The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

January 19, 2013

Lt. Col. Mark Weber's story will live on

Former aide to Petraeus, dying of cancer, father shares his experiences for sons

— When Matthew Weber opened the cover of the book written for him and his brothers, he couldn't help but let a few tears go reading his father's words.

"I hate writing this letter, but I would hate not writing it even more," wrote Lt. Col. Mark Weber in the opening letter of "Tell My Sons." "Nothing can replace the long talks I hoped to have while fishing or driving to some far-off adventure with you, just as I got to do with my dad.

"But, thankfully, I've been blessed with enough time to pass along the most compelling experiences of my life. As sad as the reasons are for writing any of this, let's see if we can squeeze some joy out of it before I have to leave."

Weber of Rosemount, on medical leave from the National Guard, wrote what he described as a "modest, self-published effort" filled with life experiences he wanted to share with his three boys before he died.

Matthew, 16, sees it as even more than that. It's a way to still get his dad's advice, even after he dies, he said.

"I will probably come back to it a lot," said Matthew, Weber's and wife Kristin Coughlin's oldest son.

The Webers have been surprised the rest of the world has embraced the book in the same way, finding his story to be compelling and heartbreaking.

Weber is dying of intestinal cancer. In 2010, following a massive surgery that failed to stop the cancer, doctors gave him four months to live.

"Since then? Well, they have no idea," said Weber, 41. "Anyone else in my condition and with my surgical complications just doesnÕt survive this long, let alone do what I've done."

What he's done is the second part of the story that has touched so many people. Facing death at any time, feeling sick many days, Weber has taken his story public so he can share an "embrace life now" kind of message with as many people as possible.

His next stop is his alma mater, Minnesota State University, on Jan. 30 for his "Last Lecture."

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