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ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. — The Veterans Day ceremony at St. Bonaventure University was particularly somber this year as among the soldiers honored was one whose name was just added to the University’s veterans memorial.
Spc. Blake D. Whipple attended St. Bonaventure before joining the U.S. Army in 2009. A combat engineer with the 7th Battalion, 10th Sustainment Brigade from the 10th Mountain Division based in Fort Drum, N.Y., he was killed Nov. 5, 2010, while on patrol in Ghazi Province, Afghanistan, when his vehicle struck an improvised explosive device. He was 21 years old.
Whipple becomes the first St. Bonaventure casualty of the war in Afghanistan, and the first soldier to have his name engraved on the campus memorial since the Vietnam War.
Whipple, a Williamsville East High School graduate, was remembered as a young man who loved playing baseball, football, hockey and video games. He liked listening to music and especially enjoyed having his own show on St. Bonaventure’s campus radio station WSBU.
He is one of 49 alumni whose names are engraved on the memorial, which includes casualties from World Ward II, Korea and Vietnam. Each was remembered with a toll of the bells of the fallen as his name was read aloud. Cadets from the Seneca Battalion, St. Bonaventure’s ROTC unit, followed the reading with a 21-gun salute.
Sr. Margaret Carney, O.S.F., University president, and Lt. Col. Michael Bianchi, commander of the Seneca Battalion, placed a wreath at the base of the memorial in tribute to the deceased.