IRAQ WAR: Eulogy to Army Spc. Luke S. Runyan, a Fallen Hero

(The Department of Defense announced on February 19, 2008, the deaths of Spc. Luke S. Runyan, 21, of Spring Grove, Pa., and Spc. Chad D. Groepper, 21, of Kingsley, Iowa. The two soldiers were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died February 17 in Diyala Province, Iraq, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their dismounted patrol using small arms fire. They were assigned to 2nd Battalion 23rd Infantry Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Lewis, Wash.)

Source: U.S. Department of Defense

A eulogy to Luke S. Runyan, a local man who sacrificed his life for our country, was published in the York Daily Record [York, Pa.], February 25, 2008. It is reprinted here with permission.)

Army Spc. Luke Runyan lived life on his own terms and died doing it.

To all of those he left behind, Luke Runyan will forever be frozen in their memories.

They will recall the energetic child who was described as being more animated than the Cartoon Network. They will recall the thrill-seeker, the guy who liked to ride motorcycles, fast. The guy who loved to surf. The guy whose devotion to his nation and his comrades could not be measured.

To his daughter, 1-year-old Brynn, he will live only in the memories of others. Her father may not be physically present, but he will be there in spirit, handed down moments at a time to Brynn by those who loved Mr. Runyan.

His wife, Courtney, asked him once to write a letter to Brynn, something that could be put away should he not return from the war. Mr. Runyan told his wife not to worry about it, that wasn't going to happen. He was young and tough and smart and had that sense of invincibility that comes with youth and confidence.

He was a thrill-seeker. He put this quote in his high school yearbook: "If you want to be able to experience the ultimate thrill, you have to be willing to pay the ultimate price."

Prophetic words.

Mr. Runyan was doing what he wanted to do with his life when he was killed last Sunday in Iraq. His unit was ambushed in Diyala Province. Runyan and another soldier, Spc. Chad Groepper of Iowa, were killed. He was the 20th soldier with York County ties to die in the war.

Mr. Runyan was only 21.

His biography may be slim, only spending slightly more than two decades among the living, but he lived a lot of life in his time here. He loved life. He loved Courtney. He loved Brynn.

And he loved the guys he served with.

His brothers.

They had a special bond. They witnessed the horror first-hand. They witnessed the worst inhumanity you can imagine. They also witnessed the best humanity, evidenced by the story of Mr. Runyan saving the life of an Iraqi child.

When young men die at war, the word "hero" gets thrown around a lot.

Mr. Runyan was a hero, to be sure. He died so others could live. There is nothing more heroic.

But he was also just a man. A husband. A father. A son.

And no matter what you think about this war, its purpose or lack thereof, its execution or lack thereof, its conclusion or lack thereof, you have to respect Mr. Runyan's service and sacrifice.

"Now . . . it kind of leaves a hole in your heart," said his high school guidance counselor Margaret Mummert.

For now, and forever.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Little Boys Were Sent to Fight

From conniving tongues, lies were flung
to pave the way for war.
Little boys were sent to fight
to return again no more.

He used a country’s broken heart
to mastermind the plan.
He kindled their very real fear
all across the land.

In ancient far off cities
different lies were told
lines were drawn upon the sand
and prophecies were told.

A child lost his father,
a mother’s lost her son
thousands of times over
since the war begun.

Our infrastructure is crumbling
beneath the weight of debt.
Families living on the street
more not less the threat.

Five years ago it began,
with the invasion of Iraq.
Though many of us wish we could,
we cannot take it back.

This infant country is so great
so expansive is our power.
yet we cannot make it right
twice burning of the tower.

Revenge is not an option
without the doer of the deed.
Does anybody feel better
watching those that didn’t bleed?

In six years soldiers will be scarce
and my children will be of age
will they be told they must bear arms
in this dirty war you wage?

I will never dig my child’s grave
because they fought a war
that lined the pockets of those oil men
whose kids stayed safely on our shore.

Written by Yvette Analla
March 2008