," said Bev Metheny on having her son home.
Tim Metheny saw many acts of valor, and he lost many good men. His unit, the 573rd cavalry, 3rd combat team, lost 22 paratroopers, with 180 wounded. Thirty men were wounded twice. They killed or captured more than 600 insurgents during the 15 months. They received dozens of medals, and Gen. David Petraeus personally sent a letter to the unit, commending their service.
In one incident, an explosion sent a three-inch shard of wood through Tim Metheny foot.
"It was nothing considering I've got guys who lost eyes ..." he said.
Constantly under attack, Tim Metheny once lost nine men under his command in a suicide bomb attack. But he said he never worried about his future. He relied on a strong Christian faith and the idea that God was in charge of what happened in battle, not him.
Even during the holidays last year he remained thankful, sending e-mails home telling his family how blessed he and his men were, despite the hardships they faced in battle.
Tom Metheny, himself a Vietnam veteran of the U.S. Navy, was the one who worried.
"My wife handled it real well," Tom Metheny said. "I have to say maybe my faith wasn't as strong as hers. She really just turned it over to God, and I thought I did, but I still worried a lot. I still had sleepless nights."
This year, if there are sleepless night, they won't be because Tom Metheny is worried about his paratrooper son. And this Thanksgiving, one of those empty seats at the table won't be empty anymore.
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