A “heavy-hearted proud” in Clovis, CA


7 of America’s best and brightest who fought and died in Iraq and Afghanistan came out of Buchanan High School in the Central Valley community of Clovis, California. The 7th soldier to be killed, Brian Piercy, age 27, was buried on Friday.

There’s no sure answer as to how such a thing could happen. But many people in this Central Valley city have a theory. They say Clovis is an extraordinarily patriotic community and its children are raised on God and country, duty and honor. They’re willing to serve and willing to die, the same as Clovis’ generations who went before them.

Buchanan’s school colors are red, white and blue. The stadium is named Veteran’s Memorial. Former classmates and older siblings come back in uniform for campus visits. Friday night football games include a moment of silence for Buchanan’s fallen soldiers.

“The cheerleaders wear six stars on their uniforms. I guess it will be seven now,” said 15-year-old Julie Thaxter. “We’re not proud they died, but we’re proud they fought. It makes others from here even more ready to go and honor them. My brother wants to join. He’s 14 and he’s been set on it since he was 8.”

Julie works at a peach stand across from the 2,600-student high school. On one side of the street are shaggy-leafed peach trees. On the other, the big, suburban campus serving upper-middle-class neighborhoods that rooted where there were fields and orchards some 25 years ago.

She fiddles with the pink cellphone in her hand, then shyly shows her screen saver: Tony Butterfield, a blue-eyed Marine in dress uniform.

“Two days from now, it will be four years since the day he died,” she said. “I was 11. He’s the son of my mom’s best friend. I knew him all my life.”


The first funeral in 2004 was for Jeremiah Baro, 21, and Jared Hubbard, 22. Best friends since junior high, they joined the Marine Corps together, went to basic training together and died together, killed by a roadside bomb in Fallouja, Iraq, west of Baghdad.

Butterfield looked up to Baro and Hubbard and went to their funeral. He joined the Marines as soon as he graduated. Before going to Iraq, he asked that if something happened, that he be buried next to them. His body lies within 10 feet of their graves at Clovis Cemetery. Butterfield died in 2006 at the age of 19, trying to stop a suicide bomber driving a gasoline tanker filled with explosives in Iraq’s Anbar province, west of Baghdad.

“You all mean the world to me. I hope I’ve made you all proud,” he wrote in his final letter to his family.

In February 2007, Rowan Dale Walter, 25, was killed in an apparent ambush after leaving a tank to help injured soldiers in Ramadi, Iraq, west of Baghdad. At the funeral, his young widow draped her body over the casket. Walter’s father gave a eulogy few have forgotten — a testament from a working-class dad to a free-spirited dreamer of a son.

“I’m looking at …bricks. Rowan, he’s looking at clouds,” Bryan Walter said.

Then in August 2007, the unthinkable: another Hubbard brother killed in combat. Nathan and Jason Hubbard joined the Army after Jared’s death. The brothers had always been close. Each had a tattoo of three interlocking ravens on their left biceps. Nathan said he was joining “to walk in Jared’s boots.” Their mother was pretty sure that older brother Jason — married with a son — was joining to keep an eye on Nathan.

The two were in separate Black Hawk helicopters over Multaka, Iraq, north of Baghdad, when Nathan’s chopper went down because of mechanical failure. Jason’s unit recovered the bodies. He was a pallbearer at his 21-year-old brother’s funeral.

Nick Eischen, 24, died in his sleep Christmas Eve 2007 while serving at Afghanistan’s Bagram Air Force Base, north of Kabul. A member of Buchanan’s class of 2001, he’d played on the same champion football team as Jared Hubbard. When the family couldn’t find the championship ring he loved, Buchanan football coach Mike Vogt gave them his. Eischen was buried with it.

Now, on Friday, a seventh funeral.

Brian Piercy, 27, was 30 days shy of completing his second tour of duty in Afghanistan when he was killed July 19 by an improvised explosive device while on foot patrol in the Arghandab River Valley in southern Kandahar province, on the Pakistani border. The former marching band drummer was the son of a Marine, and one of three brothers who joined the military in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Younger Buchanan students who’d had his mother, Carol, as a junior high school teacher flocked to the funeral of her son. Kids who are now in band, too young to have gone to school with Piercy, also attended, feeling how easily he might have been someone they knew. The minister giving the eulogy said the death wasn’t only a blow to Piercy’s family, but a blow to Buchanan, a blow to Clovis.

“Seven. It’s an unfathomable number,” said Larry Grossi, owner of a gift and cabin decor store in Clovis’ Old Town shopping district.

“We’re not a small town anymore, but we’re connected. If you don’t know one of the families, you know someone who does,” he said on the day Piercy’s body arrived for burial.

A middle-aged woman approached his cash register.

“You ready to be rung up, Delores?” he asked.

“Brian was our neighbor,” Delores Piers told him. “My kids baby-sat him. My first thought when I woke up this morning was, ‘Carol is on her way to the airport to pick up her son in a box.’ ”

“I know,” Grossi said. “It hurt this morning when I saw those motorcycles decorated with flags on their way to the airport — again. I’m proud, but it’s a heavy-hearted proud.”

Old Town is covered with American flags. Not just the half-mast ones flying for Piercy. But all-year symbols of Americana. There are baskets of glittery flags for sale. Little flags stuck in flower pots. Red, white and blue “We Believe in America” placards in business windows.

Cora and Bill Shipley’s corner gift store has flags and framed photographs of the fallen Buchanan grads in the window.

“It makes sense that they were all from here,” said Cora Shipley. “God, country and family, that’s what we believe in, in Clovis. They made us proud.”


Vogt, the football coach, said the best part of his job is running into former students 10 to 15 years down the road and seeing who they grew into being.

“It hurts that I won’t get to talk to Jared and Nick and the others,” Vogt said. “But ‘We won’t forget’ is a Buchanan motto. The new kids coming through Buchanan will know about their sacrifice.”

The day before Piercy’s funeral, Buchanan High Principal Ricci Ulrich, Tony Butterfield’s family, Nick Eischen’s mom and about 40 others cut red-and-white plastic tablecloths into strips and tied them to every tree on the 3-mile route between the church and cemetery.

“We wanted Carol to look out that window and know our hearts were with her,” Ulrich said.

“This is the Buchanan legacy: When any other school or community has a loss, we’ll know what they feel. Our families will be their families. They’ll know that in Clovis, our hearts are with them.”

And America’s hearts should be with the Clovis community and the families of the fallen 7.

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Patriots dying.
Voters dying.
Before most of them have children.
The end of their family line.
Replaced by illegal aliens and their children and their children’s children.

God Bless Brian and may He hold his family and community in His loving embrace! My heart goes out to the Clovis community and I pray we as a nation come to deserve their sacrifice!

Thanks Word, that is the America of the past, the one most of us sorely miss: the one that so many are trying to destroy. God Bless our fallen, God Bless our warriors still in Harm’s Way and those that have come home. May we all walk a little taller today for our fallen heroes.

AUTHOR: Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826)
QUOTATION: The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it’s natural manure.
ATTRIBUTION: THOMAS JEFFERSON, letter to William Stephens Smith, November 13, 1787.—The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Julian P. Boyd, vol. 12, p. 356 (1955).

A related idea was later expressed by Bertrand Barère de Vieuzac in a speech to the French national assembly, January 16, 1793: “L’arbre de la liberté… croît lorsqu’il est arrosé du sang de toute espèce de tyrans (The tree of liberty grows only when watered by the blood of tyrants),” Archives Parliamentaires de 1787 à 1860, vol. 57, p. 368 (1900).

And much earlier Tertullian had said: “Plures efficimur quotiens metimur a vobis; semen est sanguis Christianorum (We multiply whenever we are mown down by you; the blood of Christians is seed),” Apology, trans. T. R. Glover, pp. 226–27 (1931).

America’s Second Greatest Generation is not exempt from poorly planned Foreign Policy,
ignorantly elected Presidents, foolishly appointed Secretaries of Defense, State but go where they are sent out of a sense of Patriotism and Duty from small towns where Public Service means Duty, Sacrifice and bears some sense of Honor for Serving. Service not for self enrichment as our Elected Officials have done but Service in the Face of the Enemies of Freedom and Liberty for “Others”, Our allies or those that suffer under the boots of Tyrants,
Tin Horn Dictators or the ones that the current US Regime admires.

Some of America’s Second Greatest Generation have met their maker, left behind Wives, Children and Parents that expected to be buried by their children and not the other way around.

Clovis, CA and a whole lot of other small Main Street Communities will continue to lose their Finest because Mr. Obama’s War is not going well. Mr Obama OWNS the AFPAK War now as the Pretender in Chief and is now dodging accountability like the other questions regarding his eligibility to be POTUS.

America’s Second Greatest Generation still serves the Nation and the current Regime still serves itself keenly and the Nation, Freedom, Liberty and the Taxpayers in very shoddy fashion.

Now, Bow your Heads and Thank the Idiots that voted to elect the Worst Congress and President ever. Then throw the Bastards out in November.

Old Trooper, don’t forget the purists who sat home and didn’t vote because “Mac” wasn’t the perfect candidate. While I don’t appreciate having to hold my nose while “pulling the lever” for a RINO, there are places (Scott Brown, R The swimmer‘s former seat) a conservative will never be elected. We will never undo all obey-me’s damage without winning majorities!!

Although sad, what a great post. I still wish to believe that most Americans are still like this, but have fallen asleep until something wakes them back up. Old Trooper 2, please don’t call this Obama’s war. Many Democrats as well as those on the left called it Bush’s war and as a veteran of Iraq, it has always been an American war for me. Hopefully, this year many veterans of the war that are running for political office will be elected and we can start to get the country back on a straight course. In 2012, we must vote to put a leader back into the White House and send Obama out to pasture with the likes of Jimmy Carter.

Perfectly stated! How can we be unwilling to even vote, when these patriots, including their families, are sacrificing everything?! Conservatives insistence on “perfect candidates or no vote” are aiding America’s enemies.
God bless these families, as well as, all the others who have given so much for us.

Mr upnorthlurkin, I fought in the Nations last 3 Undeclared Wars and about 6 or 8 interventions
that you may recall if you are over 12 years of age and had access to a decent newspaper that did not line your birdcage.

I was ranch raised in Montana and home schooled til the age of 7 and rode a cutting cattle horse to school for years. Was reading the Declaration of Independence at age 6, the Bill of Rights and the Constitution, had a Sioux American Indian Grand Dad that gave me an education
in The Rights of Man, A Father that jumped into France in 1944 as a Duty as an AIRBORNE SOLDIER, and before You or I was born and was offered Track & Field and Football Scholarships
and Academic Scholarships to both Washington State and the University of Kansas and turned them down because I knew that my Nation was in trouble, not US Government punished Sioux, that needed Soldiers and I volunteered.

I am an American Born Citizen and an American born Soldier and I reckon that you have some confusion on my postings here. I just Retired as a Colonel in the US Army and have returned to a better than 29,800 acre cattle spread in Montana that is not yet an Independent Republic but may be if the US Congress continues to violate the US Constitution.

No Human is perfect but Some have violated the Law. Figure it out for yourself and I hope that the ballot box works it out because the alternertive is the cartridge box that gave US Freedom in 1776…

God Bless America, Our Allies and Good Luck to You. Others Protect You.

OT, what a career!

Old Trooper, I certainly meant no disrespect! I forgot to mention I agreed with your post I guess. My husband was 173rd Airborne in Viet Nam. Sorry if my post was confusing….I guess I’ll go back to “lurkin'”.

IRREPLACEBLE they remain,as they leave and fail to return. we must give the militarys
ALL they need to use for keeping them alive must be a priority of GOVERNMENT in this time of WAR,they are NOT EXPANDEBLE and need our support also; they are the precious protector of this beautifull AMERICA.

I come from a H.S. that is very small in 66 our graduating class numbered 101. This story hits hard. It brings a mist to my eyes, its causes a lump in my throat. We lost three members of that class in a small country called South Vietnam. My generations war. I came home after two tours. 281st Aviation Company, 17th Aviation Group, 1st Aviation Brigade UH1
Just this past June, we put to rest our fourth class mate. He served two tours as a combat medic. Agent orange claimed him. I am attempting to have his name placed on the “Wall”.To me there is no difference if he didnt come home 40 years ago and his “going home”now..He died because of our war. Old troop I dont know you personally but I do know you. Thank you for who you are and what you are

RIP guys u will never b forgotten I LOVE U 🙂