Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Army Spc. Benjamin D. Osborn

Remember Our Heroes

Army Spc. Benjamin D. Osborn, 27, of Queensbury, N.Y.

Spc. Osborn was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.; died June 15, 2010 in Shigalwashheltan district, Konar, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked his unit using small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades.

Bethany Osborn got the call from her mother at 4:30 on Wednesday morning. "She wouldn't tell me over the phone," she said. "I knew it was about Ben. I was praying that he had just been hurt."

When she got to her parents' house in the middle of the night, they broke the news. Her brother, Spc. Benjamin D. Osborn, had been killed in combat in Afghanistan on Tuesday morning. "My mind just went blank and I started crying," she said. "It still doesn't feel real."

At the Osborn family home on Ridge Road on Thursday morning, cars filled the driveway, but inside the home a somber silence met each visitor. William and Beverly Osborn, Benjamin and Bethany's parents, were getting ready for a visit by Army officials, who would take the grieving parents away to meet their son's body in Dover, Del.

The body was due to arrive at Dover Air Force Base at 2:40 a.m. on Friday. On Monday, it will arrive at Albany International Airport.

The grieving parents wandered about the house preparing for the trip. William Osborn passed through the living room to grab a newspaper, his head down and silent. Beverly Osborn made an appearance to tell reporters to speak to her only daughter. "We believe in sharing," she said before walking away.

Bethany Osborn wore a gray sweatshirt with the words "Army sister" printed on it in black as she remembered her brother as a child. "He was a jokester, constantly playing practical jokes on me," she said, "following me wherever I went." She said her brother was cut down by an insurgent's bullet after he volunteered to be the gunner during a combat mission with about 20 fellow soldiers. Osborn was targeted and sought out for his role as the sniper, and was shot in the arm and clavicle above his vest.

As an aunt at the home on Thursday walked by the living room, she made a joke about the way Benjamin's sister and his cousins would taunt him, and Bethany remembered painting her brother's nails and "fixing" his hair. "We had three white and black cats," Bethany said, "and we painted them different colors with food coloring."

Bethany said her brother was always the smart-aleck, but would always be there to help friends and family when they needed him. "I remember he was in elementary school when I was in high school," she said. "He would keep his eyes glued on me."

When he saw his sister talking to boys after school, she said, he wouldn't just tell their parents, he would wait until the entire family was together to raise the topic. "He would store those stories," she said. "He was like the All-American boy," Bethany's fiance Travis Birkholz said. "But a big softie," Bethany added.

The aunt walked in and out of the living room on Thursday morning, each time carrying a new photo - of Benjamin as an infant, and a toddler and a child. One photo showed him smiling as he peeked out of a camouflage tent.

The family's home is in Queensbury, but Osborn was a part of the Lake George community. He graduated from Lake George High School in 2002 and worked at various restaurants in the village and town before joining the Army three years ago.

In high school, he played on the defensive line of the varsity football team. He also played baseball.

Down Canada Street on Thursday afternoon, gray clouds hung over numerous flags flown at half staff in front of local businesses and at Shepard Park. Marquees at businesses throughout town expressed condolences and messages of support for Osborn and his family.

"Rest in peace fallen soldier Ben Osborn," read the sign at Mario's Restaurant, where Osborn once worked. "Our hearts and thoughts are with the Osborn family," another sign read. At the corner of routes 9 and 9N, just off Exit 21, the flags were at half staff and yellow ribbons were tied to each pole.

Benjamin Osborn was the youngest of five children. His sister Bethany lives with Birkholz in Warrensburg. Benajmin's brothers - Chris Gill, 44, Bill Osborn, 42 and Jeff Osborn, 40 - live out of state.

Benjamin Osborn was stationed in Fort Campbell in Clarksville, Tenn. His wife of four months, Nicole LaPier-Osborn, attends college in Clarksville, but graduated from South Glens Falls High School. "They hit it off right away," Bethany said about her brother and his wife. The couple met in August of last year, and were married in February.

"It was beautiful and I know that Ben was so excited," she said about the big wedding. In three weeks, Birkholz and Bethany Osborn will celebrate their own nuptials.

As the aunt at the home on Thursday came into the room, she said Benjamin had told his mother he didn't want to get into a serious relationship because the Army could send him away at any time. "She told him to live his life," she said.

On June 15, Spc. Benjamin D. Osborn was killed in action in Afghanistan. Powder Magazine Editor Mike Rogge, a childhood friend of Osborn, eulogized his fallen compatriot on Powder's site today. The story recounts taking Osborn to Gore Mountain, NY for his first day on skis. We all know how harrowing that experience can be, both for the beginner and his mentors. But, according to Rogge, one of the day's mentors:

Ben, however, made the most of his first day on snow. Instead of overcompensating for his lack of skill, he had us cringing in bellyaching laughter the entire day. He'd tell insane, over the top stories to strangers on the lift about being an Olympic hopeful or being the head of ski school or that he co-invented twin tip skis. He had done his homework and every ride up he talked the talk. It took everything in our power to hold back the laughter of our newbie friend saying he, "got shafted by the Olympic mogul team" to one of Gore's race coaches. Of course, then he'd get off the lift like a complete [heck] show, crashing horribly and taking the ski coach with him. We'd find ourselves on the ground with him, laughing hysterically.

Read the full eulogy at Powdermag.com.

Army Spc. Benjamin D. Osborn was killed in action on 6/15/10.

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