I remember the call like it was yesterday. A Wednesday evening and I had just gotten home from work. It was summertime so my hours were reasonable and TJ and I were probably figuring out what to do with the night when my phone rang. Jon Clark was on the other end so something must have been up with our fraternity. TJ could tell by my tone that something was definitely wrong. “Another fire at the house?,” he asked. No this was worse, our friend and brother Augie had been killed that day in Iraq, the victim of a roadside bomb.
Clark had suggested that I call the other “old guys.” It’s funny to me now that at 25 I was considered an old guy, but I got the point, and that’s what I did. I don’t remember who all I talked to that night. Smitty, Jay, Adam…10 more? The same conversation over and over. The same responses. We were immediately all stunned. Then asking about the others that we knew who were still deployed as well. I didn’t cry that night, that came a few days later. The same sting that I felt that evening comes back when I think of Augie and even more so now as I write this 10 years to the day that I got that call from Clark.
Augie had joined the house in 2000, the guy who just liked to hang out. The first time I met him he introduced himself by telling me his name rhymed with foggy. From that point he was a staple around the place. He was a guy you couldn’t help but like. Goofy doesn’t begin to describe his sense of humor. My favorite memory with Augie was our drunken
walk stumble through Illinois’ campus after Ohio State beat the Illini in 2002. Given my state that evening I don’t recall what all we were doing, but the goal was post-game food. I can still picture him being overly excited that we found a Shoney’s. Going into the place and just trying to take a table and not wait for one like all of the others in there. Needless to say we were asked to leave.
I remember many conversations after the call too. Conversations about anguish, guilt and sadness with many of our fraternity brethren. They are the private conversations you have, I suppose, when something like this happens. However, they are the antitheses of the conversations that Augie would have liked. Today, just like every August 3rd for the past 10 years, people I know will post thoughts about and pictures of Augie. Remembering him for what he sacrificed and wishing he were still here today. I’d like to believe that if Augie had his way he would prefer for all of us to focus on the good times we had while we had them. Augie at his heart was the kid in the picture, just a guy goofing around, hanging out, and enjoying the moment.