XinHua Mesenburg graduated from Edison High School before he found his calling in the Air Force. He was stationed as a Senior Airman at Andrews Joint Base when his father and stepmother received a picture of an alarming handwritten note on Jan. 5
Mitch, who is from Huron but lives in Florida, shared what the message said in a Facebook post: “I hope that all you remember me fondly, I hope all you will live a long and happy life. As I fade from your memories, please know this was nobody’s fault. The stress life has given me, finally broke my will to live.”
After reading the note, Mitch and Shannon tried desperately to get ahold of him by phone and called authorities in Virginia. Mitch stayed on the phone with a dispatcher for what he described as an eternity, but it turned out to only be 12 minutes.
They were put on hold and told someone would call later. Hours later, they were visited by two Airmen from the MacDill Air Force base who told them XinHua died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot.
The suicide rate for military veterans and active duty servicemen is about 50 percent higher than the rest of the population, according to U.S. Veterans Magazine.
Mitch wrote there were no signs beforehand and that his son seemed happy after he returned from deployment in Qatar. XinHua wanted to make a career out of the military and was looking for a home in Florida. He had a bright future in front of him.
XinHua was adopted by Mitch Mesenburg and Sally Zimmerman in 2001 at the age of 8 after his biological father left him in a park in China. When he arrived, he didn’t speak a word of English.
“I would point to a tree, he would write the Chinese characters for it in chalk on the driveway,” Mitch posted. “At one point the driveway was full of Chinese characters describing all the beauty that surrounded us. When he hugged you, he would not let go until you did first.”
As soon as he mastered the English language, he loved reading and would burn through thousand-page books in a week. He was also a skilled tennis and piano player.
He took his responsibility of being an older brother to his siblings Khien, Marley, Ming and Ameen seriously. He always found time to help them with homework or projects and worked diligently with his sister Ameen to ensure they both retained their native language.
“I’ve been up all night and I’m tired of staring at the floor in hopes of an answer,” Mitch posted. “I guess this is my attempt at some closure and to let everyone know, sometimes this happens with no warning … I wish I could give step by step instructions on how to avoid this, unfortunately, that’s impossible. Being an eternal optimist, I can only hope that something good comes out of this. If you are someone with conflict in their life and these thoughts enter your mind, please take a moment to speak with someone. There is absolutely no problem that can’t be fixed.”
Mitch’s heartfelt message about his son went viral on social media, being shared by online news sources and inspiring XinHua’s friends, fellow servicemen and family to share their own fond memories.
“Mesenburg and I were deployed together from January 2018 to August 2018. Being on the same flight, I was posted with him a handful of times … A kind guy who completed his duties day in and day out. Gone way too soon,” Blair Pembleton posted on Facebook.
“My brother and I made so many memories in our childhood spent together. We shared a lot of love for things we were passionate about. I was always looking up to my big brother. Anything XinHua wanted to do, I wanted to do too,” his sister, Marley, wrote on Facebook. “My brother was a great person. He didn’t deserve the pain and helplessness he felt … I hope heaven treats you well my sweet brother. You have touched many hearts and brought so much love into many lives. May you never be forgotten and may you always be loved, Rest In Peace XinHua, I love you so much.”
XinHua’s family would like any memorial contributions to go to veterans organizations or adoption agencies like Chinese Children Adoption International and Family Adoption Consultants.
Mitch suggested donations could be made to Thank You Across America, which is doing a fundraiser in XinHua’s memory in Naples, Florida; Rolling Thunder, a charity promoting health and support for veterans; and Mission 22, an organization which seeks to prevent suicide among veterans.
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Mitch Mesenburg’s Facebook post in full:
To all my family and friends,
It is with great regret and a heavy heart that I am writing this letter. On January 5th. at 8:03 pm Shannon and I received a text message picture from our son Senior Airman XinHua Mesenburg who was stationed at Andrews Joint Base. The picture was of a handwritten note, it said.
“I hope that all of you remember me fondly, I hope all of you will live a long and happy life. As I fade from your memories, please know this was nobody’s fault. The stress life has given me, finally broke my will to live.”
After reading the note we immediately called 911 and gave them his address. I stayed on the phone with the dispatcher for what seemed an eternity but in reality, was only about 12 minutes. The whole time Shannon kept texting and trying to call him to keep him on the phone. We were put on hold for a few more minutes and when the dispatcher came back, she said the on-duty officer would call us as soon as he knew anything. We waited an hour before calling back, once again we were told the on-duty officer would call. We nervously waited, anticipating all the different scenarios. We called again at 10:15 PM, and at 1:30 AM. Again, we were told to wait for the call. At 4:30 Am we tried again, that is when the officer told us, your son shot himself and is deceased.
At 5:30 AM, two Airmen from MacDill Air Force Base came to our front door to officially deliver the news. Senior Airman XinHua Mesenburg died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Why? I’m sure people think, there had to be signs! On the contrary. After his deployment in Qatar, he visited us for three weeks, in that time his spirits were great, he spoke about making a career out of the military, he said he loved the Air Force, couldn’t wait to be deployed again and had just received a promotion. He was going to try and get into the intelligence department. He wanted to purchase a duplex here in Florida. He even spoke with a mortgage broker here to see what he would have to do to accomplish this goal. Really doesn’t sound to me like he was thinking of doing himself in.
XinHua was adopted and came to the U.S. at the age of eight, his biological father left him in a park in China at the age of 5. When he arrived, he didn’t speak any English, there were time we sat in the driveway of our Scheid Rd home, I would point to a tree, he would write the Chinese characters for it in chalk on the driveway. At one point the driveway was full of Chinese characters describing all the beauty that surrounded us. When he hugged you, he would not let go until you did first. He had an infectious laugh and fun disposition. Loved to play games.
Once he mastered the English language, he began reading books at a staggering pace. It was not unusual for him to devour 5 -10 books a week, I’m not talking the Reader’s Digest versions, these were 500 -1,000-page novels primarily of the sci-fi nature. That being said, with all that reading, he never gained a good grasp of sarcasm, often reading a paragraph out load to me and try to gather the underlying meaning. Even after the explanation, he would try to use the reference in his daily conversation and completely miss the point. When he wasn’t reading, he was playing tennis. He was very good at it
I’ve been up all night and I’m tired of staring at the floor in hopes of an answer. I guess this is my attempt at some closure and to let everyone know, sometimes this happens with no warning, like I mentioned above, XinHua seemed to have the world by the tail and was ready for more. I wish I could give step by step instructions on how to avoid this, unfortunately that’s impossible.
Being an eternal optimist, I can only hope that something good comes out of this.
If you are someone with conflict in their life and these thoughts enter your mind, please take a moment to speak with someone. There is absolutely no problem that can’t be fixed.
Hug your kids and loved ones and don’t let go, life is much too short and fragile. They say watch for signs, sometimes they are just not there.
In leu of flowers please make any donations to a Veterans organization that deals with suicide, but please make sure the funds are for the actual cause.
Sorry for the length and run in sentences, been a long day.