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Ultimate Sacrifice Honored in Ceremony at MUB

By Jody Record, Campus Journal Editor
July 20, 2011

The names of Army Chief Warrant Officer Christopher R. Thibideau and Army Pfc. Michael Cook were added to the War Memorial  by Staff Sgt. Jacob Riccotti (top left) and Spc. Jason Austin (top right) during a ceremony in the MUB July 12.  Mike Ross, Photographic Services.

When Lt. Col. Patrick Testerman stepped forward to honor the memories of two New Hampshire soldiers last week, he offered a quote long attributed to the Irish statesman Edmund Burke: “All that is necessary for evil to prevail is that good men do nothing.”

“We are here to memorialize two men who did not do nothing,” said Testerman, commander of the Air Force ROTC at UNH. He was speaking at a ceremony held July 12 where the names of Army Chief Warrant Officer Christopher R. Thibideau and Army Pfc. Michael B. Cook were being added to a plaque in the state’s Memorial Room, located in the MUB.

“Both of the men died not doing nothing,” Testerman said. “They died doing something for their country.”

Thibideau, formerly of Marlborough, died May 28 in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan. A helicopter pilot assigned to the 1st Battalion, 4th Combat Aviation Brigade out of Fort Hood, Texas, he was killed three weeks before he was due home.

Cook, formerly of Salem, died June 13 on his 27th birthday during a rocket attack in Iraq. He had been in Iraq since November 2010, serving as an advisor for Iraqi national police at a base in eastern Baghdad.

During the brief ceremony, Testerman said that, prior to leaving for Afghanistan, Thibideau had told loved ones not be angry if he died because he would have died doing what he loved. He described Cook as someone who was always volunteering for something. In 2010, he volunteered for the Army.

Testerman noted the soldiers’ sacrifices were ensuring today that evil will not triumph. He reminded those in attendance that “there are hundreds of thousands of men and women out there” working toward the same goal.

Larry Brickner-Wood, UNH chaplain and campus minister, also offered words of comfort during the memorial ceremony, saying one way to remember people is through telling stories.

“These names will not be forgotten. Each name in here tells a story,” Brickner-Wood said of the names inscribed on plaques in the room whose stained-glass was designed by the late John Hatch.

Thibideau and Cook’s names will be added to the more than 2,700 names men and women of New Hampshire who have died while serving in the armed forces. The 24-panel window was the first of its kind when it was installed in 1957.  The memorial room was dedicated in 1953 by Gov. Hugh Gregg prior to its completion.

At the end of the ceremony, Brickner-Wood read a Native American ode:

“Hold on to what is good, even if it’s a handful of earth.
Hold on to what you believe, even if it’s a tree that stands by itself.
Hold on to what you must do, even if it’s a long way from here.
Hold on to your life, even if it’s easier to let go.
Hold on to my hand, even if someday I’ll be gone away from you.”

Click here for more information on the memorial: http://www.unhmub.com/memorial/list.htm.

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