COOLVILLE - For Bonnie Kibble, writing a book about the loss of her only son was a way for her to both tell a story and honor his memory.
Cpl. Casey Eugene Kibble, 21, was serving in the U.S. Marine Corps when he died in Naples, Italy, from injuries sustained in a fall. He joined the corps under the delayed entry program while a junior in high school and reported for boot camp shortly after his 1999 graduation from Federal Hocking High School.
"Casey always wanted to be a Marine," she said.
Bonnie Kibble holds the book she wrote about the loss of her son, Casey.
Casey died on Dec. 27, 2001.
Kibble said the title for the book, "That's OK, Jesus Loves You," comes from a saying her son used.
"Two months before he died he was baptized in Naples in the Mediterranean Sea," she said. "Whenever someone got to him or made him angry, he would say 'That's OK, Jesus loves you.' One of his buddies said that should be the title for a book about him."
Kibble said Casey loved to hunt and fish. In school he ran track and was active in plays.
"He was in a lot of school plays and his favorite one, I think, was Earnest in 'The Importance of Being Earnest.' He was one of the Earnests," she said. "He didn't get involved in school activities much because he wanted to hunt and fish. He also loved to ride a motorcycle. He was a daredevil."
Casey's long-range plans were to attend Ohio Valley University and possibly become a teacher, his mother said. She taught kindergarten at Coolville Elementary School before she retired.
Casey had several jobs in high school and used to stop at his grandmother's house in Belpre on his way to work to check on her.
He graduated from basic training at Parris Island, S.C., on Veterans Day 1999.
"After graduation, he went to Camp Lejeune, N.C., for advanced infantry training, followed by security forces school in Chesapeake, Va., and then he went to Naples, Italy," she said. "We went to see him graduate - me, his father, Steve, his sister Holly and his girlfriend."
Casey died on Dec. 27, 2001, from a fall off the roof of the barracks in Naples. She said they were not told the cause of death for almost a year after he died.
"He died two days after Christmas. At first they (Italian civilian officials) were not sure if it was an accident or foul play," she said.
His sister Holly played taps at the funeral, held with full military rites.
When Casey had his accident, it was 5:30 p.m. Dec. 26 in Ohio. Kibble said she began crying at that time and did not know why.
Later she learned Casey had his accident at 11:30 p.m. Dec. 26 in Naples, 5:30 p.m. locally. He lived about an hour after the accident and died in the trauma unit of a civilian hospital because the base didn't have facilities available.
On the next morning, Kibble boarded a plane to go see one of her daughters and granddaughter in Arizona. When she arrived, she got a call from her husband and he broke the news to her.
"The Marines were waiting for him when he got home and he knew something bad happened," she said. "He called me and we left Arizona the next day."
On the flight back, Kibble said she experienced a miracle.
"When we got on the plane, there was an African American lady in the seat next to ours," she said. "As we talked, she asked me what was wrong and I told her. It turned out she was a grief counselor and we talked more.
"As we spoke, I asked what she did for a living and she said she was a teacher in a seminary for the American Baptist Church."
It turned out the woman specialized in grief counseling and taught classes for pastoral students.
"It blew my mind," Kibble said. "I said, 'Are you sure you aren't an angel by the name of Della Reese?' (star of the television show 'Touched by an Angel') She laughed and said, 'No, I'm for real!' I really felt that I was being touched by an angel."
Casey is buried on the family farm near Coolville, near a pond they built. She said Casey had been sending them money to help build the pond.
Kibble said she began to write what would become "That's OK, Jesus Loves You" after one of her daughters bought her a journal.
"She told me just to write," she said. "It was therapeutic to write down my feelings. As the year progressed, I decided to share it because my youngest daughter kept going to the library and bringing me books by other people on how to deal with grief, but there was nothing about military deaths, but there were books about losing children."
Kibble said she decided to share her experience in a book to help others cope with a similar situation. Although the book has not been out for long, Kibble said a friend of hers has read the book and gave it a good review.
"She e-mailed me and said she had just started reading and it made her realize it would help people experiencing the same thing," she said. "Although she has not lost any children, it made her want to hold them closer to her heart. She has a son in the military and she knew about the worry you feel."