They came from opposite American shores, with different personalities and interests. Spc. David Fahey Jr. was raised near New York City, loved the Yankees and was always ready with a joke or funny story. Sgt. Jason Weaver grew up near Los Angeles, cheered on the Green Bay Packers and had a sarcastic wit.
The Joint Base Lewis-McChord community gathered Wednesday to recall the shared bond between the two soldiers, both assigned to the 170th Military Police Company. Fahey and Weaver died three days apart in the Kandahar province of Afghanistan in separate roadside bomb attacks.
“One of the things they had in common was living by the motto, ‘deeds, not words,’” wrote Lt. Col. Clay Padgett, commander of the infantry battalion to which the company was assigned. “Without question, Spc. Fahey and Sgt. Weaver served with the bravery and distinction few can fathom outside of those who wear the uniform.”
His remarks were read before hundreds of mourners at the first memorial service held at Lewis-McChord since September, a sign of the decline in the number of local soldiers serving overseas. The number of South Sound soldiers in Afghanistan or Iraq has dropped from an estimated 18,000 last year to about 1,500 now, according to the Army.
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The danger continues, however, and speakers Wednesday recalled how Fahey, 23, and Weaver, 22, faced it confidently and willingly. During down time, they tried to lighten the mood for their peers.
Weaver, who died March 3, was described as a cornerstone of his platoon.
“For the soldiers in his team, he cut an impressive figure as the point man at the front end of many of their patrols, a position he volunteered for time and again,” Padgett said.
In his remarks read at the service, the company commander, Capt. Andrew Sergent, said Fahey had participated in every mission since arriving last summer.
Both soldiers had an affinity for children. Fahey would often challenge Afghan youth to a friendly arm-wrestling match, while Weaver would look after the kids who surrounded him on his long foot patrols.
Sergeant recalled Fahey, who died Feb. 28, as being a favorite target of jokes. His squad mates would often tease him about his proficiency in hitting every pothole when he was at the wheel.
Sgt. Jose Velasquez said Fahey was excited to serve his country and then return to his family and serve his community.
Fahey “was a great guy, a great soldier, but most of all, a great friend,” Velasquez said.
Spc. DeAna Flores recalled Weaver saying he looked forward to returning home to California. She promptly asked why he wanted to go back to a state with the same air quality as Afghanistan – but with less dust. Weaver was somewhat irritated, she said, but laughed off her comment by saying he hoped she enjoyed cold and rainy Washington.
Those brief moments of levity were overshadowed Wednesday by an atmosphere of deep grief. Weaver’s mother, Patricia, sobbed throughout the ceremony.
As she paid her final respects, she cried out, “Oh, Jason, I love you so much. I’m so proud of you.”
Christian Hill: 253-274-7390 firstname.lastname@example.org