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July 08, 2005

West Pointers, Baseball Players, heck, anybody who cares.

[N.B. I pulled this bit from the "Morning Reads" post below - for returning visitors, this *is* new stuff. JofA]

Greetings, Castle Regulars and those just passing through,

Things like this pop into my inbox with a sad regularity:

No. 671-05 IMMEDIATE RELEASE July 2, 2005

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

DoD Identifies Army and Navy Casualties
The Department of Defense announced today the death of eight soldiers and eight sailors who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Soldiers killed were:

Staff Sgt. Shamus O. Goare, 29, of Danville, Ohio.

Chief Warrant Officer Corey J. Goodnature, 35, of Clarks Grove, Minn.

Sgt. Kip A. Jacoby, 21, of Pompano Beach, Fla.

Sgt. 1st Class Marcus V. Muralles, 33, of Shelbyville, Ind.

Master Sgt. James W. Ponder III, 36, of Franklin, Tenn.

Maj. Stephen C. Reich, 34, of Washington Depot, Conn.

Sgt. 1st Class Michael L. Russell, 31, of Stafford, Va.

Chief Warrant Officer Chris J. Scherkenbach, 40, of Jacksonville, Fla.

Goare, Goodnature, Jacoby, Muralles, Reich, Russell, and Scherkenbach were assigned to the Army's 3rd Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), Hunter Army Air Field, Ga.

Ponder was assigned to the Army's Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), Fort Campbell, Ky.

Sailors killed were:

Chief Petty Officer Jacques J. Fontan, 36, of New Orleans, La.

Senior Chief Petty Officer Daniel R. Healy, 36, of Exeter, N.H.

Lt. Cmdr. Erik S. Kristensen, 33, of San Diego, Calif.

Petty Officer 1st Class Jeffery A. Lucas, 33, of Corbett, Ore.

Lt. Michael M. McGreevy, Jr., 30, of Portville, N.Y.

Petty Officer 2nd Class James Suh, 28, of Deerfield Beach, Fla.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Eric S. Patton, 22, of Boulder City, Nev.

Petty Officer 1st Class Jeffrey S. Taylor, 30, of Midway, W.Va.

Healy, Patton and Suh were assigned to SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team One, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Fontan, Kristensen, Lucas, McGreevy and Taylor were assigned to SEAL Team Ten, Virginia Beach, Va.

All 16 were killed while conducting combat operations when the MH-47 helicopter that they were aboard crashed in the vicinity of Asadabad, Afghanistan in Kumar Province on June 28.

From that list above: Major Steve Reich, someone you should know (hat tip, Jim C.) Don't just skim on by - go read that. Pat Tillman isn't the only soldier to pass up fame and fortune for Service. I don't hold Major Reich above any of the other dead, in this mission or others... but we should note those who sacrificed the easy life for one of service above self. Like Stephen Reich.

There is this, from USASOC (U.S. Army Special Operations Command) - Major Reich's official bio.

But, most importantly, there is this, from Major Reich's friends and classmates (where you are most likely to get the true measure of the man and warrior). I should note I am *not* one of these people, I'm not a graduate of West Point, even, but people near to me are, and this is me doing my bit with my little pulpit.

Subject: Steve Reich Killed in Afghanistan

A good friend of mine was killed in Afghanistan last week. His name was Steve Reich and we graduated from West Point together from the same company. We started Beast Barracks together, were in the same company, and graduated together. Attached is an article written and published on ESPN a couple days ago about Steve – he is one of the greatest baseball pitchers to ever play at West Point (he still holds the record for most wins at the school) and was heavily recruited to play major league ball. He turned them all down and eventually became a Special Operations helicopter pilot. He was on his fourth tour in the Stan when his bird was shot down. He leaves behind a wife, {snipped for privacy considerations}l, and, unfortunately, they were only married about 4 months ago.

I an honestly say that I knew of no one with more honor and courage than Steve Reich. Without a doubt, he was one of the finest soldiers and human beings I have ever had the pleasure to know on this Earth. He will be sorely missed from our ranks.

All my company mates from West Point are getting together to try to form some kind of special memorial for him at West Point – I don’t know all the details of it yet, but I will let you know when I get them.

{snipped for privacy considerations]

The family has also set up a memorial fund in Stephen's honor. The fund will support both the MWR fund of his unit and the Steep Rock Association - a local nature preserve that was special to Stephen. If you would like to make a donation to the fund, you may send a check to the following address:

First National Bank of Litchfield
ATTN: Stephen Reich Memorial Fund
PO Box 391
Washington Depot, CT 06794
If you have any questions on the fund, please call Debbie Swift at 860-868-7386

I did not know his wife {name snipped for privacy considerations] personally, but I have been told through contact with my classmates that she is very appreciative of cards and support from all the people who knew Steve, so if you have a chance, just send her a quick card showing support for our cause in Afghanistan and to reinforce to her what I am sure she already knows: Her husband was a hero and patriot and it is because of him and all the other guys over their risking their lives that we enjoy our freedom. Thanks-

Eric

This was further elaborated thusly:

My company-mates from West Point and, now, our whole class are coming together to try to get a memorial set up for him at West Point. Right now, it is down to a decision of whether to put up some kind of plaque/memorial at the USMA Baseball Stadium or possibly name an annual award in his honor going to a baseball player each year at USMA. Possibly both options may come to fruition. If anyone is interested in donating to this cause/memorial, let me know and I will keep you informed of whatever West Point and our class decide to do. Also, his family has set up a memorial fund in Connecticut - the information is below.

Steve was the most honorable man I have ever met and truly deserves these honors - he literally gave up the opportunity to make millions of dollars playing baseball to dedicate (and ultimately give) his life for our safety and freedom.

To conclude the stream:

K - I just got off the phone w/ AOG (Association of Graduates, ed) and they will be getting back to me with the process for setting up an annual award in Steve's name. What I'd like to propose is that we establish an award given to the graduating Baseball player with the top GPA (assuming this does not yet exist). This award would be presented at an annual ODIA awards convocation that Steve's family would be invited to attend.

Now here's the kicker. In order to establish a perpetual award like this, the AOG is indicating that they'd need a minimum initial investment of anywhere between $5-10K (depending on the convocation venue). We can potentially ask the class of '93 to divert some of our current class funds into this effort to help get things started, and I can cover 10-20% of the initial investment depending on the baseline target (whether it's 5 or 10K). However, before we commit to this, I want to ensure that there is enough interest amongst us and Steve's other classmates to be able to meet these investment requirements.

In addition to this award, the AOG has indicated that because steve was KIA, that at some point in the future, his name would be added to a plaque in Cullum Hall.

Bottom line: They need to raise between $5-10K to cover these costs. I really expect they will be able to raise it internally - but if would like to offer any assistance whatsoever, please email me direct and I will coordinate with Eric. They haven't asked for this help. I'm doing this on my own, because if I can't use this pulpit for something like this, just as we did for Spirit of America, well, what the heck, why bother? I'm not expecting an SoA-level response - and you can certainly contribute directly to the Memorial Fund with nary a word to anyone, if that's your druthers. Don't send me anything other than an email - based on the response, I'll coordinate with Major Reich's classmates on how they want to proceed. johnbethd*at*yahoo.com

Thanks for your time and consderation.

Cheers,

John of Argghhh!

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance: In memoriam.

For those of you with an interest in the SEAL casualties - Matt Heidt at Froggy Ruminations has info you can use. H/t, Banter in Atlanter.

WillyShake of Unconsidered Trifles has more on LCDR Kristensen.

John | Permalink | Comments (2) | Observations on things Military | Something for the Soul
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