Area families try to process news

Patricia Crisostomo and her children cracked open some beers to celebrate Sunday night's announcement that the U.S. military had killed Osama bin Laden.

Paul Bradshaw said the terrorist leader’s death is not a joyous occasion, but a reminder for mankind to make peace.

Tani Hubbard struggled to make sense of it.

Michael Washington’s initial elation turned bittersweet.

For family members in the Tacoma area who have lost loved ones during combat in Afghanistan, the news of bin Laden’s death drew mixed reactions. Nearly 90 service members with ties to Washington state have died there.

The attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, motivated many Americans to join the military to strike back at their architect, bin Laden and his al-Qaida terrorist network.

One of them was 1st Sgt. Jose Crisostomo, a 59-year-old Spanaway resident known as “Sinbad” who began a new hitch in the Army in 2008.

He had retired in 1993 after a 24-year career. He died in August 2009 when a roadside bomb detonated near his vehicle, the oldest coalition soldier killed in that war.

Patricia Crisostomo said her husband filed paperwork to re-enter the service after 9/11; one of his goals was to get bin Laden. He half-jokingly wrote the terrorist’s name on one of his bullets, she said.

When Sunday’s news broke, she called her daughter in Arizona and her two sons living in the South Sound to “pop open a can of beer for Dad and Grandpa.” Patricia, who doesn’t drink, even took a sip.

She said bin Laden’s death was “long overdue.”

“We figured it was going to take time,” she said. “But, eventually, what goes around comes around.”

Steilacoom resident Paul Bradshaw said he hoped that bin Laden’s death “helps the world heal.”

His son, Lt. Brian Bradshaw, 24, died in June 2009 when a bomb exploded near his vehicle.

“The world is a better place without bin Laden or people like him, but ... it’s not something to rejoice,” Paul Bradshaw said.

Tani Hubbard, who lost her 21-year-old son, Spc. Joseph Caron, to a roadside bomb on April 11, 2010, said the news was numbing.

She said her son, a Tacoma resident, was willing to sacrifice his life if it meant bringing an end to bin Laden and other terrorists. He once told her, “Mom, I’m going to get him.”

She said she’s a bit relieved to hear about bin Laden’s death but remains worried about the U.S. being targeted for a retaliatory attack and wondered whether it will bring an end to the occupation of Afghanistan.

“We’re still over there, and there’s still children dying over there,” she said.

Christian Hill: 253-274-7390