Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Army Pfc. Jason D. Hasenauer

Remember Our Heroes

Army Pfc. Jason D. Hasenauer, 21, of Hilton, New York.

Pfc. Hasenauer died near Kandahar, Afghanistan, when his HMMWV accidentally rolled over during patrol operations. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Died on December 28, 2005.

When two uniformed Army men and a chaplain walked up to his driveway Wednesday morning, Daniel T. Hasenauer knew his son had died. But he also realized that his son died doing the job he wanted to do for years.

Pfc. Jason Hasenauer, 21, of Hilton was killed Tuesday in Afghanistan when his Humvee rolled over because of a roadside bomb. Four other men were in the Humvee and were injured, but Hasenauer was the only fatality. The incident is under investigation.

"We would always talk about life and issues he was having in Afghanistan. We would share everything with each other, so I didn't just lose a son ... he was also my best friend," said his father.

Hasenauer, who was assigned to the 82nd Airborne in Fort Bragg, N.C., was a 2003 graduate of Hilton High School and a member of the Hilton Fire Department.

He was set to come home on Valentine's Day and talk about setting a date to marry his fiance, Colette Kopp of New Jersey, and baptize his 3-week-old daughter Kayla Hasenauer, who was born Dec. 2.

Hasenauer had seen his daughter only through photographs and pictures online.

"He was looking forward to watching his daughter grow up and putting her to bed for the first time," said his mother, Rita Hasenauer.

The Hasenauers are a military family with three generations in the Army, Navy and Air Force. Following in their older brother's path, Danny Hasenauer, 19, will enter the Army Reserves, and Jeremy Hasenauer, 15, plans on joining the Coast Guard.

The family spent Thursday afternoon at home receiving friends, family and a chaplain and starting to make funeral arrangements. Three flags on their lawn were lowered to half-staff.

"He taught me not to let fear take over and to conquer obstacles," said Jeremy Hasenauer. "He was my hero and my role model."

Danny Hasenauer said he'll miss his brother's selfless nature.

"He always just wanted to make people happy and help out. He joined the Army because he wanted to help people beyond where he lived," he said. "He wanted to help the troops bring freedom."

His father said he will miss hunting with his son and camping at the family's property in the Southern Tier, which were two of Hasenauer's favorite hobbies. Even though he enjoyed such sports as wrestling and floor hockey in high school, joining the Junior Firefighter Explorers at 14 became Hasenauer's youthful passion.

"(Hasenauer) was dedicated to the point where he'd been calling the fire department on a weekly basis even while in Afghanistan, and even as late as Monday just to find out what was going on in the department and to say 'hi,'" said Hilton Fire Chief Mark Kalen, adding that Hasenauer became a full-fledged volunteer firefighter at age 18.

The fire department lowered its flag and posted a sign outdoors with the words "In Memory of Jason Hasenauer."

"He showed people respect, and in this day and age, you don't see a lot of kids that age who do," said Jim Mackenzie, a volunteer firefighter.

Fire Capt. Joe Lissow, another volunteer firefighter, said there were times Hasenauer was driving down the road, would see a firefighter's wife unloading groceries and would stop and help her put them in the house.

"He was just an awesome man, and it is just so devastating," Lissow said.

"Every time he was home, he always checked in with the fire department."

Grief counselors will be available when students return to class on Tuesday at Hilton High School and Merton Williams Middle School, said district spokeswoman Barbara Carder.

She said district officials want to provide support for Hasenauer's brothers - Jeremy, a sophomore; Eric, 12, a seventh-grader; and Daniel, a 2004 Hilton High graduate who is a part-time janitor in the district. The district also wants to offer support to the brothers' friends and teachers.

Army Pfc. Jason D. Hasenauer was killed in action on 12/28/05.

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