Sergeant Sean Luketina

Some days are indelibly burned into your memory. For me, one of those days is June 30th. Today is the day that Sergeant Sean Luketina died. I did not know Sean before Operation Urgent Fury; but, there has not been a day that has passed that I have not thought of him.

I live near the ocean. I find that the massive expanse of the sea helps me to put everything in perspective. Today Hurricane Alex is bearing down on the Gulf Coast south of where me and my family have made our home. In a strange way I find the immense power of a hurricane calmly reassuring. It helps me to feel small. I know too well what it is like to get caught up in the whirlwinds of life and the storms that churn in the Gulf of Mexico offer an affirmation of proportion in all things.

James Taylor sings the song “Walking Man” that I have never been able to get out of my head for many, many years. It is only now that I am beginning just now to add meaning to the last part of the opening refrain:

 Moving in silent desperation

Keeping an eye on the holy land

A hypothetical destination

Say, Who is this walking man?

 Who is this walking man? I am: a husband; the father who dotes on his daughter; always the paratrooper; eyes on the sky wishing to fly…again; a college graduate; a font of trivial knowledge; a teacher, sometimes the muse; always the seeker of truth; and I am the survivor of tragedy unspeakable.

Sean and I were wounded side by side in the misdirected air strike that took my legs. Sean was evacuated immediately as it was determined that he had the best chance of surviving. Me? If you ask Jean-luc Nash he will tell you that they really didn’t know where to start. I was a perfect mess.

It was a month later that Sean went into the coma. He was suffering from uremic poisoning and it was during the operation that the doctors at Walter Reed removed his legs that he went into the coma from which he would never awake. It was shortly after that that I got a letter from his mother. She told me about her son who had also lost his legs. She was looking for answers. She did not know that Sean and I had been shot in the same incident. I am not sure she found comfort in the truth that I wrote her. I can only hope that she did.

I visited Sean’s grave in Arlington in 1994 on the tenth anniversary of his death. I did not know that his mother had chosen to be buried with her son. It was a touching display of motherly devotion and this sight on the green fields of Arlington haunts me to this day:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He died one day shy of his 24th birthday.

Who is this walking man?

I am the keeper of memories of fallen heroes.

Rest in peace my brother.

Hardcore Harry

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27 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Sir,

    Did you know that there is a building on Fort Gordon, GA named in honor of Sean Luketina?

    Brian

    • Yes, I have it as one of the places I need to visit one day.

  2. Sorry email down, sean was one of my rto’s I had just been moved to 307 med from assualt cp plt and was on Grenada when airstrike was happened,this time of year is bad for me,going thur ptsd, what unit were u in. Retired in 95, I can be contacted at 580 917 4945 lawton,OK, hope to hear from u

    • Look me up on Facebook. I would love to talk with you!

    • Hello, I am SSG Larry Riddick currently serving in the 82nd Airborne Division G6. I am trying to find pictures of SGT Luketina, we would like to dedicate one of our conference rooms to him. If anyone on here can send them to me or send me a link to find some that would be greatly appreciated.

      Thank you

  3. Sean used to visit me in DC when he was home and we would raise hell, ride motorcycles, he loved life like no man I have known, His sister Heather and I were friends. I visited at Walter Reed after his injuries and amputation and talked with him between comas. Thank you for your thoughtful comments. Tim Ryan, Lcpl USMC

  4. Earlier this week, as another man who was there that day shared this story with me, tears welled in his eyes and his voice began to fail him.

    As I listened and watched this man re-live his experience, struggling to contain his grief some 28 years later, I was deeply moved and more than a little ashamed that I had inadvertently re-opened old wounds.

    The circumstances of this story, that these losses were incurred because someone made a damned mistake, make these sacrifices that much more tragic.

    Those who fall in the service of our nation, should have nothing less than the deepest respect and heart felt gratitude of us all. And those who paid the ultimate price and are now at rest here at home and on distant shores, must always be remembered and honored for their service.

    Thank you for creating this page, for sharing your experience and above all, for the freedoms that I enjoy because you and so many others answered the call and served.

  5. I served with the 82nd airborne division and I was a radio repairman. I saw Sean the day before we were called out, I had a brief conversation with him as I checked his radio, he cracked a few jokes and we had a good laugh. I think of him everyday, I remember his great smile as he left the shop. I told him to be safe and his reply was “Ok Staff I’ll see you soon”, I never got to see Sean again. Sean was a young man full of life and a smile that would light up a room. A delightful young man, a Soldiers Soldier. It was a privileged to have served with Sean, I will never forget him. Thank you for this page and thank you for your service. God bless. SSG Wilfred Perez

    • Hi Wilfred, I am Sean’s older sister, Shannon. I just found this website tonight & left a comment, so I thought I would say hello and thank you for writing such great things about my brother. I would love to hear about any stories you have of him that you would care to tell me. Do you have any pictures? Our dad took all of mine and never returned them. Take care! Shannon

      • Shannon – how are you? I was a USMC friend of Sean’s and dated Heather for a brief time. I visited Sean in the hospital, sorry no pictures. Loved to ride Motorcycles with him, he always pushed the edge on a bike. He used to visit me in Arlington, and I went to visit him at Bragg, and we stopped by to say hi to you. Loved that man. Say hi to Heather, and good luck in your search for photos. Tim Ryan (415) 299-3816 sftryan@aol.com

      • Hello Shannon! My name is Penny Goodall. Formerly Penny Pierce, from Lake Lynn. We were such good friends when we were small. I happened upon this post about Sean after seeing the building named for him at Fort Gordan. So sorry he was lost! Just wanted to say hello and tell you I have never had another friend like you. Stay blessed, hope you have had a wonderful one. . I am on FB if you might wish to make contact.

      • Shannon, my name is Command Sergeant Major O’Brien. I was in Bco 82nd Signal Battalion from 1977-1985. I knew Sean personally. He was a great soldier and was deeply missed. Our whole unit was stunned when he died. I know the whole story. He is in my heart and prayers every day

  6. I was just remembering back to my time in 82nd Signal Bn tonight and thought of Sean. I did a search and found this. He was a good guy and remember him very well while I was in B Co. Thanks for the page.

  7. I loved Sean, and I still do. Not a day goes by that I do not think of him. He was a gentleman and although you all served with him on the battlefield, Sean and I shared something deep that only a man and a woman can share. I am also a veteran, was stationed at Fort Gordon. He would come to visit and we would ride together. Peace to all you brave men.

  8. Hi! I am Sean’s older sister, Shannon. I accidentally came across your website when I typed in Sean’s name. I had left a message in Sept. on Military.com (another accidental find) looking for anyone who knew my brother and might have pictures of him, or stories to tell me. I was contacted (amazing!) by Todd Harris, who has been helping me find info about Sean’s painting & memorial at Ft. Bragg, and trying to find links to people who knew him. This is so strange that I found this site, as Todd called me today with all kinds of info and who to call about his painting,etc. THANK YOU for this site! I never knew that so many other people missed & remembered him as I do. Helps me feel a little less lonely. Does anyone have any pictures of my brother? PLEASE let me know- I don’t have contact with anyone else who knew him. With gratitude… S

    • Shannon,
      Hopefully this message will reach you or someone can relay it too you. I can say that I knew Sean, Heather and you very well. I lost track of all of you when we were young. (Lake Lynn was full of memories) I was also in Grenada and was aware of the incident when it happened, but not who was involved. Unfortunately I did not find out about Sean until after he had passed. His unit would not release any family info to me, so again lost contact. Also sorry to hear your mom passed. Hope this reaches you, and you respond.
      Dave

      • Hi Shannon. You may not remember me as I was younger and believe you were not living with your mom by the time Heather and I became friends. I have lots of old photos that I have recently began organizing. If I come across any of Sean I’ll be sure to share with you. I would love to reconnect with Heather if you have contact for her or if you will give her mine. 910-850-5752. Your mom was one of the nicest people I’ve ever known and I still think of her. I lost contact once she left Fayetteville. Like many, I remember Sean and his big smile. The most memories I have however, are him harassing Heather, he loved to get under her skin. 🙂 I know the pain of loosing a brother never goes away, it just becomes tolerable. Hope to hear from you.

  9. A true hero in my eyes. I’m just a teenager who happened to become very close to his father who lives in my neighborhood. We never talk about his son, but I think of him, and I will go on to serve for Mr. Luketina.

  10. Wow what a surprise to stumble across your blog. Sean, Ann and Heather lived behind me growing up. I remember him as being a funny guy with a big smile and he and Heather were the world to Ann. (They had an older sister but I didn’t know her well). One can only imagine Ann’s pain those last few years and I know a piece of her died with Sean. I would love to reconnect with Heather if Tim Ryan has her contact info. Thanks for remembering this wonderful soldier and his family. 910-850-5752

  11. If you don’t mind me asking, what was the date you were injured? I’m trying to do a Line of Duty for guy who says he was in Grenada after the end of combat operations between March and April 1984 and he doesn’t have any evidence he was there. I thought he may have witnessed the misdirected airstrike or the impact.

    I don’t mean to disturb the reverence of the page.

    MAJ Fountaine, USAR, one tour Afghanistan

  12. My name is Brian Luketina, and Sean was my cousin. I was only an infant when Sean was killed in Grenada, but have thought about him admirably for as long as I can remember encompassing the next 30 years. Harry, I want to thank you for your service and unparalleled devotion to our country. Additionally, your praise towards our family hero, Sean, is a true memorial to his life. Additional thanks to the brave men who talked, knew, served, and shared moments with Sean. I would love to hear more!
    God Bless, Brian

  13. I am Sean’s cousin, Ben. I wrote this way, way back after he died. The story is as I was told and hope I didn’t get anything wrong in the lyrics.
    Sean: http://youtu.be/Iz-yCzgEkgg

    • Hey cuz..
      My sister found this site and thought I should add a link to the song Sean. I agreed and here I am. How are you? My mom has searched and searched for you to no avail. Can I pass your number on to her?

  14. My name is Command Sergeant Major O’Brien. I knew Sean personally. He and I were together in Bco 82nd Signal Battalion. I was there from 1977-85. He went when I was held back at green ramp. He was a sharp soldier and I respected him. SGT LaRue held him in his lap when he died. SGT LaRue actually joined the French Foreign Legion after that and came back to go SF. One of the buildings in Bco is named after him. He has been in my thoughts and prayers ever since. He was a friend. patrick.obrien@dynosi-gs.com.


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