BARRINGTON - The heroics of a Barrington soldier who died in battle 20 years ago will not be forgotten. In late August, a United States Marine Corps training center in Johnstown, Pa., was dedicated in honor of Cobra attack helicopter pilot Lt. Jeffrey Scharver, a Barrington native who died during the United States' invasion of Grenada on Oct. 25, 1983.
Lt. Scharver, who was born in Canton, Ohio, but grew up in town, was one of 19 United States Marines and other forces killed when a coalition of several countries — and upwards of 7,000 troops — invaded the Caribbean island to quell a Marxist uprising and rescue American citizens caught on the island. He died just hours into the battle, dubbed "Operation Urgent Fury" by President Ronald Reagan.
Lt. Scharver was on an armed reconnaissance mission just hours into the invasion when a second helicopter was hit and brought down behind enemy lines by anti-aircraft fire. United States Secretary of the Navy John Lehman wrote in a citation that "with full knowledge of their vulnerability ... and with total disregard for their safety, First Lieutenant Scharver and his pilot exposed their aircraft to heavy antiaircraft artillery fire while engaging ground forces."
Their actions, he wrote, helped buy enough time for other pilots to rescue the fallen crew. During their efforts, their helicopter was shot down.
Lt. Scharver, the secretary wrote, showed "extraordinary courage, uncommon valor and steadfast devotion to duty in the face of danger," and was posthumously awarded the Silver Star.
The dedication ceremony attracted more than 100 people, including Lt. Scharver's parents, Vivian and Larry, who moved to Wilmington, N.C., last year after 33 years in Barrington. Mrs. Scharver said her son would have been honored at the tribute.
"He said to me, 'If I ever die in an aircraft, don't say anything about the Marines. I absolutely love the Marines.' "
Twenty years later, Mrs. Scharver said she still thinks about her son every day, though the invasion has been overlooked by many historians because it occurred two days after the bombing of a United States Marine Corps barracks in Beirut, Lebanon. To help keep the memory alive, the Scharvers years ago founded a memorial scholarship in his name, distributed annually through the Barrington Citizens Scholarship Foundation (CSF).
Though the Scharvers left town last year, Lt. Scharver's brother Chris still lives in Barrington.
Return to Grenada
The dedication ceremony wasn't the only remembrance the Scharvers participated in this year.
Mrs. Scharver returned home Sunday after spending three days on Grenada at the invitation of St. George's School, a medical school on the island where many of the 600 Americans were stranded. The highlight of the three-day trip was the re-dedication of a memorial to the fallen soldiers, though it also included a tour of the island. This was not Mrs. Scharver's first visit to the island. She and her husband stopped there eight years ago during a Caribbean cruise. At the time, the cruise ship captain managed to have them introduced to Grenada's prime minister. Submitted by Alan H Barbour, Historian, Historian, USMC Combat Helicopter Association
Ohio State University Dedication:
The Honorable Jerry MacArthur Hultin
Under Secretary of the Navy
At the Re-Dedication of
The 1st Lieutenant Jeffrey R. Scharver Room
Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps
The Ohio State University
November 20, 1998
Ladies and gentlemen, as a former Ohio State University NROTC Midshipman, I am honored and humbled to be here today, as we re-dedicate the First Lieutenant Jeffrey R. Scharver Room. A room re-dedicated to the spirit of a fallen alumnus who, through his absolute courage in combat operations on the Island of Grenada, earned him one of our nation’s highest military awards for valor - the Silver Star. How can the First Lieutenant Scharver Room be more than the memorabilia that adorn its walls? How can it serve as more than the memories of a single individual? My answer: If you invest your life with character, then the First Lieutenant Scharver Room will continue to serve as personal proof of the caliber of citizen/warriors our great university produces! I impress upon you to use this room as a place for reflection, as a place for intellectual pursuit, and as a place for preparing yourselves to help shape our nation’s future. When you do this, you gain the knowledge and character necessary to contribute positively to ensuring our future. But this is not an easy task. General David M. Shoup, the twenty-second Commandant of the Marine Corps, once observed, “Neither money nor machines can serve as a substitute for our fighting men. We cannot buy justice and freedom. We cannot manufacture them. We have got to want them. And wanting them, we have got to be willing to fight for them—without any selfish thoughts of our personal convenience.” First Lieutenant Scharver understood what General Shoup meant – he was willing to serve, to fight and to die for his country. To our fellow “Buckeye”, Semper Fidelis was a way of life. At the start of the 21st century, we are truly at a defining moment in our nation’s history – we have the opportunity to make the new millennium a golden age for America. We are clearly the global power, economically, politically, and militarily. No nation in the history of mankind has ever been in such a position of power and influence. While some say with the end of the cold war clarity has been replaced by complexity you, with courage, can have clarity. The brave actions of First Lieutenant Scharver are a literal and figurative guide for how we must lead our nation into the 21st century. Just as First Lieutenant Scharver, we must act with courage. We must be selfless in character. We must act with neither reticence nor arrogance, but with vision and clarity. For we are the guarantors of freedom, peace and stability – both economic and democratic. Just as this true American hero acted on behalf of those of us here, so too must we act now to shape the world of the future. So ask yourself, have you gained the character to be clear and courageous? If not now, when and where will you build that character? Will you be ready? Clear? Brave? In one brief moment, in an extraordinary and decisive act of courage and bravery, First Lieutenant Scharver made the ultimate sacrifice. He gallantly and unselfishly gave his life for his fellow Marines and forever changed the world of those who knew and loved him. First Lieutenant Scharver’s tremendous act of courage and clarity – and so many others like it – are what set our country apart. Let this room, in the words of General Douglas MacArthur, serve as an enduring reminder of the youth and strength, the love and loyalty that First Lieutenant Scharver displayed in the service to his country and Corps, in giving his life for his fellow Marines. Let all those who set foot within these walls be guided by his memory and the spirit of this young and courageous American hero. And may you, when called upon, in your own way have the courage and clarity to be so brave as our fellow citizen/soldier so early in his life. Submitted by Alan H Barbour, Historian, USMC Combat Helicopter Association
I'm glad to see that Pat Giguere and Steve Scharver are listed here, but, lets not forget Jeb Seagle who was, along with Tim Hill, shot down by hostile ground fire in Grenada. The aircraft was severely damaged and made a hard landing. Tim Hill was badly wounded, and Jeb Seagle was susequently killed by enemy combatants on the ground. 1stLt. Scharver was the squadron adjutant, Pat Giguere was the OIC of Flight Line, and I believe Jeb Seagle was in S-2.
It would be nice to see him honored here, even though he was not killed as a direct result of his aircraft crashing. Tim Hill survived his wounds but and as a result had a partial amputation of one of his arms. Each of these pilots were fine pilots, and exceptional gentlemen. At the time, I was a Sergeant and a crewchief on Hueys. It's a shame they were taken so soon.