ARLINGTON, Va. — Marine Sgt. William J. Cahir, a former news reporter and congressional candidate, was laid to rest with full military honors Monday at Arlington National Cemetery.
Cahir, 40, died Aug. 13 of an enemy gunshot wound while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. - Associated Press, August 31, 2009
I did not know Sgt Cahir but I respect him. When I joined the US Army at age 23, I was considered the Old Man in my platoon. When I retired at the age of 49 I was considered a living fossil. I have nothing but respect for a man who signs up during wartime, at the age of 35. -Sean Linnane
The Death of Sgt Cahir
by John Guardiano
I didn’t know Sergeant Cahir personally; in fact, we never met. But I certainly knew of him. We were both enlisted Marine Corps Reservists who had served with the 4th Civil Affairs Group (CAG) in Iraq. I had returned from my one and only deployment (in 2003) when Sergeant Cahir was preparing for his first deployment with the CAG (in 2004). With great warmth, enthusiasm and affection, several of the Marines had told me about him. “There’s another journalist in our unit!” they exclaimed. “And like you, he asks a lot of questions! He’s also old, too! I think he’s like thirty-five!” For a lot of the younger Marines, Sergeant Cahir’s enlistment was the confirmation that they sought and needed — especially as they were about to go to war. Confirmation that their decision to enlist was a smart and wise decision. Confirmation that there was nobility and wisdom in that decision. Confirmation that even older, better educated, and more professionally accomplished men and women join the Marine Corps and serve in the Marines’ enlisted ranks.
I had been there myself once not too long ago. Indeed, like Sergeant Cahir, I was 34 when I enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve after September 11, 2001. I, too, had worked on Capitol Hill (at the Heritage Foundation) and as a journalist, and had labored in other capacities within the Washington, D.C. policy arena. But whereas I completed just one modest deployment before reluctantly leaving the Marine Corps to earn my commission as a Naval Reserve Officer, Sergeant Cahir remained with the CAG for three full deployments.
His first two deployments were to Iraq, where Sergeant Cahir earned the Combat Action Ribbon, the Navy-Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and the Navy Meritorious Commendation Medal, among other awards. This civic-minded Marine (there is no other kind of Marine really) left his job as a journalist in 2008 to run for Congress in his hometown in Pennsylvania’s 5th District. Cahir narrowly lost the Democratic Party primary, but captured 35% of the vote in a seat that was ultimately won by the Republican Party candidate, Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson. Sergeant Cahir was born in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. He graduated with honors from Penn State before moving to Washington, D.C. where he would build his career. Cahir’s first job was as a staffer for Senator Kennedy on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. He then worked as a legislative assistant for Pennsylvania Senator Harris Wofford. Last spring, Cahir embarked on his third deployment in six years, this time to Afghanistan.
The funeral was both sad and uplifting. Sad because you mourn the loss of such a great and noble spirit in the prime of his life. Your heart cries out to his wife and to their two unborn children (the couple’s first) who will never know their father. And you cannot help but think, “There but for the grace of God go I.” And you realize that life isn’t fair, and that war takes from us the best we have. You want to call for a do-over, like you did so often as a kid playing ball with the neighbors in your backyard. You want to call for a do-over so that you can restore Sergeant Cahir’s life: because his life was that good and that important — to his family, to his friends, and to his fellow Marines, his comrades-in-arms. And to his country. But then you realize that in matters of life and death, war and peace, there really are no do-overs. War consumes a country and a people, and especially the warriors who fight it. And a Marine once dead cannot be resurrected (at least not here on earth), no matter how much we wish that it were so.
I left Sergeant Cahir’s funeral with a deeper appreciation for the fragility of life and the relatively short time that we all have here. You don’t remember the last article that you wrote (at last not for very long), or the last report that you prepared, or the last work project that you completed. You do remember, though, the last joke that made you laugh, the last good conversation that you had, and the last good story that someone told you. You remember the people — their strengths and their weaknesses, their virtues and their failings, their kindness and their grace, their quirks and their idiosyncrasies. Their decency. Their camaraderie. Their humanity.
Sergeant Cahir’s death is a tragedy, but his life was heroic and inspiring. And it is his life that we celebrate and must not forget: because by remembering Sergeant Cahir’s life, we ennoble and better our own.
Semper Fidelis, William J. Cahir, Sergeant, United States Marine Corps.
Note: readers can contribute to the Bill Cahir Memorial Fund here. All donations will be used for the education and care of Mr. and Mrs. Cahir’s two children, who are expected to be born in December. Checks and money orders also can be sent to:
Burk and Herbert Bank
c/o Mark Ragland
P.O. Box 268
Alexandria, Va., 22313
He was a United States Marine, killed in action defending Freedom and our American way of life. Honor him. - STORMBRINGER SENDS
This story ran today in NewMajority, posted here with permission. There is a tremendous thirst for news from the combat zones; part of the mission of Blog STORMBRINGER is to help deliver that information.