U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 1011-07
August 16, 2007
DoD Identifies Army Casualties
The Department of Defense announced today the death of five soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died August 14, 2007, in Al Taqqadum, Iraq, of injuries suffered when their helicopter crashed. They were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 52nd Aviation Regiment, Task Force 49, Fort Wainwright, Alaska.
- Chief Warrant Officer Christopher C. Johnson, 31, of Michigan.
- Chief Warrant Officer Jackie L. McFarlane Jr, 30, Virginia Beach, Virginia
- Staff Sergeant Sean P. Fisher, 29, of Santee, California
- Staff Sergeant Stanley B. Reynolds, 37, of Rock, West Virginia
- Specialist Steven R. Jewell, 26, of Bridgeton, North Carolina
The incident is under investigation.
Army Staff Sgt. Sean P. Fisher, 29, Santee; among 5 troops killed in helicopter crash
2 September 2007
The call from her son, Army Staff Ssergeant Sean P. Fisher, came August 13, 2007, at precisely 5.30 a.m.
He usually called home at least once a week during his military tour in Iraq.
“I told him, ‘Honey, take care of yourself. Don’t be a hero. I want you home safe,’ ” Fisher’s mother, Maria, recalled. “He said, ‘Don’t worry, Mom, I’ll be fine.’ ”
The following day, 29-year-old Sean Fisher was dead.
He was among five soldiers killed August 14, 2007. when their CH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed during a post-maintenance test flight at the Taqaddum air base in central Iraq, according to the Department of Defense.
Fisher, of Santee, California, died of injuries suffered in the crash. He was a flight engineer assigned to the 1st Battalion, 52nd Aviation Regiment, Task Force 49 at Fort Wainwright, Alaska. It was Fisher’s second deployment to Iraq.
“He was a wonderful kid and such a good son,” his mother said. “I’m going to miss him so much.”
Fisher graduated from Granite Hills High School in El Cajon.
Teacher Gene Kraszewski clearly remembers the young man, who was in his American government class during his senior year.
Although the students in the class were not a college-bound group, Kraszewski said Fisher stood out. During one lesson in which the students had to simulate a session at the United Nations and represent different countries, Fisher quickly assumed a key role.
“He organized the group and did well getting [the students] to do their project,” Kraszewski recalled. “It showed leadership and his ability to work with a group of people.”
Fisher is the second Granite Hills student to die in Iraq in the last year, Kraszewski said.
Before enlisting in the Army in 2002, Fisher held various jobs, including stints at a McDonald’s and a local casino. “Everywhere he worked, he always gave it his best,” his mother said.
But his love was mechanics, and joining the Army gave him the opportunity to become skilled in helicopter mechanics, she said.
“I tried to talk him out of it. I was fearful about him going to Iraq,” the anguished mother recalled. “But he said, ‘Mom, that’s what I want to do.’ ”
Ten days before his last deployment to Iraq, Fisher went home to see his mother. She threw a picnic celebration in his honor.
The soldier had recently bought a pair of black-and-white shoes, the type of classic footwear that used to be worn by entertainers such as Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly.
“He called them his dancing shoes,” his mother said. “So I went out and bought some Mexican music, and we danced and danced.”
Relatives videotaped the spectacle. “He was so happy that day,” his mother said, adding that she plans to cherish his shoes forever.
Melissa Volentine, 27, Fisher’s girlfriend, also treasures memories of him.
“He was fun. He loved life,” Volentine said as she wept. “And he tried to turn everything into a positive situation.”
The couple had planned to marry. In the last e-mail Fisher sent to Volentine, she said he wrote that “he couldn’t wait to spend the rest of his life with me. He said he had a shiny surprise for me.”
Volentine received a letter from Fisher the day he died.
“He said he was keeping me in his dreams,” Volentine said. “He was picking out our house he was going to buy in Alaska.”
Fisher’s sister Jennifer said she wanted her brother to be remembered not only as a military hero, but a sibling hero.
“As we were growing up, he was always a good big brother. He was always protective, always there to stick up for me,” she said.
She said she also was inspired by his optimism and his drive to surmount any challenge.
Fisher’s mother spoke with pride as she recalled the numerous accolades her son received for achievements during his service, such as being a member of a high-altitude rescue team while stationed in Alaska.
She acknowledged being upset that her son had to die in a war she described as “not necessary to begin with,” but said she supported her son after it was clear he had made up his mind.
“He wanted to do something, not only for his country, but wanted to better his life for his family,” she said.
Fisher’s mother said she had received hate mail for publicly expressing her concerns about U.S. involvement in the Iraq war and for wanting President Bush to “bring our boys home.”
Shortly before his death, Fisher reenlisted in the Army for five more years.
He was buried with full military honors August 24, 2007, at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, near San Diego.
Addressing the mourners gathered at the cemetery, Army General John McMahon praised Fisher as someone who was always “there for his comrades.”
“Sean did something he loved,” the General said. “He watched over his buddies.”
Fisher was awarded a Bronze Star for meritorious service.
In addition to his mother, he is survived by a 6-year-old daughter, Bailey; and five siblings.
NOTE: There will be a group burial for this aircrew at Arlington National Cemetery on Friday, 3 October 2008, following services in the Post Chapel at Fort Myer, Virginia.
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