“Keep Smiling” ~Captain Douglas DiCenzo.

“Amanda. He didn’t make it”.


One sentence.


One phone call.


Nothing is the same again after. Ever.


There are very few moments in life when the whole world seems to both stop and spin out of control. My Nic. Broken in a million pieces an ocean away.  Neither of us have a clue what was said after that. Does it even matter?  Words can’t help.


I just kept crying “Jesus Jesus we need you so desperately.”


War is so painful. Doug loved America. He was a smart, West Point grad. He was a methodical and generous man. The day his humvee was hit by an IED, he had offered to cover a shift for one of his soldiers. And just like that, everything changed. For all of us.


I’ve spent many many hours praying for the soldier Doug died for. I knew Doug’s heart. I knew he loved Jesus. Maybe the soldier didn’t?  Maybe Doug died in his place to give him more time to get his heart right. I’ve prayed tirelessly that he has. But even when Jesus died for people, some accept the sacrifice and some don’t.  Choices


Here’s the weird thing about being a souled out follower of Jesus. Salvation has been at the heart of Nics healing. Her broken, shattered heart saw this as an opportunity to crumble or to build. Her weapon a pen. She began to write. She is a divinely gifted writer. Full of wisdom. She wrote a beautiful tribute to Doug, imagining what was happening to him after he died and sharing her journey on this side.


But that wasn’t enough. Her calling lead her to passionately study the word. She began to hound heaven with questions and pour over scripture to learn what it looks like when we reconnect with our loved ones in the end. Her weapon has created bible studies, teaching the end of times in a way that will never allow you to be casual with your life. It has changed so many of us I can’t even calculate.


Yes today is hard. Every year I let myself look at this picture and come apart. Mourning what their life should have been, mourning that even though her now man-child never really knew his amazing daddy, he looks more and more like him as he gets older. I mourn that other men have had to step into Doug’s place to teach Dak the things he would have loved to.


Then I turn my mourning into laughter. Because Nic is light. Being with her is life giving. Because she is so full of Jesus she shines. And the work God has invited her to do will change the remnant of believers into something so much larger than even she imagined. Her prayer was for 100 people to know Jesus as a result. He promised her more. I believe him.


Here is the link to order her books. Bless someone who sacrificed for your freedom by ordering them all today. 



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  • Thomas House on

    I will never forget the day Doug and Robert died. We had been in country for a few months and were well into the swing of things, patrols, raids and such. Our 3 vehicle convoy was lined up in front of our barracks getting ready to head out on patrol. I was inspecting my soldiers gear, ammo, and checking radio fills when Doug came up to me and said “Sgt House, pull your truck off the line and get your guys to the MWR for a break. I was just informed of a NAC meeting that I need to be at”. NAC was the local neighborhood and city government that was trying to rebuild their area. We had been going pretty hard the last few weeks and sleep and just being in PT shorts seemed like something out of the past, so I stood my truck down and had my driver pull it offline. Doug and Robert’s truck took my place in the column and headed out on mission while my guys downgraded to PT uniforms. While my fire team was sitting in the MWR on FOB Falcon, we heard a blast form outside the wire. It’s not an uncommon thing in downtown Baghdad. You could almost set your watch to them. This one was different for some reason. All of us stopped what we were doing and looked at each other. That blast sent chills up all of our spines. I still don’t know exactly why, but we left the MWR and went back to our barracks building and went to the TOC to see what was going on. The radios were going crazy with traffic about what had happened to C 2/6 Actual.. I heard his voice for years after.. in the hall of our barracks, on the radio, in the chow hall. It wasnt just my life that was spared that day, but my whole team. I still struggle with “survivors guilt” or whatever they call it to this day. I have tried to live up to what I think Doug and Robert would have wanted me to be. I have a family now, a beautiful 8 year old daughter and my wife is pregnant due in August with our son. I am a simple farmer now, still dealing with my demons. I know this post might be hard to read, but your family deserves to know all the final details of that day that I can remember. Doug was the finest officer I ever had the chance to serve under. I hope you all find peace.

  • KIm on

    Thank you for your services doesn’t seem like enough especially for the loss that you and your family have endured. I remember Doug from high school I wasn’t very close but he was a great athlete, student and friend. To lose someone you know in our community is a great shock to all especially serving our country, I have many family members serving and it’s a call we pray will never happen my heart is with your family for what a loss you are going threw.

  • Joanne dICenzo on

    Nichole is an amazing young woman, wonderful mother, and an amazing woman of faith. Her book is heart wrenching and beautifully written. Prayers to her, Dac, Larry and Cathy and everyone whose life was woven into their story.

  • Alyssa Koning on

    I remember Doug from high school. He always had a huge smile on his face. We didn’t hang out and he may not have known me but I knew of him from watching him play football and wrestling.
    I think of him often for his sacrifice.

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