TEMPLE, Texas — As 6 News reporter Bary Roy knocked on the door of the Knadle's home, the wind was chilly yet mild and you could feel the sorrow in the air with Christmas just a couple of weeks away.
The widow of a Fort Hood soldier who was killed in Afghanistan, Silkey Knadle, answered the door with a soft greeting and welcomed 6 News into her home, a place she shared with Officer 2 David Knadle. Knadle was a gun pilot assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division. He and Officer 2 Kirk T. Fuchigami Jr., were killed when their Apache helicopter crashed while on a mission.
A Christmas tree decorated with lights and ornaments stood at attention just a few feet away from the door. Decorative red and gold ribbon weaved between the green branches, a red bow on top of the tree.
Silkey said Nov. 20, the day her husband died, started just like any other day. She said she exchanged a text message conversation with David shortly before his ill-fated flight.
"I had sent him a picture of my daughter and myself reading a book," she said. "I told him, 'home-school is the best' and he wrote back, 'I am so happy.'"
She said when she didn't hear from David, she got worried.
"He had told me he was going to fly six hours and sometimes that turned into eight or ten but never into the length that it had," Silkey said. "So, I was in bed and I googled it. No one would answer me. He wasn't answering me and I saw the headline."
Silkey said it was about 12:30 a.m. and her world crashed down as their daughter slept next to her.
"By 2:30, the Army showed up at my door," she said. "And when they came to the door, I just laid on the floor, I just laid there and cried."
David and Silkey met while they worked for Apex Capital in Fort Worth. She was a trainer for the company and David was looking to make his mark in the world of finance as an account executive.
"He was young, cocky and cute and funny," she recalled, smiling just slightly as she remembered a young charismatic man she was responsible to train. "He was easy to train. He was just so smart and quick."
It wasn't for another six months that David and Silkey realized they were interested in each other, she said. Once they realized that, they became inseparable.
"Aside from NTC, deployments and various training he needed to attend we were together," she said. "We worked together, we lived together, we went to the gym together."
They had two children together, Eason was David's stepson, who he loved as his own, and Starling, their daughter together. Starling was the light of his life and everything he ever dreamed she would be.
Late Fort Hood pilot killed in Afghanistan, Officer 2 David Knadle
Life for the Knadle's was settling in. It was good and full of humor. For David, being a husband, a father, a family man, was the most important focus of his life outside of his commitment to military life.
David's friends say he was smart and he knew everything there was to know about virtually anything. If he didn't know something he would get the right answer even if it took him a while to find it.
"When it came to just raw intelligence, like, yeah we googled some facts just to see if David knew, and he knew. Like, we thought he was cheating," Officer 4, Mark Kisinger said. "I still think to this day he cheated."
"Everything he did, he did 100 percent," Capt. Mark Freeman said. "David was an unstoppable force and there's countless stories that indicate that whatever he put his mind to do, he was able to accomplish."
"People naturally gravitated towards David," Kisinger said. "You wanted to be like him. He taught us what it meant to be a professional soldier."
The walls in the Knadle home were adorned with pictures of David, memories of his life in photos but that is not all that Silkey has left.
"Before David left, he wrote me a series of letters, one for each week for five weeks," she said with tissue in hand as she gazed at the handwriting of her best friend. "And this was in his letter for the week of Oct. 11."
The hands of a new widow clutched a white piece of paper with the standard blue lines and black ink emblazoned across it in the penmanship of her forever best friend.
"I know it hurts for me to be gone," she read out loud, her voice steady as she spoke the words of her David. "But I believe in this job and that I'm able to do something good over here for our world."
With the reality of life without her best friend, there are no amount of words or amount of memories in a photo that will heal the pain of losing her best friend.
When asked if she's wrapped her mind around the fact that David will not walk through the door, Silkey said the was no way she could do that.
"People have asked something similar about his daughter, his little 5-year old, does she understand? But how could she, when I don't?" Silkey asked.
"We had planned Christmas without him but we hadn't planned life without him," she said with tears in her eyes. "And that's the hardest part."
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