By Alejandra Arana |Staff Writer|
CSUSB lost a student soldier May 11 in Afghanistan during a small arms fire fight. Lt. Alejo Thompson came to CSUSB in 2010 to become a U.S. Army Officer and continue his service to this country.
Lt. Thompson was a part of the Army Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) Coyote Battalion program until he graduated in 2010 and moved out of state.
The official released statement read “1st Lt. Alejo R. Thompson, 30, of Yuma, Ariz., died May 11 in Bagram, Afghanistan, when enemy forces attacked his unit with small-arms fire. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colorado,” according to the U.S. Department of Defense website.
News of his death spread to his loved ones and to all the soldiers and cadets he had met through Facebook and phone calls.
“I saw a post on Facebook that a past former cadet was killed in action, it was just a shock. It was also a wake-up call for the seniors on this campus that this can happen after deployment,” said Sgt. 1st Class Isaac Abeyta.
The loss of Lt. Thompson was “a great shock, I still don’t want to believe it. We lost a good Army officer, a good person in general and I am deeply saddened,” said Larry Daniels, who handles paperwork for ROTC cadets and this is how he met Lt. Thompson in 2010.
The last time Daniels saw Lt. Thompson was when Lt. Thompson came to the office with his family to get his files for deployment.
“I said ‘have a safe trip man’ and we exchanged a handshake. He was the type of person that you were drawn to and easy to talk to,” continued Daniels.
Lt. Thompson will be one of the fallen soldiers that will be honored during the Armed Forces Awareness Week beginning May 18- 25 hosted by CSUSB Veterans Success Center and Student Veterans Organization.
On Monday, May 14 the main flags at CSUSB were flown at half mast from morning until noon, this is customary after a soldier has been killed in action.
There will be a 21- gun salute and taps, which is a bugle call when soldiers have fallen, during the Graves of the Fallen on May 21 at 11 a.m. on the Pfau Library Lawn.
There will be a volley of gun shots during the salute so Coyotes who hear the shots shouldn’t be alarmed. During this week of awareness there will be a Tie a Ribbon Campaign where yellow ribbons will be tied around trees on campus to represent the 18,370 California Soldiers, Marines, Sailors and Airmen that are currently deployed.
This is a way to demonstrate that no one forgets about soldiers after they have left our community and that their families and friends are waiting for them to get back home.