My name is Thomas M. Logan, and wife Debi and I are the parents of U.S. Marine Corporal Joseph Daniel Logan. Joey and his crewmembers, Captain Daniel B. Bartle, Captain Nathan R. McHone, Master Sergeant Travis W. Riddick, Corporal Kevin J. Reinhard and Corporal Jesse W. Stites lost their lives when their helicopter crashed into the mountains of Afghanistan on January 19, 2012. They were flying their second combat mission that night. These brave men were professional, decorated veterans who went into battle for our country without hesitation. They loved this nation and the Marine Corps. My son’s death has caused great grief in our family and the families of his fellow Marines. They were honored by their unit, the HMH-363 Red Lions, and are called the FALLEN SIX.
Let me tell you what we are going to do to honor our Marines. We have purchased 164 acres of land in Montana to build six cabins, one to be dedicated to each of our Fallen Heroes. This was Joey’s dream that started four years ago. It was paid for with all the money he had saved from two deployments to Afghanistan and his life insurance policy. Joey bought this piece of Heaven with his life’s blood. He wanted to build a cabin so that we could hunt and fish in the mountains and invite all his Marine Heroes to enjoy what he loved. The kid had a big heart and love what he was doing.
This all started the summer after Joey graduated from Willis High School. I asked him if he wanted to go fishing this summer and he Said, “let’ s do it!” He had no idea what an adventure he was in for. I knew he had made up his mind to join the Marines and there was no turning back. This trip was a lifelong dream of mine and what better kid to share it with. I was called a fishing fool by my dear wife. A fishing rod was glued to my hand. I had planned this trip and told Debi what I had in mind. I remember her saying, “go for it”. Joey and I even went and got passports. He asked why we needed them, and I told him everyone needed one.
The plan was to fish every Rocky Mountain state that had trout in it. And we did. It started in Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Oregon, Washington, we crossed into Idaho and then Montana. He loved Montana and told me when he got out of the Marines he was going to live there. What a dream for a young man just starting out. From Montana we crossed over into British Columbia, Canada and over into Saskatchewan. We fished a river called the Old Man River and no picture could do it justice. We camped in our tent, slept in the truck, and occasionally got a motel room to take a bath. What a way to spend the entire summer with a son I loved so much. Who would have known that there would be no more fishing trips for us? We soaked up some of the most beautiful places in the world. Joey had a smile on his face the entire time.
Joey asked me if we could go back into Montana from Canada to fish some more. He was hooked on the place. It was all that he could talk about. Even after his death all his Marine buddies told me that was all he told them about, the fishing trip with dad and how they were going to go there with him. His dream will come true, and they will visit his memory there.
We probably caught over a million fish that summer, drove over 16,000 miles and only Debi knows how much money I spent. The adventure was not yet over. On the return trip home, we stopped in the Wyoming Fish and Game Dept. in Sheridan. We spoke to the game warden, asking where to go fishing around the area. He asked if we liked to hunt and Joey replied, “hell ya”. The man told us that antelope season had just opened and there was plenty of public land open. Joey said, “dad lets go to Wall Mart and buy a rifle and go hunting.” I got all the information we needed and read it. I told him we had been gone for three months and we were about broke. He was heartbroken but understood.
The last stretch of our trip was the long ride home talking about what we had just done and plans for the future. We finally returned home, and mom was there to greet us with a smile. She said, “did you all have a good time”, and Joey was grinning from ear to ear. You could not slap that smile off his face. We did not even unpack the truck. I spoke to Debi about the information on the antelope hunt and she said, “GO”. I was not going to argue with that!! I yelled for Joey to come outside and told him to pack the rifles, we’re going antelope hunting. He replied, “for real “. I never saw him move so fast! With an hour we were back on the road heading for Wyoming.
1400 miles later we pulled into the gate of the ranch we were going to hunt. There were antelope grazing all over the place. What a dream come true for this young man. We went to the ranch house, met Mary Shultzman, the owner and she told us where to hunt. What a beautiful place, rolling plains stretching for miles. We drove to the area and started to glass for the prong horns. In the distance were standing several animals with two good bucks in the group. I told Joey he had the first shot. I looked at the terrain and noticed a gully we could slip into for a better shot. He could not control his excitement and almost ran down the ravine. I was right behind him. Joey got into position as I handed him the shooting sticks to steady the rifle. Without hesitation he fired the shot, and the buck was down. His first antelope trophy!
What a way to spend a summer with my son. It was a dream of a lifetime. I was hoping for many more. By the time we got home it was late October and Joey was off to basic training in the Marine Corps. What memories he had to take with him on another journey.
Debi and I followed him during his military career. We attended every school graduation he completed. He finished first in class and we were so proud of him. The next thing we knew was Joey was selected to join the Marine Air Wing and become a crewmember flying in a CH-53 Super Stallion helicopter. Soon after that his training intensified, and we were not allowed to know about what he was doing. The next phone call from Joey was him saying “I’m going to Afghanistan to fight the War on Terrorism.” Our hearts sunk with the thought of him going off to war.
He made it through the first deployment and came home on leave. It was great to see him and how he had matured. What a young man he had become. Time passed and he called again with a tone in his voice that told us he was going back. His second tour ended in tragedy when his helicopter crashed. All his hopes and dreams died that night. It has been very hard for us dealing with our loss. After several months Debi and I agreed to go on a trip following the same route Joey and I made when we went fishing. We had two reasons for the journey; one was to spread some of his ashes in places that he loved, and to look for a final resting place in Montana where we would build a cabin. We found both.
Joey had saved all his deployment pay checks so we could buy his Montana dream property. We looked all over the state and on the next to the last day a realtor called us and said he had found a piece of heaven. Debi and I went to look at the tract of land. Once we walked out the property, we both looked at each other and said, "this is it."
We could not let his dream die. As I sat in the wood gazing at the mountaintops, I dreamed of what could have been. I realized that this place could be put to great use for returning Marines and Soldiers who loved the outdoors as much as Joey did. I have kept in touch with several of his Marine friends and they all said the same thing. All Joey could talk about is all the hunting and fishing trips we went on and building a cabin in the mountains so they all could come and visit. Debi and I have decided to extend Joey’s invitation to our military family.
The following is a description of the property we purchased. Joey paid for it with his life, and we would like to see his memory live on. The property is 164 acres surrounded by LoLo National Forest. The forest boundary covers 3150 square miles of wilderness and forest access roads. It is in Mineral county, Montana. The town of Superior is located 8 miles away with a population of 900. The town was founded when gold was first discovered in Montana. You can still pan for gold in the mountain streams. We have found gold and blue sapphires in our secret place. The town has a hotel and stores for supplies. The city of Missoula is located 60 miles east on interstate 90. There is a major airport there as well as a county air strip near Superior.
If you love fishing as much as we do the Clark Fork River is located only 3 miles from the property. The Trout fishing is very good and there are several mountain streams and lakes in the area to explore. The Idaho border is close by with three times the national forest to make use of. Hunting is an option for the outdoorsmen with elk, deer, moose, big horn sheep, mountain goat, wolves, and mountain lions available to hunt with the proper license. The outdoor experiences are endless. If you just want to relax in the beautiful mountains, it is all there for the asking. That’s what we plan to do and with the help of others, Joey’s dream will come true. Joey’s memories and the Warrior Spirit will always be there.
Semper Fi to all you Marines!!!
Thank you for allowing us to envision and share Joey’s Dream.
A CH-53D from HMH-363, Jan 2012 in Afghanistan.
Photo by Lance Cpl. Robert Carrasco