EGLIN AFB — An Army 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) soldier killed nearly 10 years ago in Afghanistan has been remembered in a touching letter to his family from a high-profile Ohio State University football player.
The letter is one of many written to families of fallen soldiers by Ohio State football team members as a special Memorial Day project. Thus far, it is the only letter made public by a recipient family.
Written by Nick Bosa, a standout defensive end who could be a top five selection in next year's NFL draft, the letter was sent to the family of Sgt. Nicholas A. Casey, a Canton, Ohio, native.
Casey died Oct. 27, 2008, in Baghlan Province, after being wounded when a suicide bomber detonated explosives as Casey and other soldiers were entering a building. He was 22 years old.
"My name is Nick Bosa, and I am a junior football player at Ohio State," Bosa said in the letter, handwritten on Ohio State football stationery. "The fact that I am able to get up every day without questioning my security makes me unbelievably proud to be an American and thankful to have brave heroic people like Nicholas watching over me. For Nicholas’ family members, I want to say that he will never be forgotten, and the courageous acts that he did will also be appreciated not only by me, but everyone on the team.
"We will never forget but also cherish the loving memory of Nicholas Casey."
Casey's brother, Sam, posted two photos of the letter on Twitter, along with posts reading "If this isn't the coolest thing ever," and "New favorite Buckeye of all time! Thank you @nbsmallerbear (Bosa's Twitter account)."
Ongoing reaction to the letter apparently jammed Sam Casey's Twitter account, judging from a June 4 tweet reading, "R.I.P to my Twitter but the love and support has been amazing."
Sgt. Nicholas Casey's death came three years before the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) moved to Eglin Air Force Base from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, but his name appears on a plaque affixed to the group's Memorial Wall at its compound near Crestview.
Col. Patrick Colloton, 7th Group's commander, took notice of Bosa's letter, saying that seemingly small acts like writing a letter have great impact on the families of fallen soldiers, and inspire other soldiers to carry on their duties.
"The low-key gesture of reaching out and thanking the family of a fallen member of the military, and of the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) speaks to the heart of why we serve and why we remember," Colloton said. "For this college athlete to take the time and recognize the sacrifice of our fallen comrade and their Gold Star Family, without seeking publicity, shows what great character this young man has.
"What may seem like small acts have great impact to a family that has lost a member, and for the military units that memorialize their fallen, it keeps their memory alive," Colloton added.
For this#MemorialDay, our players composed letters to families of military members who lost loved ones. The message: Your hero will not be forgotten.
We remember all those who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedoms & their families who carry on their legacy.pic.twitter.com/vmDYVAzkwG
Ohio State's football program released a video via its Twitter account on Memorial Day featuring some of the players reading from their letters. In the video, available online at bit.ly/2sHJjyp, Ohio State student Jarod Gray, a military veteran, tells players, "These families that we are about to write these letters to have lost people and had their whole lives changed. It's going to mean everything to these folks."
The players also got some guidance from Michael Carrell, director of Ohio State's military and veterans services program.
"The thing that I would tell them each time is, 'We will not forget you,'" Carrell told the players as they sat down to compose their letters.
Bosa could not be reached for comment on his letter. He did mention it on Twitter, though, in a self-deprecating comment on his near child-like scrawl.
"My handwriting stinks I know," he wrote. "I'm a lefty if that helps my cause ... ."