Here is my tribute to one such soldier.
An American Hero:
Captain Ryan Anthony Beaupre
268, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron.
Capt. Beaupre was a graduate of Illinois Wesleyan University but instead of a life in accounting, he chose to join the Marines in 1995 to fulfill his dream of becoming a pilot.
Captain Beaupre was known for his unruly red hair and easy smile. He was the type to surrender his turn on the phone to other Marines with wives and children back home.
He was killed in a helicopter crash in Kuwait Thursday, March 20, thereby becoming one of the first U.S. casualties of the war in Iraq. He was the pilot of the CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter that crashed, killing eight British and three other Marines. The helicopter assigned to the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force crashed at 6:37 p.m. CST (Friday morning in Kuwait), about nine miles away from the border with Iraq, military officials said.
He was laid to rest on in his hometown of St. Anne, Ill. and is survived by his parents, Mark and Nicky Beaupre, & two sisters and a brother.
Here are some reflections of Capt. Beaupre from those who knew him.
from a fellow Marine, Capt. Arthur Anzalone:
All throughout the ordeal [of Officer Candidate School] Ryan plowed ahead, making us all laugh, leading us through the rough times, and setting the example for all of us to follow. There were many nights when his reassurance got me through. He finished near the top, with his quiet but sensible leadership style ensuring his success. His professionalism carried on into the fleet...Ryan was a great man, a good friend, and an awesome Marine officer. If he had one flaw as a Marine, it was that he didn't have one mean bone in his body. Friendly, ever the quiet professional, that was Ryan.
from a classmate at Illinois Wesleyan, Tom Kohl:
...Ryan exuded a quiet confidence that did not require high doses of attention or social affirmation. Ryan was a contributor, period. Ryan contributed to his friendships, Ryan contributed in the classroom, Ryan contibuted to the brotherhood, Ryan was solid as nails. In the end, Ryan gave his life.
from the Registrar at Illinois Wesleyan and Adviser to Sigma Pi fraternity, Jack Fields:
Ryan was "one of the best. He is one of the kids who really stands out in my memory. He was confident but not arrogant. The calm certainty about him inspired confidence. I would think that he would have made an excellent officer. He would inspire men to follow him. "When I think of Ryan, I am reminded of the opening of the old Andy Griffith show where Opie is going fishing with the fishing pole in his hand. That is the perfect caricature of Ryan — this all-American kid with a shock of red hair and a happy gait, not that he was carefree and happy-go-lucky. He had this presence about him that made you feel good to be around him."
And here is the letter that Capt. Beaupre wrote to his parents in the event of his death in Iraq.
11 Mar, 2003
Mom & Dad,
Well if you are reading this, then things didn’t go well for me over in Iraq. I’m sorry for the pain that I have caused you because of this. Please do not be upset with the Marine Corps, the military, the government, or the President. It was my choice to go into the military. The President and my higher commanders were just doing what they thought was best. Realize that I died doing something that I truly love, and for a purpose greater than myself. There is a paragraph that I read from time to time when I lose focus.
“War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself” - John Stewart Mill
Now there is a little Marine Corps bravado in there, but I do believe in the basic premise.
I want you to know that I could not have asked for better parents, or a better family. Alyse, Kari, Chris and I never wanted for anything … most of all love. I cannot think of a time when you two were not there for us. I’ll never forget that one of my friends in elementary school said that if he could trade places with one person, he’d trade places with me because of my parents and home life. I truly feel that I’ve had a blessed life thanks to you two. Please give my love to Alyse & Ryan, Kari & Matt & and the girls, Chris & Brandy, and everyone else in the family.
All my love,
As an American citizen I thank you, Captain Beaupre, for your courage and your sacrifice. I thank your family for all they have given. I will teach my children that we are forever in debt to you and others like you, who have given all in the name of our freedom.
We will never forget that a hero lies here:
Information and photos courtesy:
Fallen Heroes of Operation Iraqi Freedom