MULTNOMAH, OR, USA
PO1, SEAL TEAM TEN, VIRGINIA BEACH, VA
ASADABAD, AFGHANISTAN 06/28/2005
Jeffrey Lucas was destined to be in the military.
Since he was a child, the country boy from Corbett wanted to be a Navy SEAL. The specialized, elite combat force was — in the words of a report Lucas wrote in the third grade — “the best.”
When he was young, Lucas used to sneak up on people dressed in camouflage that he made from brush. He used to practice target shooting at long distances. And he built traps to capture rodents in the yard.
“He could surprise anyone,” says Jamie Lucas, 32, Jeffrey’s younger brother. “He was always so fast, so smart and so sure of himself. There was no way he wasn’t going to reach his dream.”
Today, Jamie Lucas and his family are in mourning. Jeffrey Alan Lucas, 33, died earlier this week in eastern Afghanistan after the MH-47 Chinook helicopter he was aboard was shot down, apparently by a rocket-propelled grenade. He leaves behind a wife and 4-year-old son.
Jeffrey Lucas was a 1989 graduate of Corbett High School. His destiny was set long before he enlisted at age 17. His skills, family members say, made him a natural for the military. Jamie Lucas was in awe of his brother’s abilities as a tactician and a sharpshooter. The younger Lucas remembers waking up from the couch one night after hearing a noise in the basement of the family’s Corbett home. He walked downstairs to find Jeffrey Lucas with a BB gun. He was picking off mice as they walked across a beam on the other side of the basement.
“I guess I shouldn’t say this in front of my family, but we’d mostly shoot at each other with BB guns,” Jamie Lucas recalls. “We’d throw rocks, break windows, stuff like that. We were just kids living in the country, and we had a lot of fun.”
Other than riding dirt motorbikes, snowmobiling and fishing, Jeffrey Lucas liked to practice for his future in the military. Jamie Lucas says his brother would hop on a motorbike and ride the back trails to a nearby Bible camp. He’d sneak into the camp, crawl across a creek on his belly and climb underneath some of the structures where the participants gathered.
Once he knew where everyone was, Jeffrey Lucas sneaked into the cabins and took candy from the campers, his brother says. “I went with him once, but I got caught by a dog,” Jamie Lucas recalls. “He was mad because I blew his cover. He wouldn’t let me go anymore. He honed his skills at that Bible camp.”
On Tuesday, Jamie Lucas was on his way to the veterinarian, taking a horse with an eye problem in for an exam. His brother’s wife had called from her home in Virginia Beach, Vairginia. When he returned home, he learned that the copter carrying his brother had gone down.
“No way, no way, no way,” he remembers thinking. “I told her that can’t be. He’d been in lots of close calls before, but Jeff would always say that those were just hard landings.”
Now Jamie Lucas fights back tears. His older brother, his guide, his friend is gone.
“I want to think that he was too smart, too fast to be dead,” he says, crying. “There’s no way it’d be him out there. He’s always the best at everything, so he could survive.
“But it’s sunk in now. They might as well just take half of me away. I lost my brother and my best friend. With him, it was always easy because he’d set the bar, and you’d know where to set the bar to measure greatness.