Army Sgt. Lucas T. Beachnaw
23, of Lowell, Mich.; assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, Camp Ederle, Italy; died Jan. 13 in Darya Ya, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when enemy forces attacked his unit using small-arms fire.
(Taken from www.mlive.com of Jan. 15, 2010) LOWELL -- Kevin Beachnaw's heart sank as he opened the door Wednesday night to see two U.S. Army representative standing before him.
"Being from a military family, I knew ...," he said, choking up.
They told him his 23-year-old son, Sgt. Lucas Beachnaw with the 173rd Airborne Infantry, had been killed Wednesday in Afghanistan in small arms fire.
"I can't stop crying," the father said Thursday from his Charlotte area home. "I feel like my eyes are burning."
He had just chatted on the telephone Tuesday with his son about the daily rigors of Army training school, deer hunting and sending him a care package of venison summer sausage and jerky.
A 2004 Lowell High School graduate who joined the Army in 2006, Lucas was on his second tour in Afghanistan after being deployed in December. His earlier deployment was a 15-month stint in 2006 and 2007.
A squad leader, he was on patrol in eastern Afghanistan when a firefight erupted and he was killed, family members said.
Lucas' death was the third by a soldier or airman with West Michigan ties who died supporting U.S. military operations in Afghanistan since the war began Oct. 7, 2001. Twenty-eight other military personnel from West Michigan have died in Iraq since the war started in March 2003.
Relatives described Lucas as someone who liked outdoor sports, particularly snowboarding, and who had a knack for humor.
"The first thing he did was make you laugh," said his sister, Terra DeLong.
Her brother was a man who "lived life to the fullest" and took advantage of his military station in Vicenza, Italy, to see the sights, including Rome. He once called her from a snowboarding trip to The Alps.
"He called just to rub it in, that he was on the top of the mountain," she said.
Beachnaw went through sniper training last year and earned the top-gun honor as best in his class, an achievement he was proud of, his family said.
In October, he successfully completed a three-week school on helicopter landing zones and air navigation that has a high failure rate among participants.
Beachnaw was back in the States in July for DeLong's wedding and in October for the navigation training. She moved her wedding to July from the fall so her brother could attend.
"I wasn't going to get married without my brother being there," she said.
Beachnaw came from a family with a history of military service. DeLong served in the U.S. Air Force. His grandfather, Donald Beachnaw, was a career Army man with 37 years service.
Another sister, Jamie Beachnaw, described her Lucas as "the kind of person everyone loved. Whether you knew him for a week or his entire life, you loved him.
"He never did anything small. He did everything huge," she said.
Family members said he talked about joining the ski patrol in Colorado if he ever left the Army.
Lucas loved playing with Jamie Beachnaw's 3-year-old daughter, Emma, but had not yet met her 4-month-old son, Brock.
She wants her children to know his sacrifice.
"I just want to make sure they remember him as a hero," Jamie said.
Lucas is survived by his father; his mother, Jeanne Beachnaw, of Lowell; and his two sisters.
Arrangements are pending, but family members say the funeral and burial will be in Lowell.
The U.S. Department of Defense had not formally announced the death as of Thursday night.