by Staff Sgt. R.J. Biermann
31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs
6/2/2015 - AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy -- When
Brooke El-Attrache and her husband, 1st Lt. Ethan El-Attrache, 31st
Logistics Readiness Squadron, arrived at Aviano Air Base, Italy, in
2014, she noticed something was missing.
In late 2013, her older sister, Bridgett, experienced the tragic loss of her stillborn son, Mason.
"She was 40 weeks and three days [pregnant]," El-Attrache started.
"She'd gone in that day for her appointment and everything was normal.
After her appointment, I took her to Olive Garden and she started going
in to labor."
El-Attrache rushed her sister to the hospital.
"Nobody was worried ... until they couldn't find the heartbeat," she
said with tears in her eyes. "Then the doctor came in and told us
[Mason] was gone."
In addition to El-Attrache's family and friends who consoled her
sister during her tragedy, several non-profit organizations helped her
with funeral costs, created keepsakes; and most importantly, connected
her with others who had experienced similar tragedies.
"I can't imagine anyone [at Aviano] going through that and not having
their family here or the support they need," said El-Attrache.
The truth was, when she arrived here, many resources were available for
those grieving the loss of their loved ones, like the Airman and Family
Readiness Center, chaplains, Military and Family Life Consultants, first
sergeants, key spouses, and others; but support from those who'd
experienced similar loss were harder to find.
"I started meeting people on base who shared their stories with me," said El-Attrache.
"When I met Ally [Salinas], who suffered three miscarriages, I realized that the support wasn't there."
That's when she established Airborne Angels, a local, non-profit
organization, focused on connecting people grieving the loss of a small
or unborn child.
"When I lost Chandler it was really hard," said Salinas. "I couldn't
leave the house. Here it's really easy to alienate yourself, but I had
to come to my own form of healing. When I knew that support was there
and that other people had similar stories, it helped me."
Today, Salinas serves as the vice president of the organization, so she
can share her story to encourage others and continue healing.
"Talking about this is very hard and some people need to talk about it
in their own time," admits Salinas. "We want to be there to let people
know support is there and so others know where they can come to offer
The group now boasts 44 members and recently held their second major event.
"We hosted a balloon release event, mid-way between Mother's and Father's day, to honor our loved ones," El-Attrache said.
The organization's first event was held Oct. 15, 2014, Pregnancy and
Infant Loss Remembrance Day. The event, a local International Wave of
Light, helped honor the memories of lost infant and unborn loved ones.
Brooke wants everyone to understand that the group isn't simply for the
grieving mother, but everyone in the family who mourns over the loss of
their son, brother, nephew, cousin, friend, etc.
"We want people to bring their families," El-Attrache said. "Loss isn't something anyone should experience alone."
If you're grieving the loss of a loved one or think you can offer
support to someone who is, call 345-425-0032, 342-198-7781, email