Who will you remember?
Most of us know someone who died while serving our country. Tomorrow, Sat May 28, we will have a special Memorial Day Rally in West Chester. From 11AM till noon. Bring a sign with the name of your friend or loved one. Lets remember those who gave their lives so we might enjoy ours. I am making signs to remember these heroes.
1) Sgt Louis Fastuca, US Army - killed last July in Afghanistan by an IED, he was 24 years old. He lived in West Chester. Most of us went to his funeral, we remember the motorcycle escort, the hundreds of people lining the route from the church to the cemetery, hands on hearts or holding flags. We learned what a great young man he was, gifted classical pianist, who wrote a song in high school and played it at the funeral of the mother of his best friend who had died of cancer. Shy as a boy, Lou Fastuca overcame his shyness by playing ice hockey and boxing. He joined the Army because he believed the jihadists must be stopped. He became a special forces soldier. He was very loving and affectionate to his 2 younger brothers. His Mom and Dad are strong, devout Catholics, leaning on faith and the shoulder of God.
2) 1st Lt Travis Manion, USMC - killed in Iraq by a sniper in April 2007, it was his 2nd combat tour in Iraq, he was 27 years old. Travis is special to me because I went to junior high school with his mother Janet. Travis was an outstanding Marine officer. He literally put the weight of “training the Iraqi soldiers” on his broad shoulders. He constantly put himself in danger to set the example and help the Iraqi learn to overcome their fears. The Iraqi soldiers that he trained are, to this day, the all-stars, the best fighters. The jihadists in Iraq set out to stop Travis and in spite of many close calls, they finally did. The Iraqi Army was so saddened, they named their base after him. Travis was the first American to ever have an Iraqi Army Base named after him. He received the Silver Star and the Bronze Star, the nation’s 2nd and 3rd highest medals. In addition, Travis was from Doylestown, and went to the US Naval Academy, while there he was on the wrestling team and was ranked 20th in the country. He was also a football player in high school. Travis’ trademark statement was, “If not me, then who.” Visit the Travis Manion Foundation .
3) Midshipman Freddy Eisler, USNA - died in Nov 2008 while attending the US Naval Academy, he was 19 years old. Freddy may not have died on a battlefield, but to me he is every bit a hero and warrior. All his life, as early as 5 years old, he wanted to attend the Academy. His father had been an Annapolis graduate and Navy jet pilot for 24 years. Freddy wasn’t gifted with high SATs or grades, but he was an overachiever because of his big heart. He was an Eagle Scout, could speak 2 languages, was an expert scuba diver and sailor, and was a football player at Bishop Shanahan High School. He was the oldest of 5 children, the other four are all girls who idolized him. Freddy applied for Annapolis but his grades weren’t good enough, they said he had to go to the Naval Prep school and if he did well, he could attend the Academy. Freddy was accepted by several other colleges, but decided to go to the Prep school to fulfill his lifelong dream. He had a great year at the prep and was admitted to the Naval Academy in 2008. Sadly, just 2 months after becoming a midshipman, Freddy contracted spinal menigitis and was given 6 hours to live. He fought it with all his might and lasted 6 days. During that time, his fellow “Class of 2012″ midshipmen bonded together, lining the halls of the hospital by the hundreds, praying and singing the Naval Hymn, pulling for him to pull through. All who went to Freddy’s funeral service in West Chester were awed by the sight of 7 busloads of his classmates, all midshipmen dressed in uniform, coming here to honor their fallen brother.
4) Lcpl Alan R. Schultz, USMC - killed in Vietnam in August 1967, he had just turned 20. Al Schultz was my hero. He was the boyfriend of my older sister. When he would visit us, he would spend a lot of time with me, throwing a football or having a baseball catch. They say you don’t remember someone for what they gave you or where they took you, you remember them for how they made you feel. Well, Al Schultz made me feel like a million bucks. He saw how skinny I was and brought his weights to my basement and taught me how to lift them properly, showing me exactly what exercises to do. I loved him, he was short, but muscular, wore glasses. When he left for Vietnam in Oct 1966, he said, “Keep my weights for me till I come back.” Sadly, 10 months into his one-year tour, he was killed by a mortar fragment to the head, in an ambush in Quang Tri. I will never forget him, I cried the rest of that summer. I will never forget his military funeral in Levittown, PA. Sunny day, very hot. The flag covered casket, the Marines carrying his casket so slowly, the precision. The sunshine made their uniforms look illuminated. The 21-gun salute, shuttered through the silence and the sobs. His mother’s pained face, his father’s tremendous strength. His older brother was active duty Air Force, wearing his blue uniform. Al Schultz was a US hero. He didn’t have to go to Vietnam, he had a hearing problem, but he insisted he go, he loved his country. I never understood why protestors said Vietnam vets like Al Schultz were baby killers, committing crimes and atrocities. I knew what a good decent man he was. To this day, whenever I see a US Marine, I see Alan R. Schultz of Levittown, PA. Our Vietnam Veterans were just as much heroes and patriots and liberators as any soldiers from any previous war in America’s history.
5) Capt. Jeffrey P. Toczylowski, US Army, KIA Iraq Nov 2005. Was 30 years old, from Upper Moreland, PA. He was Army Special Forces.
He wrote this letter:
Dear friends and family,
If you are getting this email, it means that I have passed away. No, it’s not a sick Toz joke, but a letter I wanted to write in case this happened. Please don’t be sad for me. It was an honor to serve my country, and I wouldn’t change a thing. It was just my time.
Don’t ever think that you are defending me by slamming the Global War on Terrorism or the US goals in that war. As far as I am concerned, we can send guys like me to go after them or we can wait for them to come back to us again. I died doing something I believed in and have no regrets except that I couldn’t do more.
This will probably be the longest email most of you have ever received from me. More that one of you complained on multiple occasions about my brief emails. I have requested to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery and would like you to attend, but I understand if you can’t make it.
There are many more, like Medal Of Honor recipient, Lt Michael Murphy, USN, Navy Seal, KIA in Afghanistan June 2005.
And Cpl Michael Crescenz, Medal Of Honor recipient, US Army, KIA in Vietnam. Was 19 years old, from Philadelphia. His younger brother Joe attends our rallies every Saturday.
We will honor our troops by remembering the fallen. At noon we will sing the National Anthem and say a prayer for our troops, asking God to bless and have mercy on all the families and friends of the fallen.