Honoring Fallen Heroes
Local GWOT Combat Veteran to Speak at Legion Ceremony
By Liz Premo, Atlantic News Staff Writer
Atlantic News, Friday, September 7, 2007
[The following article is courtesy of the Atlantic News]
[Atlantic News File Photo by Liz Premo]
HAMPTON -- As the sixth anniversary of the 9-11-01 terrorist attacks on the United States draws closer, Hamptons American Legion Post #35 is preparing to solemnly commemorate the occasion with a new unveiling next week of its Global War on Terror monument.
This time, the polished granite stone will have engraved upon it six new names of fallen US servicemen from New Hampshire. They are, in chronological order of their passing since the previous Post #35 ceremony, as follows:
Army Cpl. Nicholas A. Arvanitis, 22, of Salem, who died October 6, 2006; Lance Cpl. Ryan T. McCaughn, 19, Manchester, November 6, 2006; Army Spc. Matthew J. Stanley, 22, Wolfeboro Falls, December 16, 2006; Army Spc. Toby R. Olsen, 28, Manchester, January 20, 2007; Army Spc. Justin A. Rollins, 22, Newport, March 5, 2007; and Army Capt. Jonathan D. Grassbaugh, 25, East Hampstead, April 7, 2007.
Post #35 has extended an invitation to the public to attend the ceremony, taking place on Tuesday, September 11 at 6 p.m. outside the Legion Hall at 69 High Street in Hampton.
Guest speakers include Gov. John Lynch, the Honorable Jeb Bradley, and American Legion State Commander Chuck Lewis. Also in attendance will be family members of NH's GWOT casualties as well as "other notable public dignitaries from the state," according to Post #35 Commander Ralph Fatello.
This year's keynote speaker will be Sgt. Nick Cyr (USMC), currently a New Hampshire State Trooper with Troop "A" in Epping. While in the Marines Cyr served two tours of duty during the Global War on Terror, the first in Iraq and the second in Afghanistan.
"It's an honor," says Cyr of being asked to offer his comments at the ceremony. He humbly adds that "there's plenty of other people out there" which Post #35 could have tapped for the same task, but reiterates that "I feel honored that they would ask me."
A NH state trooper for close to three years, Cyr, 25, served in the Marine Corps for just over four years. His military service brought him to the Middle East in early 2003, when he and his fellow troops were deployed to Kuwait in January, arriving by Navy ship the following month. From there they went into Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
"We made a push up there with 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines," says Cyr. As part of the Marines' enduring Task Force Tarawa (they of Guadalcanal fame from WWII) Cyr saw combat in An Nasiriyah, where they ultimately took part in the rescue of PFC Jessica Lynch, whose 507th Maintenance Company had been ambushed and Lynch taken prisoner.
"We were evacuating their wounded," explains Cyr, adding that "we weren't [in Iraq] too long," eventually heading back to the US in May of 2003.
Less than a year later, Cyr was back in the Middle East, this time in Afghanistan with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit. Serving from February through September 2004 near the Pakistani border, Cyr took part in search missions to weed out Taliban fighters until his tour of duty was complete.
In spite of the enemy's efforts and the amount of combat he saw, Cyr says "Everyone in my group came back both times, so we lucked out." And of his valiant service to his country, Cyr admits that he was just doing his job.
His current vocation as state trooper recently had him writing up DWI reports issued in the days prior to Labor Day weekend. Married to the former Hannah Czarick of Hampton Cyr, who grew up in Rye, began his law enforcement career with Troop "B" in Manchester. He has been with Troop "A" for the past year and a half.
With his appearance at this year's American Legion Post #35 September 11 ceremony, Cyr will be following in the footsteps of another State Trooper, Bob Lonergan, a military Veteran who spoke at last year's unveiling ceremony.
"They had a big crowd there," says Cyr, noting he has viewed Post #35's video recorded at that particular event. And as he prepares his remarks for next week's special speaking engagement, Cyr -- who has been keeping busy working on the couple's house as well as his police paperwork -- says the ceremony and solemn time of remembrance "will be good for all the families [of the fallen]" who will be in attendance.
The ceremony will include color guards from Post #35, the Hampton Fire Department, Winnacunnet High School USMC Jr. ROTC and Hampton Boy Scout Troop 177. Also participating will be the Seacoast Marine Corps League's Rifle Squad. Local singer Elaine Weatherby will perform the National Anthem, and the Invocation will be offered by Post #35 Chaplain John M. Holman.
Refreshments will be served following the ceremony in the Legion Hall. For more information about this event, call Ralph Fatello at (603) 926-4668 or Joe Kutt at (603) 964-6152, or write to the Post #35 GWOT Monument Fund, 69 High Street, Hampton, NH 03842.