By Gino Vannelli
I first became acquainted with the passing of Jeff Lucas a few years past at a memorial service in Gresham, Oregon. The room was filled with soldiers of all ages, young widows, children and proud, tear-eyed mothers. Most of the soldiers had seen action and bore battle wounds. It was one of the most difficult performances I ever had to give (I threw up several times before singing “None So Beautiful as the Brave”). I saw firsthand what folks in the military were truly like: humble, giving and courageous –nothing like what I had imagined, certainly nothing like the general media have or are willing to portray. It is their profound sincerity that got to me most.
I was both saddened and inspired by the footage of Jeff Lucas as a young man, attending high school (the same high school as Anton) obsessed with joining the Navy SEALs and eventually doing so to become one of the top SEALs in the country. It hit closer to home than I was prepared for. All in all, an eye-opening event for me.
A few months ago at the local small-town market, I heard talk of the Jeff Lucas Foundation and how they were looking to complete the funding for the Jeff Lucas Memorial Stadium at Corbett High — how much they were still in need of funding for scholarships and Constitutional Studies and field trips to Salem and Washington. I decided then and there to create a video of the song I performed for Jeff’s memorial funeral. In the process I found it quite amazing how highly Jeff was (and still is) regarded, not only in our own community but amongst all who came in contact with him. The Honor Guard happily reenacted their ritual for the camera without coaxing. By all accounts, it seems Jeff was a man of character.
Pat Lucas, Jeff’s mother, supplied us with all the family photos and a few of the highlights of Jeff’s short stay in Afghanistan before his helicopter was hit by a grenade launcher. We are in touch to this day I am hoping to keep Jeff’s memory fresh (as well as all…