Sunday, July 26, 2009

This is hard

Died: July 20, 2009 in Afghanistan

Sgt Gregory Owens Jr, of Garland Texas joined the Army in January 2007 and arrived at Fort Drum in June 2007. Greg was a field artillery automated tactical data systems specialist with the 4th Battalion, 25 Field Artillery Regiment. His awards and decorations include the Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Campaign Star, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, and the Army Service Ribbon. He died at age 24 in Wardak Province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle followed by an attack from enemy forces using small arms and rocket-propelled grenade fires. He is survived by his parents.

4th Battalion
25th Field Artillery
3rd Brigade Combat Team
10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry)
Fort Drum, New York

He is survived by a great number of friends who loved him dearly.

I was fortunate to have Greg in my art one class his sophomore year. He was cute and funny and nice and always delightful. Most of the kids in class are nowhere near as nice. He was a joy.

I remember getting very annoyed with him later in the year when I found out that he'd attended "THAT party" where there was a wet t-shirt contest and were underage folks drinking. I was pretty annoyed about the whole thing on a number of levels (including seeing photographs of my students and the children of co-workers). He wasn't sorry. I think he was pleased at getting to go to the likely party of the decade. I was just more annoyed because he was a sophomore that paid five bucks to get a cup to get into that party and that there were not adults there to monitor what happened. He did not seem worse for the wear. He was actually very "cool" about the experience. Much more so than some of the upperclassmen who attended.

Greg was SMART. In art class, relative smart doesn't necessarily come up very often. I appreciate folks who work hard. Greg was not the most gifted artist, but his intelligence came through over and over again. I realized that he was smart enough to recruit for the Academic Decathlon team. I asked him nicely and he said he thought it would be a fun, cool thing.

It was a fun cool thing. He was a great team member and was always a positive influence on our hard headed group. Greg was not one to complain. He was one who would say "We can DO this." He was always smiling.

I was a little sad that he didn't have room for Decathlon his senior year, but he did get to be Drum Major. Our team would yell for him because he was one of us. We were proud to see him lead our band, showing his leadership skills.

When he graduated, he came and presented me with a laminated bookmark. It had his picture and it had my name on it. It was a "remembrance" of him. I've never gotten another like it in all the years that I've taught.

Greg stayed in touch with me since he graduated 7 years ago. I got periodic emails checking in to see how I was doing and to let me know how he was doing. I talk to a great number of my former students, but none who were so diligent as Greg.

I will miss his sweet soul. I honor his service.

We as a people and a planet are diminished by his loss.