|From Salem-News.com salem-news.com
Salem-News.com (Jan-19-2009 00:25)
Oregonians Turn Out for Service of Major Thomas Egan
Tim King Salem-News.com
Thomas Egan had been living alone and without a roof over his head when he died. He had friends and at least one distant relative, but this vet passed away as a forgotten man.
Memorial for Maj. Thomas L. Egan ret.
(EUGENE, Ore.) - Maj Thomas L. Egan was a retired Oregon National Guard officer who the world seemed to forget, and then remember, but just a little too late. The 60-year old veteran was found in mid-December frozen to death on a Eugene, Oregon sidewalk, near the corner of West First Avenue and Blair Boulevard.
This veteran was remembered and honored Saturday at the Oregon Guard Armory in Eugene at 1:30 PM. One of the people sure to attend events like this is Q. Madp of OurWarHeroes.org.
Long before this site that documents every life lost in Iraq and Afghanistan, Q began founded Vietnam War Heroes. This site documents the lives of those who served during the Vietnam War.
He says he counted 53 people in attendance for Major Thomas L. Egan's memorial service. He said there were also 23 members of the Patriot Guard Riders, a group that makes a point of honoring those who served.
Based on what is known, Thomas Egan had been living alone and without a roof over his head when he died. He did have friends and at least one distant relative, but this soldier slipped through the cracks as all too many veterans do in this age, Madp says.
"You know, he had no family, so we all came as a family to honor him. He had a couple of friends who attended and also a couple of people who served with him."
He continued, "We spend billions of dollars helping people in far away places who don't like us, but we have veterans freezing to death in this country."
Madp says it is a bad situation and more outreach needs to take place for American veterans, many of whom are stricken with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of their military service and contribution to their country.
Regarding Thomas Egan's homelessness and reported alcohol problem, Madp said, "It almost sounds like they're trying to make it his fault, and maybe it is, but we the people should have helped him."
At least two retired Oregon Guard general officers attended the event Saturday; underscoring the care that does exist for people like Major Egan.
"We should not forget and neglect our veterans, yet it takes place all too often," Madp said.
I asked Q if he believes this case to be isolated.
"Hell no" he answered. "This one people are hearing about because his friends who cared pushed it into the media. If people hadn't pushed it the way they did, I think his death would have just gone to the side."
Eugene's KVAL TV news and other organizations did take the time to cover the memorial for Major Egan. It is a sad loss and a sad story, but there was respect for him in the end.
For more images from the service, please visit Q Madp's
Turn Out for Service of Major Thomas Egan (VIDEO)
|From KVAL TV, Eugene kval.com
Friends remember homeless veteran
Story Published: Jan 17, 2009 at 5:48 PM PST
By Molly Blancett KVAL News
EUGENE, Ore. - Major Thomas Egan didn't have a home. He didn't have any family. But he sure touched a lot of people. Nearly 100 people showed up to pay their respects to a him, a man who friends call a stubborn Irishman, a crazy troublemaker and an eternal jokester.
Chaplain John Dinsmore recalled a time they were looking at a map together.
"There would be an area that was called the 'dud area' and he'd say well they've got a pizzeria, this should be called a duderia," said Dinsmore.
Kate Saunders went to college with Egan in Connecticut. She said Egan was intellectual, earning a Masters Degree in journalism from the University of Oregon. But Saunders said that intellect wasn't enough to overcome addiction to alcohol.
"He was really smart just not a very wise man," said Saunders.
For fellow veterans, Egan's life and death on the streets hit too close to home.
"I think that's what's so emotionally wrenching for us all," said Dinsmore.
After the stories, they said their final goodbyes, in the most appropriate way possible, with full military honors.
|From The Register-Guard
Eugene, Oregon registerguard.com
Memorial for a friendA family of friends honors a veteran of the Army and National Guard
By Jack Moran
When he froze to death last month in Eugene, Tom Egan didn’t have any living relatives.
But that’s not to say he didn’t — or doesn’t — have a family.
“It’s a family of friends,” retired Oregon National Guard Brig. Gen. Raymond Byrne Jr. said of the group that gathered Saturday at the National Guard armory in Eugene for a memorial service. They honored the life of Egan, a man whom Byrne referred to as “our brother.”
Egan’s death troubled many local veterans — especially those who came to know him during his 20-year career with the Army and the Oregon National Guard.
For them, details of Egan’s demise were difficult to accept.
A passer-by on the morning of Dec. 16 found Egan’s body partially covered in snow near the corner of West First Avenue and Blair Boulevard, a bottle of liquor by his side.
At the time, the 60-year-old had been homeless for several months.
It was a tragic ending to a remarkable life.
Egan joined the Army in 1971 and was stationed at the demilitarized zone in Korea for two years. He was reassigned to the Oregon National Guard in 1977 and ultimately attained the rank of major.
During his military career, Egan was awarded several service medals and ribbons.
Before he entered the service, Egan earned a bachelor’s degree in history from a Connecticut college. In 1983, he gained a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Oregon.
In recent years, several friends who saw Egan’s life spiraling downward tried to help him get back on track.
But in the end, many said the sharp-witted, good-humored soldier of Irish descent chose the life he led.
“He was a very stubborn man, and he was very proud of that,” said Kate Saunders, who met Egan during the 1970s when both attended college in Connecticut. “But he was a good and generous friend.”
At the conclusion of Saturday’s memorial service, a uniformed soldier presented a folded U.S. flag to Saunders.
In traditional military funerals, the flag is given to the family of a veteran or fallen soldier.
The flag presentation wrapped up an hourlong ceremony in which Egan received full military honors, complete with a three-volley salute and the playing of “Taps.”
Without any relatives to plan a funeral or burial for Egan, the responsibility fell to the local residents who knew him.
Spearheading the effort was Eugene resident Russell Bloom, who served in the military with Egan and became the person who received and doled out to Egan payments from Social Security.
“I’m very pleased with the way this (funeral) turned out,” Bloom said. “We wanted him to get full honors, and that’s what he got.”
Also involved in planning the tribute was Penny Simpson, who runs a transitional housing program for veterans and soldiers through a local organization called Vet Net.
“We kind of feel obliged to do this for (Egan), because we were not able to get to him in time to help him,” Simpson said. “His whole life and his whole family was the military.”
“He was a great soldier and a good man, and he deserved to have a good send-off,” she said.
Egan’s remains will be interred in the Willamette National Cemetery in Portland.