SPC Jeremy B. Bird ‘s Biography
19 year old Ranger Specialist Jeremy Bird was one of the 12 SPECOPS Warriors that did not survive an aviation crash during training.
May we remind each other that these men who died doing what they loved best will not fade away. We will remember and we will pray for them forever.
Jeremy R. Bird was only in the service a short time. Here is his story from his youth to the end of his short life.
Jeremy was born on June 27, 1973 to Byron and Renee Bird in St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin. He was a beautiful brown eyed baby boy.
As he began to grow, we could see he was going to be daring and fearless. When he was five years old he would jump into the pig pen with 600 lb. sows and boars. If they looked like they were going to bother him, he would punch them in the nose. He got mad when we made him get out of there.
He defended his nine year old cousin once on the playground when a fourteen year old was bullying him. He threw a baseball and hit the bully in the eye and the kid got off his cousin and started to chase him. I had to step in to keep this big bully from hurting this little boy.
Jeremy at a young age rode horses, played hockey and wrestled.
His greatest love was hunting. He was a great shot taking many ducks and pheasants and winning hunting trophies. At the age of 12 he shot is first 6 point buck. At the age of 14 he shot a 550 lb. Boone and Crocket black bear. When he was 15 he shot 3 bucks in one day, one had a 21inch inside spread and 8 points. He won the big buck contest at school that year. He was more than a son, he was my hunting buddy. At the age of 16 we went to Idaho and he shot two big bull elk.
Jeremy was also a wrestler and Jim the Dog Utter was his free style coach. This was about the time when Hulk Hogan started his career and all the news media was calling pro wrestling fake. Jim and I would take this twelve year old and we would have him put the sleeper hold on big physical adults and no one could break the hold. After a while we had to have him stop because he was hurting people and it wasn’t funny anymore.
He also was taking karate lessons and would get into playing a ninja with his friends. He called it bavoute, He would have his friends tie him to a tree at night and he would have to free himself and go find them, then the play karate fight would be on. I had to have him stop the karate lesson because he started to use these tactics on me. I never knew where he was lurking in the house. He would jump out of nowhere and bring a knee into my midsection and chop me on the back of my neck. I thought I was in a pink panther movie.
Jeremy made many friends and the high school girls were all after him because he was such a gentleman.
He was on the honor roll all four years in high school, voted most valuable player on the football team for the most yardages on the ground and honorable mention as a linebacker. Jeremy could tackle and stop the biggest and fastest in their tracks. His greatest achievement was most valuable wrestler and all conference. He was a tremendous take down artist.
Jeremy was also into G I Joe and always dreamed of being in the military. He first wanted to be a Navy Seal. His friends were concerned about that and told him he could get killed doing this. His reply was that he wasn’t afraid to die. His wrestling coach had a son in the Rangers and he said to him why not go into the Rangers. They had more options like Special Forces, airborne, delta force, etc.
In the spring of 1991 at the age of seventeen and just three days after graduation from high school, he joined the Army. He left his brand new Chevy Blazer, a beautiful blonde girl friend and all the money his mother could give him to be a soldier in one of the greatest and toughest outfits in the world. To be one of the best of the best an Airborne Ranger was his goal.
When he entered, the Army Desert Storm was on and he couldn’t wait to see combat. He was stuck in the reception station for eight days and that was troubling to him. He called one day and was very unhappy, but I reassured him that it wouldn’t be long and he would be in his own unit. Jeremy graduated from Basic and AIT and joined 1st Ranger Battalion and they sent him to airborne school. He called me one day and said he was going to a communication school. I said you’re going to be nothing more than an RTO.
He argued with me and said this is different than when I was in. After he completed the training he called me up excited of his performance and I asked him what his title was. He laughed and said he was nothing more than an RTO. Jeremy went through a series of training, Rip and Pre Ranger School. One day his Platoon Sgt. called him into his office and said he was sending him to Ranger school. He also said that he was the youngest and least qualified but he would be the only one that could pass the test. He said if he failed don’t come back to his unit.
Ranger school was tough and he got hypo- thermea in the mountain faze. He made it to the top and the next day he graduated. Jeremy was on cloud nine that he had made it. Jeremy said in a motivational letter to himself he would get the tab if it kills him. He was now one of the best of the best. He had only had his tab for a short while, but had made an impression on his leaders He could move and stay up in the front and be able to set his radio up with perfection. He had one of the toughest jobs in the military. Not only did he have to carry his radio but his weapon and his pack. Roughly – over ninety pounds.
He set the standard that if someone asked to help carry the radio the answer is no that is his job. Jeremy called me one day and asked me to buy that Ranch where he had got his two elk. He normally would call to talk to his mother, but this time he said he just wanted to talk to me. I reassured him that I would and everything would be all right and he would be home soon.
One day after work a military car pulled into the driveway and Jeremy’s priest, an Army Sgt., and the chief of police stepped out and approached my wife. She than came to me with tears in her eyes and told me that Jeremy was killed on October 29th 1992 in a helicopter crash over the Great Salt Lake. It was a joint mission with the Air Force Commandoes and twelve men were killed, four from his unit. The 1st Ranger battalion flew our family for a special memorial.
When we got home it was a few days before Jeremy finally made it home. It was a relief, I just wanted my son back. Twenty one 1st Ranger Battalion Rangers came to help us bury him. They said that the Rangers take care of their own. They were taking it as hard as we did, they looked sharp and we had a special viewing at the wake with just our immediate family and the Rangers. We played the tape, Blaze of Glory by Bon Jovi, it was a song Jeremy played often and definitely touch the emotions of the Rangers. Over the following Christmas I went down to Georgia to find out what kind of Ranger he was.
I heard a lot of stories and got a lot of pictures. He was a prankster and a character. The best description came from the Command Sgt. Maj. Sebay. He said my son was different from a lot of young Rangers coming into the unit. He said “Jeremy walked different, he walked with purpose”. This was the best statement that describes Jeremy. He meant enough to the Rangers that they named the communication building after him and Sgt. Blain Mishak who was with him that terrible night.
At the Ranger Regimental headquarters, they named the physical training court in his name. I’m sending you a copy of his motivational letter he wrote to himself in Ranger school and a poem I wrote about his life and how it ended, and how his father moves on with his spirit at his side. I loved that boy who turned into a man way to fast and made the ultimate sacrifice. Inclosing I hurt and feel the pain when I hear of others that have lost loved ones in the service of their country and knowing what their families are going through.
The Rangers will always be in my heart. – Jeremy’s dad, Byron Robert Bird Jr.
Salt Lake 2012 Ranger Memorial October 29th 1992 the Great Salt Lake
This is where my life with Jeremy ended and where my life without him started. I was asked by Cornelia if I would like to speak in behalf of Jeremy. I said I would. What a Beautiful place in the mountains, The Great Salt Lake and the wide open sky. How this place of Beauty could hold so much tragedy. I don’t want to dwell on the way these heroes died but talk about one specific Warrior, my son 19 year old Specialist Jeremy B Bird. I would like to share some stories about how he lived in the Eyes of the Rangers he served with.
October 30th 1992 it was in the afternoon when a military car pulled in my driveway. An Army Officer, Chief of Police and a Priest got out and started to talk to my wife. It was about three o’clock and I just got done with a construction project. She came over to me with tears in her eyes and said Jeremy is gone. There is no tougher challenge that a parent can go through then a loss of their child. Our family was flown to Ist Ranger Battalion at Hunter Airfield Savanna Georgia for a special memorial the next day. When we got there we were put up in a guest room set aside by the Rangers for Special days like this.
We heard a knock on the door and I said come in. In walked four Rangers. You could see that they were having trouble getting a conversation started. I have never been accused of being lost for words, so I started the conversation. I recognized Captain Chai because he was in a picture with Jeremy when they climbed a mountain in Scotland. I said to him my son was a great football player, wrestler and hunter. He packed elk out of the mountains of Idaho. I want to know how he measured up as a Ranger. Captain Chai said Mr. Bird your son did just fine “he was like a packhorse; the more you put on his back the harder he would go”. We all started to laugh and then I knew they knew my son.
Twenty-one IST battalion Rangers came up from Savanna to help bury my son. I got to know them and they all had something in common; they had a story to tell about him. SSgts Mark Jones the head of the Ranger Mess Section said to me in my son’s bedroom after the funeral. Jeremy didn’t die in vain he meant something to all of us, he meant something to him. I asked if he ever had him as a RTO. Once when they were having mess in the field he ordered Jeremy to call in the Helicopters, nickname “the birds”. He orders Bird call in the Birds. Jeremy was off to the side wrestling two guys.
He never liked one on one competition but multiple opponents. SSgt Jones gave the order again and when Jeremy went for his radio one of the guy’s tackled Him. Jeremy was getting the best of them and SSgt Jones sent in the rest of his crew one at a time. This setup was made to order, Jeremy was schooled in Judo, karate, and free style wrestling. SSgt Jone’s said it was incredible to watch someone take on 7 guys and still be standing. He said it was so intense that he himself forgot about calling in the birds.
I was invited to come down by the rangers to spend the following Christmas at 1st Battalion. I needed to see for myself how he performed in the eyes of the Rangers. I received so many pictures from his Ranger buddy’s and the stories were awesome to listen to. One of the stories was in the Communication’s shop; some of the guys were talking trash and wanted to fight Jeremy. He said the only way he would fight is that there would have to be two of them.
To back up a little, when Jeremy was 12 years old he taught himself to put on the Pro Wrestler Vern Gagnia Sleeper hold. It is now known by pride fighters “the rear naked choke”. A wrestling buddy of mine would take Jeremy to party’s and at the time everyone thought pro wrestling was fake. My buddy had him put it on at least a dozen or more men. They either taped out or we had to break it up before he hurt someone. No one ever got out of this hold on their own. One day Jeremy went outside the Commo Shop with two guys that wanted to fight him. The first one out the door reached down and picked up a hand full of sand and threw it in Jeremy’s eyes. The scuffle ensued and he got the sleeper on one of the fellows. The guy started to scream you’re breaking my neck. After a few more seconds Jeremy pushed him away telling him “I won’t break your neck a least not today” and then laughs. Jeremy had inside toughness and hardly ever got mad. I had a chance to visit with Command SSgt Major Sebai. He said when Jeremy and his roommate Nacahara the big Samoan would wrestle outside of their barracks in the courtyard. Nobody would ever mess with those guys. He went on to say that Jeremy walked different than most young Rangers. “He walked with purpose”.
We went down to a dedication to Fort Benning where the Rangers Dedicated a physical training field in his honor. Specialist Jeremy B. Bird Memorial Court. Colonel David Grange was the 75th Ranger Regimental Commander. After the dedication I attempted to brag Jeremy up to the colonel. I said to him that Jeremy was on the honor roll all four years in high school, most valuable player on the football team, and most valuable wrestler on the wrestling team. He paused and said “You know we have a lot of men in here like that”. I then understood why they say these “Special Ops Rangers are the best of the best” These dedicated men all come together and meet at the top.
Another Colonel sent me a letter stating the saying “that the good die young”. This doesn’t hold true to the Rangers. They take the most difficult and dangerous jobs that no one else would take and that puts them in harm’s way. This is why their life is always at risk.
A few years back we were invited for another memorial at 1st Battalion. It was the dedication of the Commo shop Jeremy worked out of. Sargent Blaine Mishak and Specialist Jeremy Bird Communication Building. I asked the 1st Battalion Commander how a Sergeant and a Specialist could get a building named after them. He said they were the best we ever had. All new Rangers that come into the Battalion would see them as Role Model RTO to follow. They will be honored and their names will always be remembered.
In closing, I would like to introduce Oliver Aune the Wisconsin Coordinator for the Honor and Remember flag. Sue my wife and Oliver please unfold and hold the flag. I would like to talk a little bit about the Honor and Remember flag. It has be endorsed and adopted as a new state symbol by Utah and many other states. Someday it will be a national symbol in honor of those who have died in combat, training, or on leave as long as they were in the service of their country either Overseas or State side.
This does not take away from the POW MIA or the United State Flag but gives recognition to those who were killed in the service of their country. I received a personalized flag last summer by the Apple Valley Minnesota American Legion and VFW. I will have some pamphlets at the luncheon after the service. Anyone interested can talk to me or Oliver about getting more information or if they want to get involved. In closing, “Jeremy you’re my Hero, your Relatives miss you, your Friends miss you, the Rangers miss you, I miss you.” Thank You to the Memorial Coordinators for this moment to share stories and my feelings about my son.
HIGH IN THE MOUNTAINS
It was in a helicopter crash over the Great Salt Lake, it went down in a fiery flame
He had volunteered for this mission, letting no one else take it, for he wouldn’t be ashamed
Sergeants, officers, enlisted men, the best of the best were together on that fateful day
All the rest of is Ranger buddies were on shore, but all they could do was pray
I only wanted my son back, and after several days he came home with Gods will
I asked Jeremy’s wrestling coach where he should rest; he said “bury him on a hill”
Twenty-two Ist Battalion Rangers came from Hunters Base, to tell us Jeremy’s story
With a special viewing for his Ranger buddies, we then played the song Blaze of Glory
There was such beauty at the cemetery, a blanket of white snow, the Rangers were standing so proud
With prayers and farewells, a twenty-one gun salute, then taps that touched the hearts in the crowd
His mother laid a yellow Rose on the casket, as an eerie gust of wind came on down
As the Rose blew off, a Ranger out of no where caught it before it touched the ground
I believe that gust of wind was taking his soul back to heaven, where he came from
Jeremy was only here for a short while; God’s gift to me, my beloved son
Two weeks after he had gone, I had a vision, it was Jeremy and he said to me;
“Get on with your life, I am at peace, you’ve grieved enough, just let it be”
While in training he had told me to buy a place in Idaho, following his dream I would start a new life
It has been very hard for this old Cowboy, for his mother is no longer my wife
Climbing mountains, snowmobile, riding horse, hunting lions, and sometimes living on the edge
The danger and excitement that he would have liked, almost got me killed, falling off a rugged ledge
When I’m out doing the things he wanted me to do, his spirit is always at my side
As I travel throughout the country, there isn’t much this Cowboy hasn’t tried
For Jeremy is the wind blowing in the pines or a rooster pheasant flying through the air
The bugle of a bull elk, or the baying of the hounds on the trail of a black bear
This hunter and Ranger was of me, the son I loved so much and will always treasure
He was and still is, someone we will always miss, more than anyone could measure
They say he stood tall, was a good friend, a man that walked with purpose
The wrestler, the son, the friend, the hero, his spirit lives on in everyone of us
As the days go by and time passes, his spirit keeps me moving on
I will think of him often and the memory of where he is in the great beyond
Someday this old cowboy will ride that horse alone, to that mountaintop up high
It will be a lonely ride, but it will be worth it, to see my son, that Ranger in the Sky!
State of Utah Memorial Database Description of the
Antelope Island Ranger and Air Force Memorial
SIDE I: THE LORD’S PRAYER (inscribed in granite) 3 Brass plaques above: GREAT SALT LAKE, UTAH In 1967, the State of Utah purchased the northern 2,000 acres of Antelope Island. The remaining 26,000 acres was purchased in 1981. A causeway was completed in 1969 and Antelope Island State Park opened to the public. In 1983, the rising Great Salt Lake inundated the causeway closing the park. With State appropriations, Davis county rebuilt the causeway in 1992 and Antelope Island State Park reopened in 1993. Crash Site Readings United States Air Force exact crash site readings are: latitude 41 04.48 (minutes) longitude 112 13.90 (minutes)
From where you are standing at the inscription stone, by facing and sighting across the flag pole, the crash site is approximately 9/10 of a mile. The Causeway to Antelope Island
The MH 60G Pave Hawk is the newest helicopter in the USAF. They were flying in the lead and trail positions. (Call Sign) Merit 81 and 84. Merit 82 and 83 were highly modified MH70L Black Hawks assigned to the U.S. Army. Designed for special operations missions including combat rescue, it is equipped for transport of personnel and litter patients. The USAF uses the Pave Hawk to conduct peacetime, contingency and wartime special operations missions to infiltrate, resupply and withdraw American and Allied Special Operations Forces. It is also equipped for transport of personnel and litter patients.
Weather conditions for the evening of 29 Oct. 1992
The mishap aircrew received a weather update brief from a team at Hill Air Force Base. The surface weather conditions briefed to the mishap crew were overcast skies at 3400 feet, 7 miles visibility in rain, winds from the east (090 degrees) at 03 knots. Weather radar indicated thunderstorms and rain showers 95 miles west. Weather radar indicated thunderstorms and rain showers 95 miles west. Weather radar indicated cells moving from the southwest at 10 knots and Max Tops 20,000 feet. West northwest at 29 miles.
There had been no weather alerts/warnings issued. Although the weather forecast predicted VFR conditions, witnesses experienced intermittent rain and scud, coupled with zero moon illumination and low ambient light levels over and to the west of the Great Salt Lake which resulted in no visible horizon and unfavorable night vision goggle flying conditions.
THIS MEMORIAL IS IN REMEMBRANCE OF THE SOLDIERS OF THE US ARMY AND US AIR FORCE SPECIAL OPERATIONS COMMAND WHO DIED IN THE SERVICE OF THIS GREAT NATION ON 10-29-92 APPROX. 9:15 PM MST.
May we remind each other that these men who died doing what they loved best will not fade away.
We will remember and we will pray for them forever.
US ARMY RANGERS
Sgt. Blain A. Mishak ……. Clearlake, La.
Ltc. Kenneth W. Staus…….Belton, MD
St. Harvey E. Moore, Jr……La Grange, CA
Spc. Jeremy B. Bird………Amery, WI
Col. John T. Keneally………Belton, MD
RANGERS LEAD THE WAY These were men who heard the call of freedom, liberty and justice. Men who heard a call to discipline and valor. These were men of the ranger creed.