This year marks the 10th anniversary of our graduation from West Point. The decade since our hats touched the sky and landed back on the turf of Michie Stadium has been both very long and very short. In that time, 13 members of the class have died serving their country in combat operations--the highest casualty rate for any class since the Vietnam War and almost as many as the entire list of KIAs from USNA. In total, counting accidents and other circumstances, 16 members of the class are no longer with us. As my class's unofficial historian, I have started a series of posts in our class's Facebook group to commemorate each fallen member of our class as our 10-year reunion approaches. Below are the ones so far. I'll update this thread as the dates pass in the hopes of reminding bright-eyed cadets and proud parents that this is not a line of work to be taken lightly. For many of your forebears, the choice of how to best get to grad school or post-military opportunities took a back burner to the rough business of war and leading the world's finest soldiers in combat. You, the cadets and future graduates, will inherit their legacy. You dare not squander it. Best wishes to all in your upcoming endeavors. CPT Paul W. Pena was killed in action on 19 January, 2010, in the Arghandab Valley of Afghanistan. He was 27 years old. Paul was commanding Company A of 2-508 Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4BCT, 82nd Airborne Division, at the time of his death. Raised in the San Marcos, TX area, Paul is best remembered as being loyal, funny, and often quiet. He enjoyed his music and was a talented drummer in his spare time. He loved punk music and loud concerts, but also excelled at military tasks and was a proud Eagle scout. Paul was a DMI major and planned to make the Army his career. He is survived by his mother, Cecilia Pena. She has established a small annual scholarship in Paul's honor at his high school alma mater, San Marcos Baptist Academy, and visits him frequently at the Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery where he was laid to rest. Well done, Paul. 1LT Jacob N. Fritz was killed in action near Karbala, Iraq on 20 January, 2007. He was 25 years old. Jacob was serving with 2-377 Parachute Field Artillery Regiment, 4BCT, 25th Infantry Division at the time of his death. He was captured during a complex infiltration of his Joint Security Station in the Karbala provincial headquarters. Jacob was a self-described "farm boy" from Verdon, Nebraska. Stocky and athletic, he excelled as a three-sport athlete and was also a talented baritone player in high school. He had hoped to make the Army a career and then return to Nebraska to follow in the family tradition of farming. "Fritzy" is best remembered for his big laugh, big smile, upbeat nature, and his unsurpassed love for his Nebraska Cornhuskers. He is survived by his parents, Lyle and Noala Fritz, and his brothers Daniel and Ethan. Daniel is a member of the USMA Class of 2008. Jacob was laid to rest in St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church Cemetery in Falls City, Nebraska. He was posthumously awarded the POW Medal. Well done, Jake. 1LT Garrison C. Avery was killed in action in Baghdad, Iraq on 1 February, 2006. He was 23 years old. Gary was serving with 1-502 Infantry Regiment, 2BCT, 101st Airborne Division at the time of his death. He was the youngest member of the Class of 2004 to fall in combat. Gary is fondly remembered for his genuine humility and his intense drive to improve the world around him. He focused many of his efforts on helping Iraqi orphans and children affected by the war. Friends and family admired him as a deep and intelligent thinker--a trait he relied on when it came to tackling the problems of securing a lasting peace in Iraq. During his cow year, Gary laid the groundwork for a non-profit with the goal of taking on the worst problems facing Iraqi orphans, and later spent much of his time deployed working with local leaders to strengthen schools in Baghdad. Friends recall that Gary often modified his equipment to improve its usefulness in combat, and that he sewed pockets for knee-pads into his BDU pants years before the Army made them standard issue. The son of Gary M. and Susan, he was raised in Lincoln, Nebraska, where his parents still reside. He graduated from Lincoln High and followed in the footsteps of many of his family members by fulfilling his dream of serving in the Army. Gary is survived by his beloved wife of eight months, Kayla, as well as his parents and three siblings. He was laid to rest in the West Point cemetery. Well done, Gary. CPT Daniel P. Whitten was killed in action in on 2 February, 2010 in Zabul Province, Afghanistan. He was 28 years old. Dan was commanding Company C, 1-508 Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4BCT, 82nd Airborne Division at the time of his death. He perished alongside one of his soldiers when their vehicle was attacked with an explosive device while on patrol. Dan is fondly remembered for his outrageous sense of humor and his abiding passion for the arts. He was counted by many as a loyal friend, and brought equal parts intellect and laughter to any situation. He was an insatiable reader and enjoyed learning all he could about the world, whether by book or through his extensive travels. Dan originally hailed from Grimes, Iowa, and was a graduate of Johnston High. While in school, he excelled in football and honed his passion for writing on the school newspaper staff. He is survived by his parents, Dan Whitten and Jill Whitten, and his sister, CPT Sarah Frederickson. Dan left behind his beloved wife Starr Oliver Whitten, sister of classmate Rick Oliver. He is interred at the West Point Cemetery. Well done, Dan.