Observation at Scott Sather's Funeral April 26, 2003 1500 hrs


Ceiling, eight thousand feet - thin overcast. The last cherry blossom petal of the year fell from a tree near the Tidal Basin and spring was a pale green color of new leaves. Scott Sather's flag draped casket seemed to float as Army NCOs Shillman and Trouncet guided it down the isle of the Fort Myer chapel on the edge of the highest hill at Arlington National Cemetery. There it rested, closed, with Scott's jump boots toward the alter and his red beret covered head inches away form his wife Melanie on his right and AFSOC Commander General Hester on his left. The American Flag gave the casket form as it was hidden below the red and white stripes with a blue field of white stars.

Temperature 74 degrees Fahrenheit. The doors to the chapel remained wide open. More than 350 friends, family and team mates filled the pews, lined the walls, and finally remained at the door when capacity limits of the chapel were exceeded. Many of Scott's CCT brothers had arrived directly from Iraq at 2 am that morning and somehow managed to be in dress blues for this solemn occasion. While waiting for the service to begin, there were hushed conversations of combat. A CCT "close call" or deed of heroism was whispered and attributed to the various red berets standing quietly against the walls. There was a contingent of Army Rangers in tan berets, some with fresh scars, who had been near Scott for his final act. Capt. Blake Crow, of the 24th Special Tactics Squadron, spoke first and gave an account of Scott Sather from a warriors point of view. Competitive, trustworthy, fiercely patriotic, always ready, were the attributes that came through loud and clear from a team mate who obviously knew Scott very well and relied on him often. Next to speak was the current JSOC Chaplin who also knew Scott well because of their travels together in Afghanistan and Iraq. The two Army NCO's ceremoniously moved Scotts casket out the open doors to a waiting hearse followed by Melanie, Scott's father Rod Sather and Scott's two brothers and their families and all the others that had gathered to say good-bye.


Wind 180 at three. Everyone followed the hearse south of the chapel past rows and columns and more rows and columns of military people now laid to rest at Arlington. Less than a mile from the chapel near the peak of the highest hill at Arlington, the hearse and the procession stopped. Scott's casket was removed by the Air Force paul bearers and moved to the waiting gravesite. All gathered around the grieving immediate family members as the honor guard stood at rigid attention stretching the American Flag above Scott's last resting place. An occasional raindrop fell. 200 meters south stood a lone bugler at the ready. 200 meters West, the rifle platoon and 20 Air Force members at rigid attention in dress blues. 200 meters east was the rest of the honor guard and flag bearers and beyond them were members of the press corps tightly bundled behind yellow tape. All around the crowd, the obvious color was red from CCT berets and blue from Air Force uniforms


38 degrees 52 minutes 28 seconds north, 77 degrees 4 minutes 19 seconds west. Scott's closest neighbor has a permanent address of 60-7077. Scott's gravesite is slightly north but does not yet have a permanent marker. Three American flags were first outstretched and folded and presented to family members as the lone bugler played taps and a twenty-one gun salute in three volleys resounded through the Arlington hills. Those attending the graveside service stood uneasily at the head stones of other gravesites as the immediate family said their last good-bye and placed flowers and mementoes on the metallic and silver coffin where Scott lay. As some began to move away, all Scott's CCT comrades and members from other services formed a line two abreast to bid Scott farewell. In formation of two, they filed to Scott's coffin. Each removed the flash from their beret, or brought a coin or other item from their pockets and placed it on the lid. No less than twenty such items will now have been lowered with Scott to a final resting place.


Visibility unobstructed. The gravesite service was immediately followed by a reception at the Sheraton hotel on Columbia Pike very near Arlington Cemetery. Most family and out-of-town friends stayed there as well. The reception occurred in a large room which gave those in attendance the freedom to engage others in the room at a pace of there own choosing. It wasn't long before strangers were becoming friends and sharing their thoughts and memories of Scott. Some described their loss while others caught up on time past. One moving around the room could learn many things. Scott's father, Rod Sather, deeply mourned the loss of one of his three sons. He remains proud of Scott's accomplishments and is a steadfast American patriot. On his right lapel was an American Flag and on the left a small gold CCT flash. He wants to remain a member of our CCT family. Scott's brothers are big healthy people who share Rod's pride. The younger brother mentioned more than once how pleased he and the entire family were at the way they had all been treated and looked after by the Air Force. While they morn deeply, they are no less proud or their son and fallen brother.

All present or accounted for ….. Retired CCT member Ed Holster is an instructor for Robin Sage at Fort Bragg. Major John Koren had been Scott's Commander while in England. Mike Naylor, currently learning to write and direct movies in California, was a close friend of Scott's and had gone into harms way with him in Bosnia. Col (ret) Craig Brotchie is in DC and working to bring credit to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. The Foundation currently has 13 children of deceased CCTs on its roles and promises that they will receive a college education. Col. (ret) Bob Stephan has taken a position as a special assistant with Governor Ridge at the Dept. of Homeland Security and will have Ody Dickey working closely with him after Ody moves down from Pennsylvania. Mike Breedan has invaded the Pentagon and is learning his way around DC. There is an informal group in the DC area that meets the first Tuesday of each month. It's made up of CCT and PJs. They call themselves the Bubba Brigade with the purpose of looking after the graves of our fallen comrades who are buried at Arlington. Col. Rith was one of those returning on the 2 am flight from Iraq and in his words, "STS was involved in everything" …. "They asked us to do everything and we did everything…. well". He gives General Hester two thumbs up says "Good Man" and he pointed out SSgt Eddy Priest as one who was called upon more than once to give his all, and did so with great credit to CCT. Another thing became obvious moving around the room. Members of the 24th are not able to keep up with the number of combat-jump bronze stars on their jump wings. A senior jumper had two bronze jump stars, another troop had one bronze star only because he was not able to find wings with four bronze jump stars. There were many other combinations of combat jump wings scattered around the room. Again, according to Col Rith, "we've got STS all over the world, in dangerous situations and their doing a great job".

Washington Post

By David A. Fahrenthold
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, April 26, 2003; Page A15

Fallen Air Force Sergeant Always Driven to Excel

The first specks of scarlet at the graveside of Staff Sgt. Scott D. Sather were isolated, nearly lost in the mass of civilians in dark mourning clothes. Then, after everyone else had settled in, the slim men in blue uniforms and dark red berets approached by the dozens, forming a ring of color around the outside of the crowd.

Sather, an Air Force combat air controller, was killed in Iraq on April 8. Yesterday he was buried at Arlington National Cemetery surrounded by service members wearing berets, the symbols of their elite status. In addition to the scarlet worn by his fellow airmen, there were tan berets on Army Rangers and at least one Army Green Beret in the crowd.

Sather, 29, a native of Clio, Mich., joined the Air Force in 1992. He soon began training to be a combat air controller, one of a unit of about 300 who work on the ground near or ahead of front-line combat troops and guide attack planes to nearby targets.

These airmen, whose slogan is "First There," are trained in parachuting, scuba diving and combat survival as well as air traffic control. Retired Staff Sgt. Mike Naylor, who served with Sather in Bosnia, said Sather was drawn to the extreme aspects of the job.

"He wanted to skydive. He wanted to scuba dive. He wanted to be a cowboy," Naylor said after the funeral. "I mean, he wanted to be right up front."

Naylor said Sather, an outstanding athlete in high school, was a fierce competitor. While assigned to Bosnia, Naylor said, their unit was kept on alert and could not stray more than a few minutes from its planes. To pass the time, Naylor said, they would engage in highly competitive games of Ultimate Frisbee.

Sather "was fanatical about it. He didn't want to lose," Naylor said. "Everything that he did was that intense."

There were also lighthearted moments during those long periods of alert: Naylor said that Sather played practical jokes on another airman named Eggers, hiding eggs in his boots, then slipping away.

"Eggers never found out who was doing it," Naylor said.

Sather's service yesterday was the last of a week in which seven casualties of the Iraq war were buried at Arlington. Fifteen have been laid to rest there since April 10. Sather's coffin was positioned in a row of fresh graves at the edge of a field that does not yet have headstones.

Sather was stationed at Pope Air Force Base in North Carolina and married last year, according to published reports. His widow, Melanie, sat with his parents, Karin Craft and Rod Sather, at the grave site.

The service began with a flyover by A-10 attack jets. After remarks by a chaplain, flags were presented to his wife and parents.

At the conclusion, other Combat Controllers -- in distinctive headgear and uniforms, their dress pants stuffed into combat boots -- walked forward, set a coin commemorating their unit on the coffin and saluted.

Maj. John Koren, a retired Air Force officer who once was Sather's commander, said afterward that the handsome, capable airman stood out even among his elite colleagues.

"When they asked me to put people on tough missions, he was first on my list," Koren said, adding that he could think of no higher praise for a soldier.

"He represented America," Koren said. "He represented you and I. You can't ask for anything better than that."