Monday, December 24, 2007

Air Force Senior Airman Nicholas D. Eischen

Remember Our Heroes

Air Force Senior Airman Nicholas D. Eischen, 24, of Sanger, Calif.

SrA Eischen was assigned to the 60th Medical Operations Squadron, Travis Air Force Base, Calif.; died Dec. 24, 2007 at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, in a non-combat-related incident.

Fresno Bee -- Another Buchanan High School graduate has died while serving in the military, the sixth from the Clovis school since the beginning of the war in Iraq.

Senior Airman Nick D. Eischen, 24, died Christmas Eve while stationed at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. A military spokesman said Eischen's death was a "noncombat incident" and under investigation.

Tim Rolen, pastor at New Hope Community Church in Clovis, said the Eischen family was told the airman died in his sleep.

Eischen graduated in 2001 from Buchanan and played on the varsity football team. He was in the same class and was friends with Lance Cpl. Jared Hubbard and Cpl. Jeremiah Baro, Marines who died in a roadside bombing in Iraq in November 2004.

Eischen is the third Buchanan graduate to die this year serving in the military. In August, Army Cpl. Nathan Hubbard, brother of Jared, died in a helicopter crash in Iraq. In February, Pfc. Rowan Walter was killed by an explosive device in Iraq.

The loss of so many soldiers from one high school is difficult to understand, said Rolen, who visited Eischen's family at their Clovis home Wednesday.

"For some reason, there was an incredible commitment to country and family from that particular school," Rolen said.

The losses have been devastating to Buchanan, said Mike Vogt, Eischen and the school's football coach: "I hate to say this, but it makes you wonder, 'Who's next?' It makes me nervous. It's disconcerting."

Vogt said that Eischen was not a star player, but was dedicated to the team and well liked. He played offensive tackle.

Jason Baca, a teammate, recalled Eischen bulking up to become a key component of the team his senior season.

Josh Lopez, another teammate, said he remembers Eischen making friends easily.

"That probably kept with him when he went into the military," he said.

For Lopez, 25, losing another fellow Buchanan graduate and another high school friend has not been easy.

"It's really tough. It puts a sick feeling in your stomach," he said. "Especially losing all these guys you knew and sweated with and played ball with."

Clovis Unified Superintendent Terry Bradley said: "Obviously, it's a very tragic thing and a very difficult thing, especially for teachers, staff members and coaches who have been very close to these young men."

Cliff Eischen, Nick's grandfather, said the family was not ready to speak publicly about Nick's death on Wednesday.

"He was much loved, much respected," Cliff Eischen said. "The family just wants time to deal with their grief."

Rolen said the family received the news of Eischen's death Christmas morning. They knew of no health problems. He had been assigned to the 60th Medical Operations Squadron from Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield.

Services will be arranged by Boice Funeral Home in Clovis, but a date has not been set, Rolen said.

Eischen was married to wife Leah and had a 2-year-old son, Braeden. A younger brother, 22-year-old Drew, is in the Army stationed at Fort Campbell, Ky. He was with his parents in Clovis, where he is recovering from shoulder surgery, when the news came about his older brother.

"It was a shock, but they have the support of some very good friends," Rolen said.

Rolen had known Nick Eischen since he was about 12 and a first baseman on the Babe Ruth team Rolen coached.

Rolen said Eischen was well-mannered with a mischievous side as well: "You knew he was kind of up to something by the smirk on his face."

Rolen ran into Eischen in the Sierra Vista Mall in September, shortly before he was sent to Afghanistan, and recalled his firm handshake. Rolen said he then added Eischen's name to the church's list of soldiers to pray for.

Air Force Senior Airman Nicholas D. Eischen died in a non-combat related incident on 12/24/07.

1 comment:

Martha said...

GOD BLESS YOU, AF SENIOR AIRMAN NICK EISCHEN! GOD BLESS YOUR FAMILY, AND MAY HE COMFORT THEM IN THESE DARK DAYS OF SORROW!!

I am so sorry for their loss. I am the mother of a soldier who, thank God, came home from Iraq, alive and well. My heart hurts for your loss!

~Martha