Bison head men's golf coach Michael Binney was an attack helicopter pilot during his two-decade tenure in the U.S. Marine Corps, rising to the rank of major. Binney’s overseas deployments included service in Somalia, Bosnia, and multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, where he was recognized for his actions with the Bronze Star Medal, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal and the Joint Service Commendation Medal. 

During the 2014-15 winter break I asked each one of our players to do a little research project while they were home for the holidays. As a way of getting our team on the same sheet of music, I assigned each one of them the name of a fallen U.S. service member and asked each of them to research that individual, how the served, where they served, and the circumstances behind their deaths. My intent was for them to realize that there are men and women who are serving this country right now, everyday, in some of the most hostile places on earth, and that the freedoms that we enjoy each day, like attending an amazing school like Bucknell, are paid for by their service, and sometimes by their very lives. I did this to hopefully give them some perspective on something that they may not think about on a regular basis but which I feel is extremely important. 

When we returned from Christmas Break, I asked each player to present their research and findings. I hope that you will enjoy reading what these young men found out about these American heroes, what they did, how they lived, how they died, and the sacrifice they made for this great nation.

Here are tributes from our active players. Archived tributes from graduated players can be found here.  

-- Coach Binney

JB Thompson on LCpl Jordan Haerter:

LCpl. Jordan HaerterI was fortunate enough to do my research on Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter. Haerter, a rifleman with the 1st battalion 9th marines, is sought to be awarded with the Medal of Honor by lawmakers and civilians. Haerter is survived by his parents, JoAnn Lyles and Christian Haerter in Sag Harbor, New York. 

On April 22, 2008, Haerter and Cpl. Jonathan Yale were guarding a security checkpoint where their platoon was sleeping in Ar Ramadi. When a suicide truck approached the entrance containing 2,000 pounds of explosive, Haerter and Yale had to act immediately. The Marines shot at the driver, killing him, blowing up the truck. By doing this, the platoon and innocent civilians in the perimeter lived though Haerter was killed.

As a Lance Corporal, Jordan Haerter left for his first deployment the day before Easter in March of 2008 and was deployed to a Joint Security Station Nasser, in the Sophia district of Ramadi, Iraq. 

What this story means to me: 

This story is a perfect example of how fragile life is, and the decisions that one will make to save his platoon brothers, and many other innocent civilians. Reading about Lance Cpl. Haerter's story made me reflect on the decisions I make, although on a much smaller scale, for the people I care about. Since my research, I have and will continue to think of the sacrifice Haerter made for the people he loved, so that I too can try and live up to his morale. 

What it will mean to carry his name on my bag:

Although I did not know Lance Cpl. Haerter personally, I feel like I know the type of man he was and what he stood for based on his actions that day. Playing golf in college is something not many people get the chance to do. Having Jordan Haerter's name on my bag will always remind me that no matter how bad things are going on and off the course, I must conduct myself in the manner Jordan would have. It will remind me to always strive to do the best I can because I know that's what he would of done. I feel that with carrying his name on my bag, I will always have someone to play for and make proud. Winning for Jordan is one of the small ways I, and the team, can honor his life. 

Jack Gregor on Capt. Brent MacBain

Capt. Brent MacBainIt was my honor doing research on one of our many fallen United States heroes, Marine Captain Brent MacBain. Capt. MacBain was piloting a UH-1N Huey transport helicopter with two crewmembers and a photographer. They were photographing the new marine AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopter. While flying in tandem near the Santa Catalina Island, the two helicopters collided, cutting off two feet from their main rotor blades. MacBain’s valor and determination showed when he successfully landed the crippled helicopter safely in the ocean. Ultimately this decision cost him his life, but saved the lives of the other crewmembers by giving them crucial seconds to prepare for impact with the water. After safely landing in the water, both helicopters quickly sank and plummeted 100 feet below the surface in 15 seconds, but with the added seconds of Capt. MacBain’s actions, the four survivors were able to use their inflatable vests and emergency oxygen tanks to safely swim to the surface. Capt. MacBain’s body was never recovered.

What this story means to me:

This story shows me the constant sacrifices that our nation’s military make on a daily basis. Capt. MacBain showed his commitment to his country by serving, but also to his comrades by choosing to safely guide the helicopter into the water. If he chose to brace for impact he could have possibly saved himself, but at the sacrifice of others. This selfless action gives me hope that I will always be protected by men and women like Capt. MacBain. This story has given me the perspective that no matter how bad of a day I think I am having, there are much worse things happening to our servicemen and women for my protection.

What it will mean to me to carry is name on my bag:

It was a privilege doing research on Capt. MacBain, and it makes me feel obligated to inform people of his story. Therefore, I hope people approach me and ask me about his name on my bag so I can share his story. Sharing his story will hopefully make everyone understand the constant sacrifices our service men and women make every day. I hope to give people perspective by telling Capt. McBain’s story, thus making people share the same respect that I have for him.

Connor O'Brien on Pfc. Matthew A. Bean

Pfc. Matthew BeanBackground:
Pfc. Matthew Bean was raised in Pembroke, Massachusetts. Before enlisting in the Army in 2006, Pfc. Bean attended Silver Lake Regional High School, where he played football and wrestled, and the University of Massachusetts, where he studied agriculture. In his spare time, he enjoyed judo, snowboarding, and fishing. He was also a licensed EMT.

On May 19, 2007, Pfc. Bean was shot in the head by an enemy sniper while searching for three comrades in Lutifiyah, Iraq. After being wounded, he was rushed to surgery in Germany and then returned to the United States. He was removed from life support on May 31.

• Purple Heart: The oldest medal still awarded to service members, it is given to any soldier injured or killed in the line of duty
• Bronze Star: Awarded for meritorious or heroic service
• Army Commendation Medal: Awarded for sustained, meritorious/heroic service

Personal Thoughts:
Pfc. Bean’s story is important to me because it humanizes the realities of war. When we hear “a U.S. serviceman was killed today in Iraq,” it is certainly a tragedy, but it is easy to neglect the life that they lived and the people that they touched. When they are killed, there are parents, loved ones, friends, and teammates who are losing someone that they care deeply about. In this case, those people lost someone who was brave, lived a life that was completely selfless, and was willing to sacrifice himself for others.

Having Pfc. Bean’s name on my bag is a reminder that the game we play is, at the end of the day, relatively unimportant. It is much harder to get mad about making a bogey when I look down and see his name and think for a moment about what Pfc. Bean did. He made the ultimate sacrifice for the idea of leaving no man behind. The thought that his life ended – abruptly and without warning – while he was in service of our nation is a powerful reminder about the value of life, service, and sacrifice.

Jubal Early on TSgt. John A. Chapman

TSgt. John A. ChapmanI had the honor of researching Technical Sergeant John A. Chapman, a true American hero who gave his life for his country in March 2002. TSgt. Chapman was a member of Operation Anaconda, the mission to unseat Taliban and Al Qaeda units from eastern Afghanistan. Chapman, a member of the Air Force’s elite 24th Special Tactics Squadron, was operating a CH-47 Chinook when it was struck by enemy fire, sending a Navy SEAL to the ground. Able to navigate a wounded aircraft to the ground, Chapman’s unit set out to locate the fallen SEAL. Shortly after the insertion, Chapman received enemy fire from a stronghold. Advancing past the first stronghold, Chapman reached his next stronghold, a dug-in machine gun nest, at which point he received fire from three locations. From minimal personal cover, Chapman exchanged fire with the enemy at close range, eventually succumbing to multiple gun shot wounds. Chapman’s lack of regard for his own safety and willingness to reach a second stronghold before giving his life, enabled his team to advance and break enemy contact; his bravery and courage saved the lives of many. Chapman received the Air Force Cross Medal, second only to the Medal of Honor for valor and gallantry, only five men have been awarded this medal since September 11th, 2001.

What his story means to me:

The sacrifice that TSgt. Chapman showed in his lack of hesitation to save a team member speaks volumes to his dedication and loyalty to both his team members and his country. Drawing upon his strength and undeniable faithfulness to serving will motivate me to be a better team member, and enhance my understanding of personal responsibility to this program.

What it means to carry his name on my bag:

The two greatest impacts of carrying his name on by bag thus far has been the privilege of passing along his story and the gain of perspective. I have had multiple playing competitors ask about TSgt. Chapman, this gives me an opportunity to pass along the life story of an American hero, and keep his legacy alive. Additionally, I have gained great perspective through having his name on my bag. Golf is a fickle game, we all have bad days and we all hit errant shots. Being able to look down at my bag at the name of an American hero, who gave his life for my freedom, is humbling. I realize that my bad shot or bad day pales in comparison to the struggles and sacrifices TSgt. Chapman made for his country.

Ashton Radvansky on Sgt. Brett D. Swank
Sgt. Brett D. SwankI had the honor of researching Sergeant Brett D. Swank as my fallen hero. Sgt. Swank was from Northumberland, Pa., and was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 509th Infantry Regiment, Fort Polk, Louisiana. He was 21 years old when he was killed on January 24, 2005. An improvised explosive device detonated near his position in Baghdad.

Swank was accepted to Colorado State University, but deferred because he wanted to complete his Army service. He began basic training on September 11, 2001; just a few months after graduating from high school. In high school, he was co-captain of the soccer team, a ski club member and competed in track and field. Swank's grandfather served during World War II, but Swank's father, Daniel, said his son was influenced by Army Rangers who came to talk to classmates.

What this story means to me:

Sergeant Swank made the ultimate sacrifice for his country, and that is something that will never be forgotten. My Grandfather was a marine, and from the stories that he has told me I know that nothing comes easy and that fighting for your country is a tough duty. Sergeant Swank is a brave man who fought for his country and ended up falling while trying to protect this great country that we all call home. Sergeant Swank is one who I now look up to and will strive to act like: to be passionate in all that I do as he was, and to always remember to be respectful and compassionate to others. Thank you for your sacrifice Sergeant Brett D. Swank.

What it will mean to me to carry his name on my bag:

Sergeant Swank was only 22 years old when an explosive device detonated near his position. This is such a young age, and there were so many more years that he had to live. At 18 years old I can not imagine what it would be like to think that I only have four more years of life. This truly puts Sergeant Swank’s sacrifice in perspective for me. It is evident as to how much he cared for his country; he bypassed college in order to enlist, and when he came home from deployment he visited and talked to third graders. As I carry Sergeant Brett D. Swank’s name tag, I will strive to honor him and his name, and play the game of golf with honor and respect.

J.P. Raftery on Capt. David S. Connolly

Capt. David S. ConnollyCaptain Dave Connolly was born in Newton, Massachusetts on December 12, 1967. Growing up in Newton Highlands, Capt. Connolly was one of six children. From a young age he knew that he wanted to serve his country, enlisting in the Coast Guard prior to graduating high school. After serving in the Coast Guard and receiving an honorable discharge, Captain Connolly enrolled in the Boston College School of Advancing Studies. During his time at BC he also was a proud member of the Reserve Officer Training Corps. He quickly gained the respect of his peers through his determination and work ethic, subsequently winning the Boston College ROTC programs’ Veterans of Foreign Wars award in 1993 and the Reserve Officers’ Association Award in 1994. Upon graduating from BC in 1994 with Cum Laude honors, he received an assignment as a second lieutenant in the United States Army. In 2002, Connolly attended Suffolk University Law School and graduated Magna Cum Laude. After graduating, Connolly was hired by the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office as an Assistant District attorney and prosecutor. In the spring of 2003, Connolly married Debra Toran in a memorable service where Dave lost both his parents within the following weeks.

During the height of the War on terror in 2004, Connolly volunteered to return to active duty in the Army. Joining the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force at Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan. On April 6, 2005 at the age of 37, Captain Connolly tragically died in a helicopter crash as a member of the 7th Special Forces group during Operation Enduring Freedom alongside 18 of his fellow servicemen. He was serving as a transportation officer when his CH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed 80 miles southwest of Kabul due to bad weather, as it returned from providing supplies to the US Army forward base in Baghran. Connolly became the first graduate of the BC ROTC program to die during active service since the Vietnam War.

Captain Connolly was a true leader who gave the ultimate sacrifice for his country. He was committed to public service and made it his personal mission to better the lives of others.

Carrying his name on my bag is a great honor because his determination and outlook on life is something I will try to emulate. Connolly embodied what it means to be a proud American and anyone who knew him was lucky enough to be graced by his attitude towards life. I only wish I could have had the opportunity to meet such a great man and his loss has been grieved by many.

Peter Bradbeer on Chief Petty Officer Adam Brown:

Adam BrownI had the honor of researching Chief Petty Officer Adam Brown. Chief Brown was trained as a US Navy Seal commando, serving with groups such as Seal Team 4 and 6. He was killed in action on March 17th, 2010 in the Komar Province of Afghanistan. His service awards included the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and Silver Star (posthumously).

Adam Brown grew up in Hot Springs, Arkansas, where he became a high school football star before graduating. Soon after graduation, he signed up for Navy Seal training in Coronado, California. He graduated in 2000 and was first deployed south of the US Border in 2002 for counter drug missions. He then deployed to Afghanistan in 2005 and upon his return, he assessed for Seal Team 6. He was denied entrance at first into the team, but through perseverance he passed assessment six months after initial request. He returned to Iraq for a third tour of duty, where he helped distribute shoes to many of the impoverished children living there. In 2010, on his fourth tour, some of his teammates were pinned down in a Direct Action raid of a Taliban stronghold in the Komar Province, and during the assault Chief Brown, attempting to draw fire away from his comrades during the assault, was mortally wounded. Chief Brown’s extreme bravery in the face of enemy fire not only helped preserve the success of the assault but undoubtedly helped save the lives of his teammates. Chief Petty Officer Adam Brown was posthumously awarded the Silver Star.

What his story means to me:

The ultimate sacrifice that Chief Petty Officer Brown made for his team is what makes him one of my heroes, and everyone who lives in the United States’ hero. Throughout his deployments, he continuously put himself in the midst of incredible danger and helped save the lives of his comrades, not for him, but for his team and for his country. Without people like Chief Brown, this country would never be free and I thank him, and all who served, for their service to this great country.

What it means to carry his name on my bag:

It means a lot for me to carry the name of such a hero on my bag and it will always give me the perspective on life to be better, whether that's being a better teammate, friend, or person. I will be able to share his story with others who are curious about it, making others aware of how important the service of others to this country is.

Chris Tanabe on First Lieutenant Travis Manion:

It was my honor to be able to do research on First Lieutenant Travis Manion. Manion was a decorated athlete, student, and Marine. Travis Manion made the ultimate sacrifice in the Al Anbar province of Iraq on April 29th, 2007. He, his fellow Marines, and Iraqi Army counterparts were ambushed while searching a suspected insurgent house. 1st Lt. Manion led the counterattack against the enemy forces. He was fatally wounded by an enemy sniper while aiding and drawing fire away from his wounded comrades. His selfless actions allowed every member of his patrol to survive. For his altruistic sacrifice, Manion was awarded the Silver Star and Bronze Star with Valor.
What this story means to me:
1st Lt. Manion’s story is an illustration of the valor and dedication that the brave men and women that serve our great country exemplify each day. These men and women that serve in our military are constantly putting their lives on the line for the sake of us back home. It is also easy to forget that we live in the luxury of safety and isolation from danger, so after researching 1st Lt. Manion, I have a newfound appreciation for his service and sacrifice and that of all the men and women in the military.

What it will mean to carry his name on my bag:
I am honored to carry 1st Lt. Manion’s name on my bag for the next four years. Being able to represent not only myself, my family and friends, and my school, but also 1st Lt. Manion is a privilege. I will keep his story with me on and off the course to remind myself that I am able to attend a school like Bucknell and play collegiate golf because of men and women like 1st Lt. Manion.

John Kalavritinos on Lieutenant Brendan Looney, USN
It was a truly rewarding experience to research my fallen hero, LT. Brendan Looney, USN. Looney, a U.S. Naval Academy graduate in 2004, was a Navy SEAL, who played lacrosse with his two brothers at Annapolis. He was awarded the distinguished “honorman” from his BUD/S graduating class in 2007. Brendan was killed in Afghanistan in a Black Hawk helicopter crash on September 21, 2010, and he was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery next to his USNA roommate and best friend, Travis Manion. The crash occurred during Operation Enduring Freedom.

What this story means to me:

Brendan Looney was a true American hero and died in the noblest of ways; fighting for his country and what he believed in. He is an example of the many men and women who have laid down their lives for this great country. These are people who should be recognized and respected at all times for the sacrifices that they make/made.

What it will mean to carry his name on my bag:

I am more than honored to carry his name on my bag. I am a huge supporter of the military and the servicemen and women who have sacrificed so much. Brendan Looney exemplified all the important qualities that a person can have. It’s a great feeling to know that I am connected to him, even in this seemingly minor way. It’s easy for us to forget about what men and women like Brendan have done, and this will serve as a great reminder for me throughout my time at Bucknell.