NEWS RELEASES from the United States Department of Defense
No. 573-06 IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 19, 2006
DoD Identifies Army Casualty
The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
They died in Pech River Valley, Afghanistan, on June 16, 2006, when their all terrain vehicle struck an improvised explosive device during combat operations. Both soldiers were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), Fort Drum, NewYork.
First Lieutenant Forrest P. Ewens, 25, of Washington State.
Sergeant Ian T. Sanchez, 26, of Staten Island, New York
Media with questions about these soldiers can call the 10th Mountain Division Public Affairs Office at (315) 772-7634.
Whitworth lowers flag in honor of fallen graduate
Tuesday, June 20th, 2006
Whitworth College Photo
First Lieutenant Forrest Ewens was killed in action in Afghanistan
SPOKANE, WASHINGTON – Whitworth College paid tribute Tuesday to one of their alumni who was killed in combat in Afghanistan late last week.
Twenty-five-year-old Forrest Ewens, who was a First Lieutenant in the Army’s 10th Mountain Division, was killed along with another soldier on June 16, 2006, when their all-terrain vehicle hit an improvised explosive device while on patrol in Afghanistan.
Ewens was a 2004 graduate of Whitworth who was remembered Tuesday at the Whitworth campus with a flag lowering ceremony, the first of several ceremonies to commemorate the young soldier’s life.
“He was such a vibrant person, just to see him, experience his smile, not every student has that impact, but Forrest was one of those people,” Whitworth History Professor Dale Soden said.
Forrest Ewens was remembered Tuesday as a talented athlete, an incredible leader and a loyal son, brother, husband and soldier.
Ewens spent some of his early years in the Gig Harbor area near Tacoma but grew up in the Chewelah area with his twin brother who also attended Whitworth. He later married First Lieutenant Megan Jagelski, who was a member of the Bulldog Battalion – the joint Gonzaga-Whitworth ROTC program – with her future husband.
After becoming an Army officer he was assigned to the 10th Mountain Division’s 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, based in Ft. Drum, New York.
Ceremonies are planned at the church where he was baptized in the Gig Harbor area on Thursday to pay tribute to Ewens, followed by a military memorial at Fort Drum, New York.
Here in Spokane the flag at Whitworth College will remain at half-staff until Ewens' internment at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
Army officer loses ‘the love of her life'
Husband killed by roadside bomb in Afghanistan
By MIKE BARBER
Courtesy of Seattle PI
As both an Army officer and an Army wife, First Lieutenant Megan Ewens understood the dangers her husband, Forrest, faced when he shipped out for Afghanistan in March.
If anything should happen to her husband, she told a Colonel at Fort Drum, New York, she didn't want to hear it from a stranger.
On June 16, while Megan visited family and friends in Seattle, the colonel boarded a plane and flew here.
At 4 the next morning, he told her that while leading soldiers on a combat mission in the Pesh River Valley, a roadside bomb had taken the life of two soldiers, one of them her husband, First Lieutenant Forrest P. Ewens, 25.
“This was the love of her life. They were so well-matched, such a good team,” the slain soldier's mother-in-law, Elizabeth Arebalos-Jagelski, a music teacher from the Eastern Washington town of Dayton, said Friday as she recalled how the Army notified her daughter.
“We couldn't ask for a better son-in-law,” Arebalos-Jagelski said. “My husband, Tom, said, ‘If I had to handpick a man for my daughter, he'd be right there at the top.' ”
Forrest Ewens, a 2000 graduate of Jenkins High School in Chewelah and a 2004 graduate of Whitworth College, was the son of Michael and Carol Ewens of Gig Harbor. His twin brother, Oaken, just graduated from West Point. Another brother, Eli, is a member of the National Guard in Spokane.
Ewens was the 11th member of the armed forces with strong ties to Washington state to have given his life in Afghanistan since September 11, 2001. With two soldiers who were killed in Iraq, he is among three from this state who died serving the country in war in June.
Private First Class Devon Gibbons, 19, of Port Orchard died June 23 in San Antonio at Brooke Army Medical Center's burn center, succumbing to wounds he suffered in a roadside bomb explosion in Taji, Iraq, on April 11. Sergeant Justin Dean Norton, of Rainier near Olympia, was killed in Baghdad June 24 by a roadside bomb. Gibbons and Norton were among 124 members of the armed forces from this state who have been killed in Iraq since the March 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
Nationwide, more than 2,500 service members have been killed in Iraq while more than 300 have died in Afghanistan since September 11, 2001.
Ewens and his wife both served with the 10th Mountain Division based at Fort Drum. Megan Ewens, who is in military intelligence, expected to be going to Afghanistan in the same battalion with her husband. A shoulder injury that required surgery, however, kept her home, Arebalos-Jagelski said.
Megan Ewens spent last week with her husband's family. Ewens' parents could not be reached for comment.
“She's very professional, so it's hard to see on the outside what she is going through, but I know it is tearing her apart inside,” Arebalos-Jagelski said. It's also difficult to see Ewens' twin, Oaken, in pain. “They were inseparable since birth. It was obvious they were best friends as well as brothers.”
Arebalos-Jagelski said her daughter and Ewens met in the Whitworth College/Gonzaga University ROTC program. Megan, who graduated from Gonzaga in 2003 with a degree in political science, was Forrest's Bulldog Battalion commander.
Her parents met Ewens close to New Year's Day 2004. He planned to propose to their daughter then and let everyone in the family except her in on the secret. “They didn't have a lot of money at that time,” Arebalos-Jagelski said. “So Tom took them out to try to get a temporary engagement ring.”
Ewens proposed Jan. 1, 2004. They were married March 13, 2004, and served at Fort Drum after Ewens graduated and was commissioned.
He fit in immediately. “He won my heart over,” Arebalos-Jagelski says, after writing a funny song about the family cat, Mr. Gray, that she still uses in her music classes.
Ewens would sit transfixed listening to stories from her father, a Korean War veteran who was wounded. Ewens himself spoke eloquently about history. “I thought he would make a great history teacher one day,” Arebalos-Jagelski said.
Ewens deployed to Afghanistan on March 1 this year.
Arebalos-Jagelski said he seemed to lead with a calm, knowing presence. “He was very diplomatic. He could make peace in any situation,” which gave insight into his care for his troops.
Arebalos-Jagelski last heard from Ewens a few weeks before he was killed, when his wife shared a photo and message from him. Ewens was at the 10,000-foot level in a mountainous area of Afghanistan. His unit had endured hardships, subsisting on rations and melted snow, to complete their mission. He was leaning against a rock holding a pen and paper. “He was always writing things down because he didn't want to forget,” Arebalos-Jagelski said.
On Wednesday, the Ewens and Jagelski families will attend a memorial service at Fort Drum. On Thursday, there will be a wake for him in Arlington, Virginia, Friday, he will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
HOW TO HELP
Megan Ewens has established an ROTC scholarship fund for her husband. Donations can be made to the 1st Lt. Forrest P. Ewens Scholarship Fund, c/c Sheri Fitzhum, Gonzaga University, 502 E. Boone Ave., Spokane, Washington 99258-0098.
A Life's Love, Lost at War
Last Goodbye From One Soldier to Another — Her Husband
By Stephanie McCrummen
Courtesy of the Washington Post
Saturday, July 8, 2006
About 1:15 yesterday afternoon, the love of Megan Ewens's life arrived at Arlington National Cemetery's Section 60, his ashes inside a small wooden box, the box inside a coffin, the coffin draped with an American flag and carried on a caisson pulled by six black horses.
Army First Lieutenant Forrest P. Ewens, 25, of Addy, Washington, had shipped out for Afghanistan in March, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. His wife, being the same Army rank, understood the risks, telling a Colonel at Fort Drum, New York, that if anything happened to her husband, she didn't want to hear about it from a stranger, the paper reported.
Major General Forrest Riley presents a flag to a brother of First Lieutenant Forrest P. Ewens, who was killed June 16 in Afghanistan.
Last month, the Colonel flew to Washington. At 4 a.m. the next day, he told Megan Ewens that her husband and another soldier had been killed when their truck hit a roadside bomb June 16, 2006.
The men, assigned to the 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, had been leading soldiers on a combat mission in the dangerous Pech Valley. Now, under a baby-blue sky at Arlington, here came the band, its brass horns shining in the sun.
Here came a black square of marching soldiers, their gold stripes in line, their white gloves swinging like metronomes.
And on the caisson, here came Forrest P. Ewens, who loved history, who wrote a funny song about a family cat to win over his in-laws, who led, they told the Post-Intelligencer, with a calm, self-assured demeanor.
A few weeks ago, he talked to his wife from 10,000 feet high in the Afghan mountains, telling her that his unit had been subsisting on melted snow and rations and that he had a notebook in hand and was writing down all his impressions. He had proposed to her January 1, 2004, and slipped a temporary engagement ring on her finger because he didn't have money for a nicer one.
“This was the love of her life,” Elizabeth Arebalos-Jagelski, Megan Ewens's mother, told the Post-Intelligencer. “They were so well-matched and made such a good team. . . . We couldn't ask for a better son-in-law.”
Six soldiers lifted Ewens's ashes out of the coffin as the band played a hymn, and his wife and other family members and several dozen more people got out of a long line of cars and put their hands over their hearts, or saluted, or just stood still, watching the soldiers glide the wooden box to the grave, then clustering around it. A priest in white robes said a few words.
“May the Lord now welcome him . . .” he said. “We are dust, and to dust we shall return.”
Then a squad of six soldiers clicked their rifles into place and fired three volleys. A bugler played taps and a plane flew overhead, and then soldiers folded the U.S. flag they had been holding tight over Ewens's ashes.
They passed it to an Army Major General, Forrest Riley, then marched off in an arc across the grass, beyond whatever imaginary line separated the ceremony from the rest of the world.
The general knelt and handed the flag to Megan Ewens, who nodded slightly. He handed another to one of Forrest Ewens's two brothers, who are both in the military. And he handed a third to his mother, and soon the straight lines of rituals dissolved into informal circles, into conversations under the sprawling oak trees along York Drive.
The coffin of Army First Lieutenant Forrest P. Ewens, 25, of Washington state, is carried
on a caisson during a funeral ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, Friday, July 7, 2006
First Lieutenant Megan Jagelski Ewens, center, widow of Army First Lieutenant
Forrest P. Ewens, 25, of Washington state, is presented with the flag that draped her
husband's coffin by Major General Forrest Riley, left, during a funeral ceremony at
Arlington National Cemetery, Friday, July 7, 2006
First Lieutenant Megan Jagelski Ewens, center, widow of Army First Lieutenant Forrest P. Ewens, 25,
of Washington state, is comforted by the Army Arlington Lady during a funeral ceremony at
Arlington National Cemetery, Friday, July 7, 2006. Carol Ewens, the deceased's mother, seated
forth from right, and his twin brother who just graduated from West Point, First Lieutenant Oaken Ewens,
second from right, participate in the ceremony. Ewens and his wife both served with the 10th Mountain
Division based at Fort Drum, N.Y.
EWENS, FORREST P
- 1LT US ARMY
- DATE OF BIRTH: 04/15/1981
- DATE OF DEATH: 06/16/2006
- BURIED AT: SECTION 60 SITE 8405
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
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Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard