CW4,G Co, 52nd Regt; 1st Bn, 214th Aviation Regiment; 12th Combat Aviation Brigade
02/03/2010, Mannheim, Germany
Thanks so much for tracking me down. My son did not die in combat but died when his helicopter fell apart on a IFR landing approach in Germany Feb 3, 2010 teaching a young pilot instrument techniques, as he was ordered. He had served a total of 4 years in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, earning the Distinguished Flying Cross and many Air Medals with Valor along the way and this job was supposed to be a safe non-combat job for 3 years. He was just 7 months into it when the mishap occurred.
Gary Marc Farwell, a decorated combat veteran and Chief Warrant Officer Four in the United States Army, died in a routine training accident on Wednesday, Feb 3. He was 39 years old. He will be laid to rest in Ririe. CW4 Gary Farwell, whose parents and grandparents are all from Burley, Idaho, was flying in southwestern Germany with two other soldiers when his UH-60 Blackhawk Helicopter crashed in a forest south of Frankfurt. There were no survivors.
Chief Farwell’s skill as a pilot was exceeded only by his devotion as a father, husband, son, sibling and friend. This was all a source of pride and a point of admiration for those around him and close to him. A routine resupply mission in Afghanistan about two years ago illustrates his skill and devotion to duty and those around him. Shortly after takeoff, a small team of coalition forces was ambushed and one soldier critically wounded, needing immediate medical attention. Chief Farwell, flying under the call sign Strike Eagle 70, was asked to attempt the evacuation. Lieutenant Daniel Squyres later described the hazards of the mission, “The valley in which the evacuation took place was one of the most extreme that can be conceived. At its top, the valley was no larger than the width of five rotor disks, and at its bottom was no wider than two. The walls of the valley were correspondingly near vertical … its depth approximately 1,000 feet.” Lt. Squyres continued, “Even in these austere conditions the crew of Strike Eagle 70 immediately agreed to the mission. The site did not provide enough space for the pilots to set the aircraft down completely, making a one wheel landing on a huge rock and hover necessary for the extraction. The Blackhawk was within meters of enemy forces and had less than one rotor disk clearance from sheer rock face.” Despite this, Farwell and his crew managed to extract the wounded soldier and return him to a field hospital, before returning a second and third time to evacuate the rest of the soldiers–an option the other aircraft commander on scene had determined too dangerous and difficult to attempt.
Born in Redding, Calif., on March 1, 1970, Marc traveled with his parents and lived and attended schools in California, Japan, Texas and Utah. The family lived in Orem, where he became an Eagle Scout. He graduated from the Waterford School in Provo and served a two year LDS mission in Massachusetts. He returned and earned a Bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Utah in 1995. After moving to Virginia, he enlisted in the Army in 1996, serving fourteen years before his death, first as a rifleman and machine-gunner with the 2nd Ranger Battalion, then as a team leader in the 25th Infantry Division before attending Warrant Officer Candidates School. He went on to the Army’s Aviation School at Fort Rucker, Alabama. CW3 Farwell moved on to assignments with the 82nd Airborne Division and then the 12th Aviation Brigade in Germany. He deployed twice to Afghanistan and twice to Iraq. CW4 Farwell earned numerous medals and honors, among them with the Senior Aviator Badge, the Expert Infantryman’s Badge, the Meritorious Service Medal, numerous Air Medals (two for Valor) and the Parachutist Wings. He also qualified and served as a Senior Instructor Pilot for the UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter. Marc had a deep love of life, a sharp sense of humor and an enthusiasm for the outdoors and history. He was an avid skier, hiker, fly fisherman and historian pursuing his Master’s degree. He was also devoted family man and is survived by three young children, Ashlyn, Ethan and Isabella and his wife, Tawnya. Their home was near Stuttgart, Germany. He is also survived by his parents, Gary and Louise Farwell of Farmington, Arkansas; his brothers and sister, Robert Farwell of Mesa, Arizona, Marrianne Farwell Tullis of Fayetteville, Arkansas, and Sergeant Matthew Farwell of Fort Monroe, Virginia; as well as his father and mother in law, Bruce and Linda Spaulding of Rigby, Idaho. He had one remaining grandparent, Mrs. Lois Farwell of Burley, Idaho. He was preceded in death by three grandparents, Mrs. Mary Lou and Mr. Martin Funk and Mr. Max Farwell.
Of Tawnya, he once wrote “She is a gem. I don’t know how I lucked out with her. It definitely isn’t my looks. I like to think it is the charm.” And charm and love her he did, and love and nurture him she did, along with those lovely devoted children. He will be greatly missed.