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Artillery Soldiers ‘made a difference’

Family, friends remember pair killed in Afghanistan

Published: 12:19PM September 13th, 2012

Family, friends and fellow Soldiers gathered at the Joint Base Lewis-McChord Lewis North Chapel Aug. 27 to remember two Joint Base Lewis-McChord service members killed in action in Afghanistan.

First Lieutenant Sean R. Jacobs and Staff Sgt. John E. Hansen, members of the 2nd Battalion, 17th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, died July 26 in an improvised explosive device attack.

Rear detachment commander Capt. Gene Uhler described both Soldiers as “the connective tissue that held their respective organizations together.”

“They made a difference while they were here with us and we are thankful to have known them,” Uhler said.

First Lieutenant Chase Giacomo, a member of Jacobs’ cadet company at West Point and fellow platoon leader in 2-17 FA, called his close friend “a guardian of freedom” and said he led in the best way — from the front and by example.

“As a platoon leader, you could choose to stay in your vehicle while your Soldiers get out and risk their lives,” Giacomo said. “Sean was not this type of leader. He died leading his Soldiers and will forever go down in history as a hero.”

As students, Soldiers and friends, Giacomo said he and Jacobs, 23, always lived near one another. At the Basic Officer Leadership Course, their apartment balconies were within throwing distance and at JBLM, it was just a short drive between their residences.

“It’s hard for me to say, but we are now at a new distance that I cannot yet fully grasp,” Giacomo said.

Hansen enlisted in the Army in 2006, and his Soldiers described him as a unique leader who never raised his voice and was always smiling. Hansen’s positive attitude radiated throughout the unit, and he was remembered as a leader who took exceptional care of his Soldiers and their Families. At 41, he was often teased about his age by the younger Soldiers in his unit.

“He was 10 to 15 years older than all of the Soldiers in the platoon. I would often joke around with him and call him grandpa or old man,” Staff Sgt. Dru Arndt, 4th Platoon, A Battery, said. “Although Hansen was the eldest in the platoon, he was still a kid in nature.”

A memorial service for Jacobs and Hansen was held at a combat outpost in Afghanistan Aug. 2. Uhler said it helped the platoon to continue on with its mission and begin to heal.

“Both of these men ... embodied the Lancer vision — they were protectors and men of honor,” Uhler said.

In Memoriam

First Lieutenant Sean Jacobs

First Lieutenant Sean Jacobs was born on Sept. 15, 1988 in Lake Havasu City, Ariz.

He moved with his family to Redding, Calif., in 2001 and attended Foothill High School, his father said in an interview with the Redding Record Searchlight.

In 2006, Jacobs was nominated by Calif. Rep. Wally Herger to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He graduated in May 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in geospatial information science.

Jacobs’ grandfather, Peter Jacobs, of Redding, was a naval officer during World War II and administered the oath of office to his grandson during his West Point graduation.

“He was a winner all the way, and he had a great future,” Peter Jacobs told the Record Searchlight.

This was Jacobs’ first deployment.

His awards include the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart, and the Afghanistan Campaign Medal. Jacobs is the only child of and survived by his parents, Robert and Jacquelyn Jacobs.

Staff Sgt. John E. Hansen

Staff Sergeant John Hansen was born on May 19, 1971 in Austin, Texas.

Hansen graduated from high school in 1989 and enlisted in the Army in 2006, conducting basic training at Fort Sill, Okla. He completed the Warrior Leader Course in 2007, the Combat Life Savers Course in 2008 and had prior service in the Air Force.

This was Hansen’s second deployment.

His awards include the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart, the Army Commendation Medal, two Army Achievement Medals, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal and the Saudi Arabian Medal Ribbon for the Liberation of Kuwait.

Hansen is survived by his wife, Amber, and two children, Nadia and Jack.