This has been a rough couple of weeks. A week ago Tuesday, we got word that an F-16CG had crashed in Iraq, and the pilot, Maj Troy Gilbert, was officially listed as "Duty Status – Whereabouts Unknown." As I checked the news this morning, I saw that they’d finally listed him as KIA. I didn’t know Troy very well, I only ran into him a handful of times this past summer at Luke AFB when I was in the TX course. He was Gen Rand’s executive officer or director of staff, something like that. I had to coordinate with him the one time I flew with the General. He was a decent guy and a brother Viper driver, and for those reasons alone we in the F-16 community will miss him. He is survived by his wife and five children.
The big, bad surprise was when I phoned home this morning and my Mom asked "Did you know CPT Travis Patriquin?" I immediately knew what had to have happened. Travis was killed a day and a half ago fighting in Operation IRAQI FREEDOM, he was in a HMMWV that was hit by an IED. He is survived by his wife and three children. I confirmed the news via a friend who was close to the scene.
Travis and I were stationed in Friedberg, Germany together, he was S-3 (Operations Plans) and I was the Air Liaison Officer for the 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division. Travis had just left Special Forces, and had participated in Operation ANACONDA in Afghanistan in 2002. When I found that out, I mentioned a couple of my buddies had flown missions there; he told me that if I pointed them out to him, they’d never buy drinks as long as he was around.
Travis and I went through several pre-deployment exercises together, including at least one at Hohenfels and one at Grafenwoehr. After talking with him for awhile, we learned that we grew up about two miles away from one another, so there we were in the middle of the training areas in Germany, 5,000 miles from St Louis, talking about our adjoining school districts’ rivalries. He moved over from the S-3 shop before the Hohenfels rotation to take over S-5 (Civil Affairs) from my other buddy Paul M. He stuck with that job downrange. I’ll include some links to various articles about him at the end of the post.
I don’t meet very many people who impress me very much anymore. Travis was one of those few.
Shortly before the brigade departed for Iraq, Travis and I spoke to one another for awhile. The thing I’ll remember most is when he explained that having been special forces, he could ‘Stare down’ almost any other Army officer, especially in an armored unit. He apparently was making it a point to size up everyone else around him when he arrived in Friedberg. He wouldn’t tell everyone what he’d been doing before arriving in Germany, he just liked to keep it his own private secret that he had been special forces, while all the other folks around him were ordinary "Ground-pounders." He said he remembered introducing himself to my deputy "Tank" and me, and asking what we did. He said his ego quickly deflated when he found out Tank and I were fighter pilots!
Travis may not have been a fighter pilot, but he was a warrior of another sort. He may not have had the eyes of a hawk and the reflexes of a cat. But like a fighter pilot, he had the moxie to look for a career path that would intentionally put him into harms’ way a long way from home with only a handful of his buddies to fight their way in and fight their way out, the guts to do it, and the patriotism to love doing it.
Rest well, brothers! You’ve done everything you could for us. I hope to carry the torch as well as you did.
Links to relevant articles: An Army of Run (by Benjamin Cheever in Runners’ World), Return to Ramadi (by Michael Fumento in The Weekly Standard), and Kuwaittimes.net.
11 Dec 2006 Update: I deleted a link to a news clip from the Chicago Sun and replaced it with one from Stars & Stripes. For any visitors after this date, it will be transparent. New Links: STLtoday.com, good writeup, interview with the family. KSDK, shorter writeup. Randuwa, superb words, thanks! Chicago Tribune, decent writeup.
13 Dec 2006 Update: More for Travis: BLACKFIVE (recommend you scroll down and check out Travis’ PowerPoint show about Ramadi). Michael Fumento (contains some detail of the IED attack). Michelle Malkin (quick photo of Travis’ Desk) See the comments section for this entry, too. Thanks, Daniel and Matthew; you have company in your grief, from Ramadi to Germany to Japan to St Louis; the Good Lord only knows where else!
14 Dec 2006 Update: More on Travis: Cop The Truth, thanks! Shreveport Times (Great city, a bunch of us went there after flying into Barksdale on our T-37 cross-country flight). Patterico’s Pontifications, great stuff, with links to other good milblogs. American Heroes’ Memorial post. DefenseLink. USA Today.
16 Dec 2006 Update: Still more on Travis, it looks like his PowerPoint presentation is catching on in the Blogosphere. There are a lot of track-backs to Patterico and Fumento. One of the sources I read suggested Travis’ vehicle was escorting Lt C
ol (ret) Olliver North and a FoxNews crew. ON Point Blog. MilitaryCity.com. There’s a thread going for him on Lightfighter.net.
16 Dec 2006, 2nd Update: Finally, the MSM takes notice! Thanks go out to ABC’s Martha Raddatz and David Kerley (great entries here and here)!
17 Dec 2006 Update: The arrival in St Louis. Washington Post. I’m trying to upload the now-famous PowerPoint presentation on this page. More from Michelle Malkin‘s blog, plus Hot Air (mostly a tribute to Maj McClung, but contains some footage of SPC Pomante and Travis.
19 Dec 2006 Update: Patriot Guard Riders: Thanks, true Americans! Never Yet Melted, thanks! Iraq/Afghanistan War Heroes. COL Peter Mansoor (Ready 6 "Ancient") just weighed in on BLACKFIVE, his comment says everything you need to know, and praise from him is indeed high praise.
********** End of Updates For This Post **********
I know you have never met me, but I am Travis’ brother, Dan. Travis was not only my brother, but my hero. I have looked up to him my entire life. I have told everyone the stories he would share with us. The pictures he sent home. Right now everything just seems like a nightmare and I will wake up, and this never happened.
Thank you for your kind words, about my Hero. Feel free to contact me anytime.
Thanks, Dan. You can also give me a call or shoot me an e-mail anytime if you need to (AirForce + the number thirteen – at – america online – dot – com).
If you’ll look at the section labeled ‘Pages,’ you’ll see one of the pages I’ve been trying to write is labeled ‘Heroes.’ I put Travis first in the list of military heroes.
I met Travis when I was 17, we both worked at carwash together in ST. Charles. We became close friends and we hung around a lot and went four wheeling and he would have sparring matches with his neighbor. I haven’t talked to Travis in at least 6 years. We sort of lost touch. I always would think of the stuff he would tell me when he got back from different training. I frequentley would wonder what he was doing and he remained close to a friend of ours Aaron Rice.
Travis was and in my mind still is a great man, he did what he believed in, he was man that was as full of courage and character. I admire him. His integrity and his strong beleif in whatever he committed to. I always thought we would hook up again after he was out of the Army. I have been reading about him non stop since I heard on Sunday night. He became an even more amazing person, he was so diciplined in learning and continuing to push himself forward.
I just broke down and started to cry in my office here just thinking about how hard it must be for his family, and how much I will miss not ever getting to be a close friend to him ever again. I never even got to meet his wife or children. If there is anything I can do to help his family please contact me. I am so sorry for anyone who knew Travis because I know that they are feeling a sense of loss that will never be replaced by anyone. He was a truly a one of a kind person who is full life, love, and integrity. I feel nothing but admiration for him as much as I do sorrow, I know he would want to be here for his loved ones more than anything.
Is there any word on the services? Or on a foundation for him?
He was a hero. He is a hero.
please if I can help in any way do not hesitate to call me. 573-356-6000. I work for a bank so I may be able to help offer some ideas on a foundation or something.
I think setting up a foundation or a trust fund for Travis’ kids is a great idea! I’d like to know more, and obviously we need to strike while the iron is hot, as it were.
As I’m in Japan, it’s difficult for me to call. I’ll see if I can have someone get in touch with you, but until then, please e-mail me: AirForce + the number thirteen – at – america online – dot – com. You may get a phone call shortly, but I can’t guarantee that.
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I was reading an article about CPT Patriquin, saw the powerpoint presentation, and remembered I saw your post here. Blown away, I was. Damnit, it sucks that we lost him. What a bright, talented, wise asset.
Anyway, I posted a link up directing people here and the presentation (which is dead on, by the way).
I am a distant cousin of Travis’ and had the distinct honor of meeting him once. (On a seperate occasion I flew him into the desert in a C-5, but didn’t find out about it until after the fact.) Our conversation was brief but fascinating. He was on his way home post Op Anaconda and had many stories to tell. It was truly an honor to meet him, if only briefly. My condolences to the entire family and all with whom he closely served. Please keep me informed of any foundations set up for his family.
his dad is setting up a foundation
I need to say, politics and religion provoke the best as well as the very worst in folk. The very best because both can result in folk being extremely altrusitic, the worst because both can lead to unbelievably stubborn and difficult action. I’m not pointing a finger at you, your post simply made me realize this, so thank you for that.