>   What started as heart-wrenching yet hopeful on Sunday evolved to heartbreaking and sickening Tuesday morning.
   The abduction of Madras soldier Pfc. Thomas Tucker, along with Texas soldier Kristian Menchaca, captured the national consciousness. We awoke Tuesday to learn of their violent deaths. The entire community is somewhat hollowed by the experience, saddened, seemingly left in what-can-we-do mode.
   It is hard to imagine what Wes and Meg Tucker, Tommy's parents, must have gone through over the past few days, and what they must be experiencing right now. Their immediate future will certainly be an extended nightmare as they deal with crushing tragedy, made more difficult and complicated by its vast international public impact. May they soon, somehow, find comfort.
   Here at home, and across the United States, we gained a hero in the service of Pfc. Tommy Tucker. Yet, here at home, our neighbors lost a son. The entire community extends its deepest condolences.
   Pfc.. Thomas Tucker will live forever in the hearts and minds of his hometown. Those fortunate enough to have known him in his youth have, from what we've all learned, an eager, kind, hearty young life to remember. Most of us are getting to know him only because of this tragedy, through the smiling words of recall of classmates and former co-workers, and through the chilling audio tape of his last call to home, which his family was kind enough to share.
   In that call he urged his parents to take care of themselves, mentioned how he worried about them. He also asked his parents to be proud of him -- as if they needed reminding -- because he was serving his country.
   Tommy Tucker wasn't the prom king, the valedictorian of his class, or a star athlete. He was just your average kid, friendly, tough and gutsy, good-humored and hardworking. The kind of young man that fights our wars for us.
   Proud of you we are. Your hometown will never, ever, forget you. Rest in peace, Tommy Tucker.
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