Tuesday, October 6, 2009

I Honor Your Service: Hamden Man Dies in Afghanistan Attack

Veterans of Vietnam often talk about that moment when they heard of a friend from their high school or town being killed in action. This was the moment that the war touched home and ceased to be an abstraction. Draft numbers got lower, and more folks got sent. It was getting personal...maybe not so much at first because an acquaintance killed in country was not the same as a dear friend. But, over time, days, months, and years, those vague faces became faces more dear. There is a statistic that is often cited by policy makers, military experts, and the like that once you know someone from your high school class who was killed in a war, then the war becomes personal...and it is a sign that it is escalating. For us, Afghanistan is going to be our long war. And we must not forget that Afghanistan is the graveyard of empires. The question then becomes, will it be one name listed on the epitaph of American empire, or will it be one more country listed--like Western Europe in the dark days following World War 2--as part of our honor roll of success and greatness. Only time will tell.

Captain Sklaver is the first person from my high school that I am aware of (and who I remember) to be killed in Afghanistan or Iraq.

I wish peace for him and his family. Strength and honor Captain Sklaver. Your service and volunteer work was and is respectable negro behavior.

Hamden Man Dies in Afghanistan Attack

Hamden (WTNH) - Funeral services will be held Tuesday for a Hamden army captain who was killed by a suicide attacker in Afghanistan. Gov. Jodi Rell has ordered flags at half staff in his honor.

Army Capt. Benjamin Sklaver was killed on Friday, the governor said in a statement.

"He was a hero, in my eyes. He defended his country. I'm at a loss for words," said Carl Saraceni of Hamden.

Sklaver, 32, was on patrol in Muscheh, Afghanistan, when his unit was ambushed by a suicide attacker.

Sklaver was a graduate of Hamden high School and went to Tufts University. He was part of the Army's 422nd Civil Affairs Battalion, which concentrates on building infrastructure.

During his first tour of duty in Uganda his mission was bringing clean water to villages. When that tour ended, he still worked on that goal. He set up a charity -- Clearwater Initiative -- that works to bring drinking water to people in Africa.

It was yet another reason for pride from his friends and family.

"They were very proud of him. He was an all American boy who evolved into a humanitarian in his early adulthood," said Tom Koppel.

Members of Hamden's American Legion Post were saddened to learn the news. They pledged their complete support to the Sklaver family and plan to place flowers at the City's Veteran's Memorial today.

"On behalf of our state, I extend our deepest sympathies to his family at this most difficult time," Gov. Rell said Sunday. "And I ask everyone in Connecticut to keep all our soldiers, sailors and airmen, who are far from home, in our thoughts each and every day."

Capt. Sklaver was due to be married in June.

Funeral services for Capt. Sklaver will be Tuesday morning at 10:30 a.m. at Congregation Mishkan Israel at 786 Ridge Road in Hamden. He will be laid to rest at Farband Cemetery on Route 109 in the Town of Morris.

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