Chippewa Valley newspapers 11/21/03
Family, Town Grieves For Fallen American Hero
By Barbara Lyon
© 2003 The Chippewa Valley Newspapers
- Family, Town Grieves For Fallen American
- Note - With every new death in Iraq comes
more pain, anguish and irreplaceable loss...for American and
Iraqi families alike. There are no winners in war. We, too,
feel these losses and present the following story in tribute
to all of our precious, heroic young men and women who made
the ultimate sacrifice or have been wounded serving their
- 2nd/Lt. Jeremy Wolfe of Menomonie,
who died Saturday in a collision of two Black Hawk
helicopters near Mosul, Iraq
- Two symbols of our war in Iraq -- an
American flag and a yellow ribbon -- were displayed
prominently at the David "Butch" Wolfe residence
in rural Menomonie Monday afternoon.
- The hope that the yellow ribbon symbolizes
-- for a soldier's safe return home -- is gone. Inside, a
family sits in shocked grief as they realize that never
again will they share a joke, a hug, or a story with the
tall, handsome soldier who smiles up at them from the
photographs carefully arranged on the dining room table.
- It helps them, though, to know that
2nd/Lt. Jeremy L. Wolfe -- their son, husband, grandson,
nephew, cousin -- has died doing something he loved to do.
- "He loved flying helicopters,"
said his mother, Jane (Cass) Utpadel, of Wheeler. "He
knew the risks; he wasn't going over there blindsided."
- Proud to be a "Screaming Eagle,"
Wolfe was a Flight Platoon Leader with the 101st Aviation
- On Saturday night, Wolfe was among the 17
soldiers -- all members of the 101st Airborne -- who died
just after sundown when a pair of Black Hawk helicopters
collided in mid-air over a residential suburb outside Mosul,
Iraq's third largest city. Unconfirmed reports indicate that
Wolfe was the pilot of either a helicopter carrying a quick
reaction force or another that was taking a group of
soldiers on a transport mission.
- Shortly after the crash, a U.S. officer in
Mosul who declined to be identified told Reuters that one of
the aircraft was hit on the tail wing by a rocket-propelled
- Despite the fact that both a house and a
school were hit by the downed helicopters, no civilian
casualties have been reported.
- The incident marks the largest loss of
American life since the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom in
March. In addition to the 17 who died, the casualty count
includes five soldiers wounded and one missing.
- College or Army?
- That was the question Wolfe pondered after
graduating from Colfax High School in 1995. During his high
school career, Wolfe (then known as Jeremy Cass) attended
both Colfax and Menomonie High Schools. He joined the
National Guard during his junior year.
- "He went to UW-Stout for a year and
worked at Wal-Mart" recalled Wolfe's father, Butch.
"But working and going to school got to be too
- After talking to an Army recruiter, the
young man told his father that he'd been offered his choice
of duty: Fort Bragg, N.C., or Schofield Barracks in Hawaii.
- "We both raised our hands and I said,
'Aloha,' Butch said. "He always wanted adventure in his
- Although Wolfe entered the service as an
enlisted man, the Army offered him many opportunities for
advancement. After two years, he attended Ranger, Airborne,
and Jump School. His excellent record earned him a Green and
Gold Scholarship and a chance to go to college.
- While his wife, Christine Tadeo (whom he
met in the Army) went to Hawaii State, Wolfe spent four
years at Hawaii Pacific University, graduating with honors
in 2002 with a degree in computer science.
- Only one out of 30 in the nation, he was
chosen for officer training in Great Britain. In the
meantime, Christine headed for Ft. Bliss in Texas for
- His return stateside saw Wolfe headed to
flight school in Ft. Rucker, Ala. where he graduated among
the top five in his class, with special training in night
vision and tactical combat flight.
- The next stop on the young officer's
journey was a posting with the 101st Airborne Division in
Ft. Campbell, Ky. before being deployed on Oct. 4 to
- He and Christine joked about the fact
that, as a First Lieutenant, she outranked her husband.
Wolfe was scheduled to receive his commission as a 1st/Lt.
on Dec. 1.
- The couple married, Butch explained, so
that they could be stationed together but despite their
hopes, that was not to be. Just last week, Christine
returned to the States after a year-long posting to South
- As soon as Wolfe arrived in Iraq, he went
from tent to tent looking for his second cousin and fellow
member of the 101st Airborne, Spc. Scott Peterson.
- Back home in Menomonie as of Sunday on a
two-week leave, Peterson expressed how glad he was to see a
face from home.
- "One day about a month ago, he came
into my tent asking if anybody knew where I was," he
said. "It was really good to see him."
- Although he'll miss seeing him in the chow
line, Peterson noted, "He was proud of what he was
doing and wanted to be there."
- His father, John Peterson, is Butch's
cousin, although according to Wolfe's grandmother, Goldie,
the pair grew up more like brothers.
- "He was an all-American, outstanding
kid," the elder Peterson observed. "Jeremy really
excelled in the service, read a lot of history about the
Army. It looked like he was planning on making the military
his life's career."
- Memories of a fine young man
- Menomonie High School physical education
teacher Connie Stokes enjoyed having Wolfe in her class.
- "He was a very nice young man, very
polite -- a good kid," she said. "I wasn't
surprised to hear he was in the Service."
- Joe Doucette, Colfax High School track and
girls basketball coach, also shared fond memories of a young
man he described as "a very talented kid, part of a
group of some pretty good kids. He ran cross country and was
on the track team and just kept getting better and
- One of those "pretty good kids"
was CHS teammate, Adam Topper, now MHS cross country coach.
- "During the track season in the
spring of '94, Jeremy and I were part of the Second-Team
All-Conference 4x800 meter Relay team," he said.
"I had a lot of respect for him because he worked
pretty hard and paid a lot of attention to details. He
always brought a positive attitude to the team and was
always trying to get the other guys on the squad ready to
- "I remember that our relay had a slim
chance of making it to State that year and Jeremy really
spent a lot of time trying to convince everyone that we
could do it and looked for ways that we could improve,"
Topper continued. "Primarily what I remember about
Jeremy is his odd sense of humor, his work ethic and his
attention to detail."
- Bob Peterson, a retired MHS social studies
teacher and track coach, remembered Wolfe from both
geography class and the track field.
- "He made it a point to visit with me
during the Dunn-St. Croix Invitational track meet in
Menomonie," he recalled. "Jeremy was a very nice
- "He was fun and lighthearted, never
any trouble," Butch said. "My son always had his
hand out to help anyone. If he thought they could do it,
he'd push them to do better."
- "He was also the apple of his
grandma's eye," he noted, pointing to his mother,
Goldie Wolfe as she sat listening quietly to her son's
recollections. "They had a very special
- "He was always looking after
me," Goldie agreed.
- His eyes welling with emotion, Butch
concluded, "Jeremy was not only a leader, he was an
officer and a gentleman. We're very proud of him ... and
we're really going to miss him."
- Remembering the huge dimples he sported as
a baby, Wolfe's mother described her son as a very intense,
focused, and complex individual.
- Still reeling from the shock, Utpadel
said, "You always figure it's going to be somebody
else. He made so many good friends in the military,
especially down in Alabama. This is going to be really hard
on them, too."
- She'll miss his long, rambling phone
calls, telling her in detail about all he was doing and
- "We just sent him a package with a
pillow and some aftershave," she added. "He said
he was having a hard time sleeping with the pillow they gave
him. I wonder who'll get it now."
- A memorial service is being planned at Our
Savior's Lutheran Church in Menomonie at an as-yet
unspecified date. Olson Funeral Home will handle the