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.

Subsequent additions to the team were also asked to participate, and their responses have been added. 

-- Coach Binney


 Peter Scialabba on Cpl. Jonathan Yale

Cpl. Jonathan YaleI had the privilege of doing my research on Marine Cpl. Jonathan T. Yale. Cpl. Yale was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, at Camp Lejeune, N.C. Yale came from Burkeville, V.A., and was killed at the age of 21 on April 22, 2008 while guarding a checkpoint in Ramadi.

On April 22, 2008, Cpl. Yale and Lance Cpl. Jordan Haerter were guarding a Joint Security Station, which housed more than 50 Iraqi and 100 U.S. troops. They saw a large blue truck filled with explosives accelerating towards their post, and making no attempt to stop. Yale and Haerter opened fire on the truck, causing it to explode before it reached their station. Both Haerter and Yale were killed by the explosion, but the lives of every Marine and Iraqi police officer in the station were saved. All reports indicate that neither of them ever stepped back, and fired their weapons as fast as they could with only seconds to live. Both Yale and Haerter were awarded the Navy Cross, the military’s second-highest honor for valor.

What this story means to me:

This story is evidence of the ultimate self-sacrifice that countless U.S. soldiers have given for their country. The two soldiers only had seconds to act, and it is clear that they made no hesitation in their choice. I think this would have been the case with almost any two Marines in their position. Cpl. Yale’s actions make me think about my life, and what I’ve sacrificed for others as a 21 year old. I have realized that the military is certainly only for those with the strongest character, and who are willing to die for their country. 

What it will mean to carry his name on my bag:
I look forward to carrying Cpl. Jonathan Yale’s name on my bag this spring. As a senior, entering my last season, I am honored to represent such an incredible person. I will keep his story in mind as I play, and I am sure it will bring me peace of mind knowing how fortunate I really am.


 Nick Geissler on Maj. Doug Zembiec

Maj. Doug ZembiecI had the privilege of doing my research on Major Doug Zembiec, better known as “The Lion of Fallujah”. He was a decorated officer in the United States Marine Corps as well as a member of the CIA’s Special Activities Division Ground Branch—an extremely rare feat. He was awarded a Silver Star, Bronze Star for valor and a Purple Heart with an added star. Major Zembiec was killed in action on May 11, 2007 while serving in operation Iraqi Freedom.

Zembiec was actively working undercover for the CIA when he was killed by small arms fire while leading a raid in Baghdad on May 11, 2007. While his position in the CIA was kept secret some months after his death, he has since been memorialized with a star on the CIA Memorial Wall. Zembiec is survived by his wife and two daughters.

Major Zembiec joined the Marines in April of 1996 and was a member of the First Battalion, Sixth Marine Regiment as a rifle platoon commander in Bravo Company.

What this story means to me:

Major Zembiec was a true warrior and someone who naturally, and without thinking, would put himself in the line of fire for others. As a born leader and compassionate father, Zembiec embodied the traits of a perfect soldier and role model. To me, Zembiec showed an uncanny amount of character in the face of some of the most horrific circumstances imaginable. Such bravery and integrity provides perspective that anyone, especially a college golfer, can rely on when circumstances seem tough or life challenges in a new way. While Doug was killed in a small arms operation, I am convinced he would have changed nothing because it was his warning for his men to “get down” that ended up saving their lives.

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

Major Zembiec’s name on my bag will serve as a perpetual reminder for me to:

  • Live with integrity, for without integrity we deceive ourselves, we live in a house of cards.
  • Fight for what you believe, for without valor, we lose our freedom.
  • Be willing to sacrifice, for anything worthy in life requires sacrifice.
  • Be disciplined, for it is discipline that builds the foundation of your success.

These are all direct quotations from a letter that Zembiec wrote to the children of a fallen comrade. These words will inspire me and will be elicited in my memory every time I see the hero Doug Zembiec’s name adorn my bag. When things don’t go my way, I will remember to stay disciplined and believe in the power of my own ability—Doug certainly did and I will honor him by practicing the same principles on and off the golf course.


 John Edler on Maj. James Weis

Maj. James WeisI had the privilege of doing my research on Major Jim Weis from one of my neighboring towns of Toms River in New Jersey.  Maj. Weiss was a highly decorated officer who joined the Marine Corps in 1994. Weis served in Iraq and was a part of the 2003 invasion.  He and his co-pilot, Lt. Col. Mario Carazo, were killed by an RPG while supporting combat operations in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. 

Weis and Carazo were caught supporting their ground forces in the valley near Lashkar Gah, making them vulnerable to attacks that came from above their aircraft.  Both Weis and Carazo were members of Marine Aircraft Group 39, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. 

Weis is buried in Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego, which is where the cobra squadron’s headquarters at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar is located.

 What this story means to me:

What I got out of the story of Maj. Weis and his service as a Marine is the amount of dedication and love he gave for the country he loved.  Providing Americans like myself with freedom and peace of mind is something that I take for granted at times, while Weiss was fighting for others and me longer than I have been alive. 

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

Although I never had the pleasure of meeting Maj. Weis or Lt. Col. Carazo, trying to represent their efforts on the course will be a pleasure. I will strive to conduct myself in as professional and honorable a manner as he and his comrades would. In his life and death, he exemplified all that is good and decent in our nature. I will try to honor that in my life. 


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. 


 C.J. Zachary on Maj. John M. Walsh

Maj. John WalshMajor John M. Walsh’s life ended tragically short on January 22, 2003 when two U.S. Marine Corps Cobra helicopters collided above the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas. During a late night border patrol mission, John’s Cobra was en route to a target site when it collided with another Cobra helicopter; a tragic accident which took  the lives of four U.S. Marine Corps helicopter pilots. John’s untimely death is an example and reminder that the men in uniform are constantly putting their lives at risk for U.S. citizens, regardless of where they are stationed. 

John entered the USMC directly out of college then started flight school after nine months of training. After graduating third in his class he chose the Cobra because the Marines had no F-18 slots available. He truly loved flying and was considered one of the most competent Cobra pilots in his time.

Even more impressive than his military prowess was his ability to touch the lives of the people he knew. Those who personally knew John loved him. He had many family members and left behind many who deeply cared for him.

What this story means to me:

This tragedy is truly one of certainty and self-sacrifice. Most people, including myself, know what tomorrow will hold (three hour-long classes followed by golf practice in the afternoon).  However, these men and women serving in the military have little indication of when their life could permanently change due to relocation, deployment, or combat. Giving up the comfort of certainty and peace of mind is a large commitment that most civilians likely do not even think about.

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

I will proudly carry Maj. John Walsh’s name on my bag as a sign of respect and gratitude to him, and all the men and women who have served this country. It will also be a good way to keep perspective on my life and where I am. No matter how badly a day or round of golf is going, I am still a citizen of the greatest nation in the world. 


 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.


Zachary Melnick on Capt. Mike Spann

Mike SpannFor the Spring 2015 golf season, I am privileged to honor Captain Mike Spann by carrying his name on my bag.  Capt. Spann served six years in the United States Marine Corps as an artillery specialist before he joined the CIA in 1999 as a member of the special operations group of the special activities division. He went to Afghanistan in 2001, following the attacks of September 11th, as an interrogator accompanying Northern Alliance troops.

On November 25, 2001, Capt. Spann was killed during a taliban prisoner riot at the Qala-I-Jangi fortress, the prison at which Spann was working as an interrogator. Those who recall Mike’s death say that he fought courageously for his life before eventually being overpowered and killed by a crowd of Taliban prisoners. Capt. Spann was the first American killed in combat during the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. Following his death, Spann was awarded the Intelligence Star and the Exceptional Service Medallion. He is buried in Arlington Cemetery.

What this story means to me:

Capt. Spann's story is an example of the courage and dedication of the military service men and women that sacrifice their lives every day in hopes of a safer world. Capt. Spann lived his life with integrity and selflessness, and did not look to others to cultivate change, but rather himself.  His story has allowed me to reflect on my life and the sacrifices that others have made for me so that I may have the opportunity to succeed and live a better life. I am grateful to Capt. Spann’s, and all of our service men and women’s, sacrifice for the freedom and peace of our nation. I understand that these men and women sacrifice their lives and families at home so that our world can be a better place.

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

As I carry Capt. Spann’s name on my bag this spring, and the remainder of my career here at Bucknell, I will remember his story and be grateful for his courage, dedication, and sacrifice. I hope that his name will remind me that I am so lucky to be able to pursue my dreams here at Bucknell on and off the golf course. His story will bring me peace on the course and encourage me to live my life with the dedication and pride that Capt. Spann lived every day by. I am honored to carry his name and story with me this season.


 Daniel Levin on Lt. Col. Dave Greene

LTC Dave GreeneFor our project, I was assigned to do research on Lt. Col. Dave Greene of Raleigh, North Carolina. Lt. Col. Greene, a reservist assigned to Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 775, Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3D Marine Air Wing, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, was killed in his second tour of duty during Operation Iraqi Freedom on July 29th, 2004. Greene's gunship was one of two flying in Anbar Province, the Sunni enclave west of Baghdad that had been a recent target of insurgency attacks, when he was fatally wounded. Greene was providing air support for a group of marines on the ground when he was struck by ground fire and fatally wounded. His aircraft was flying below the normal range, which made him and his co-pilot (who safely landed the damaged helicopter) obvious targets in an increasingly violent area.

Lt. Col. Greene is survived by his wife Sarah, and his two children, Wes, and Jenna, who were 8 and 10 years old respectively at the time of their father’s death. Lt. Col. Greene became the highest-ranking Marine to die in Iraq up to that point, and after his death, there was an incredible outpouring of love and respect for the revered and cherished Marine. Lt. Col. Greene was known as “a hard-working father, husband and family man." One Marine who served alongside Lt. Col. Greene stated, “He treated all of his people fairly and never once thought of himself as being better than his enlisted. He treated us all with respect and dignity.” These quotations captured the gist of what countless colleagues and friends said about Lt. Col. Greene and to this day, there is no doubt that he is deeply missed and will always be remembered by those who knew him and the others that knew of him.

What this story means to me:

Trying to research Lt. Col. Greene will result in a few main things: one, he was a respectful dignified, generous, and charismatic man who fought with all he had to defend his country and its values. Second, he was beloved by all he came into contact with and had a way about him that put everybody at ease. Third, Lt. Col. Greene was an amazing family man who loved nothing more than his wife Sarah, and his two children, Wes, and Jenna. Thinking about these three aspects of Lt. Col. Greene can serve as a template to base one’s life on. Understanding the sort of legacy Lt. Col. Greene left is not only inspirational, but it forces you to realize that there are certain things that must be done in life such as taking care of your country, your friends, and your family. If you can accomplish these things with the same sort of grace and attitude Lt. Col. Greene did, then it is highly likely that you will have a similarly exceptional legacy.

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

Having Lt. Col. Greene’s name on my bag will serve as a constant reminder of what life is really about: service, friends, and family. Playing golf is a privilege that very few are fortunate enough to have, much less playing on a college team. Keeping in mind how fortunate I have been is something I try to do and having Lt. Col. Greene’s name on my bag will certainly help with that process. Additionally, Coach Binney put me in contact with Lt. Col. Greene’s wife, Sarah, and having her husband’s name on my bag will always remind me of her, Wes, and Jenna. Wes and Jenna are “grown up” and they are both incredibly strong people. They are both very strong and determined people who have been through a lot but have managed to be very successful despite the challenges they have faced. Mrs. Greene has a number of the same qualities as her children and since her husband’s death, has served as a rock for her kids to lean on. She is an amazing woman and having Lt. Col. Greene’s name on my bag will remind me of her, Lt. Col. Greene, and her children, who being of a similar age, have gone through things I could never imagine having to experience.


Austin Honigford on Capt. David Cross

I had the privilege of doing my research on Captain David C. “Moon Pie” Cross. Captain Cross joined the Marine Corps in 1991 and trained as a Naval Aviator in Pensacola, Florida. He later became an instructor for the AH-1W Super Cobra Attack Helicopter at Camp Pendleton in San Diego, California. He died on January 22, 2003, when his helicopter crashed into another helicopter during an anti-drug patrol along the Texas-Mexico border. He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.

What this story means to me:

I believe this story is important because it reminds us that our military members are not only risking their lives for our country overseas, but are risking their lives to protect our borders each day to make sure we are safe. This was an incredibly unfortunate accident, and I believe the sacrifice that Captain Cross made should not be forgotten.

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

I am grateful I will be able to do something to honor a man that gave his life for our country. It will be a great opportunity for me to be able to tell people about what Captain Cross did for our country. Furthermore, carrying his name on my bag will serve as a reminder to myself that there are men and women fighting every day, overseas and on our borders, so that Americans can enjoy the true meaning of the word freedom.


D.J. Magee on Lt. Col. Mario Carazo

I had the honor of researching Lieutenant Colonel Mario Carazo. Lt. Col. Carazo was a decorated Marine trained as a Cobra helicopter pilot. He was killed in action over the Helmand Province, Afghanistan on July 22, 2010. His many service awards include the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, and the Meritorious Service Medal with a gold star.

Lt. Col. Carazo was the only U.S. born member of his Costa Rican immigrant family. Despite not being able to speak English when he entered school, he would go on to earn multiple degrees from the United States Naval Academy. By all accounts he was fiercely competitive and had a fascination with military history, becoming an expert on Iraq, Iran and other world hotspots. He was able to fulfill his lifelong dream of flying when he was commissioned in the Marine Corps in 1991. He would go on to be deployed seven times.

What This Story Means to Me:

Although I have never met Lt. Col. Carazo, his story stands out to me because of the way his spirit is remembered by friends and by members of his family. While researching this project I came across quotes from those who survived him praising his character and diligence. I find it particularly impressive that Lt. Col. Carazo was able to overcome a language barrier to earn three degrees from the Naval Academy. By all accounts he was fiercely dedicated to the Marine Corps and a committed father and husband.

What It Means to Wear His Name on My Bag:

Lt. Col. Carazo was a dedicated soldier whose service far exceeded the call of duty. His sacrifice stands as a lasting reminder of the importance of preserving the principles that the United States was built upon. It also demonstrates the enduring power of loyalty. Lt. Col. Carazo was a loyal Marine and family man. He gave of himself both to the Marine Corps and to his family. Although he is no longer with us, those who enjoyed his commitment remember his spirit. In a small way, wearing his name on my golf bag will allow me to commemorate his courage and loyalty as well.


 Coach Michael Binney on CWO Edward Cantrell

CWO Edward CantrellI had the privilege of doing my research on Chief Warrant Officer Edward Cantrell. CWO Cantrell was a decorated Green Beret who survived 6 combat tours of duty to Iraq and Afghanistan, was awarded 4 Bronze Stars for valor, a Purple Heart for wounds received in combat and died on March 6th, 2012, attempting to save his daughters from a house fire.

After Cantrell and his wife jumped from a second story window, CWO Cantrell wrapped himself in a blanket and charged back into his home to save the lives of his two daughters. He never made it out of the home and was found next to the bodies of his two young daughters, Isabella, 6, and Natalia, 4. 

CWO Cantrell joined the Army in 1994, and was a member of 3rd Special Forces Group, located at Ft. Bragg, N.C.

What this story means to me:

The first thing that strikes me about this horrible tragedy is one of self-sacrifice. Not only did CWO Cantrell have a sense of duty in regard to his service to this great country, but he exemplified the greatest love that one human being can exhibit towards another; that of giving their own life to save another. Although it ended in tragedy, I don’t think CWO Cantrell would have or could have done anything differently. He is a hero in the greatest sense of the word.

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

Although I did not know CWO Cantrell personally, I served alongside 3rd Group while deployed to Afghanistan and know the type of professionals that they were. I am honored to have chewed some of the same dirt, served in the same combat zone as he and his fellow Green Berets, and I will strive to conduct myself in as professional and honorable a manner as he and his comrades would. In his life and death, he exemplified all that is good and decent in our nature. I will try to honor that in my life. 


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.

Honors:
• 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.