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Prince Harry pays tribute to local fallen soldier

Laurie Everett mtjulietnews@tds.net • Updated Jul 29, 2013 at 9:12 AM

Mt. Juliet mother Tammy Stansbery said she and her husband felt "extremely blessed and honored" their son's tombstone was chosen by Prince Harry of Wales during a tribute to fallen soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia on Friday.

The royal chose Michael L. Stansbery's grave out of 400,000, and placed a wreath and note on it during his stop at the cemetery. The handwritten card was written to his American comrades in arms, who “paid the ultimate sacrifice in the cause of freedom.”

Stansbery said her son, Michael, stepped on an improvised explosive device during a "foot battle in Afghanistan in 2010." He was with the 101st Airborne patrol and was 21 years old when he was killed.

"Two others were killed as well," Stansbery said early Saturday morning.

The special honor took place two days before Mother's Day, an annual occasion Stansbery said was "extremely difficult to face."

"It's the most difficult," she said. "After losing a child, that day is what everyone says it is. You think of their ultimate sacrifice."

She said her son wanted to be a soldier since grade school. Stansbery said she and her husband had no idea Prince Harry would randomly pick their son's tombstone for the tribute. It was in the 60 Section where soldiers who died since 2001 are buried.

"He ended up at the end of the row," she said. "It was so like Michael; he always wanted to be first or last, never in the middle. It is very fitting. I think the prince spotted his grave."

Stansbery said she always worried after her son was buried so far away from Mt. Juliet he might somehow be forgotten.

"God blessed us with 21 awesome years, and he sacrificed his life for our country," she said. "We are extremely proud of him. We, as parents, never want him forgotten and to have royalty visit him is such a God-sent blessing. I know now for sure a lot of people do walk by his gravesite. That is so heartfelt, and we are honored."

Stansbery and her husband visit their son's grave routinely. A bridge in Mt. Juliet is dedicated to Michael Stansbery. Prince Harry served two tours in Afghanistan.

– The Telegraph contributed to this report

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