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Ranger’s sacrifice helped save lives

Family, friends remember ‘selfless, inspiring’ warrior

Northwest Guardian

Published: 01:07PM December 20th, 2012
Ranger’s sacrifice helped save lives

Courtesy photo

MacPherson

Sergeant Thomas R. MacPherson made a rational decision in the most irrational of situations, sacrificing his life to save his brothers in 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment.

During a nighttime firefight in Ghazni Province, Afghanistan on Oct. 12, MacPherson was leading an assault against an enemy position when he was shot in the chest. To keep his comrades from coming to him and getting caught in the crossfire, he radioed that he had been hit in the leg — still a serious injury, but one that by combat standards wouldn’t have required immediate attention.

That is the story his wife of three years, Claudia MacPherson, told mourners through tear-filled eyes at a memorial service for her husband at 2-75 Rngr. headquarters on Joint Base Lewis McChord last week. The couple has a 19-month-old, Brayden.

Describing the immense love and support she has felt from MacPherson’s unit and other military spouses, she spoke directly to her husband.

“I know that if you were here today, just like me, you would find it hard to put into words how to let everyone of them know how much they mean to us,” she said. “It may appear that our Family of three is now a Family of two, but sweet Tommy, our Family has never been bigger than it is today. In no way have you left us alone.”

Known fondly as “Sergeant Mac,” MacPherson, 26, was on his fifth combat deployment — his fourth to Afghanistan. According to Sgt. 1st Class Steven Galvez, MacPherson was at the front of the unit patrol on the night of the firefight that left him mortally wounded.

“To be up front, that’s something big,” Galvez said. “That’s saying something when we know you’re going to take us there and back.”

Sergeant Jonah Herd served with MacPherson for five years but within the last 18 months, developed a close friendship with him. Herd received the initial call from MacPherson that he had been injured and described MacPherson as calm and relaxed.

“If he had told me he had been hit in the chest, I would have moved (to him),” Herd said.

MacPherson’s name was added to a monument at 2-75 Rngr. headquarters that was unveiled in a dedication ceremony in November and memorializes Rangers who have died in combat or training. The monument includes a large granite obelisk set in the center of the battalion’s formation area.

“With the addition of Sgt. MacPherson’s name to our memorial obelisk, he once again stands with us in our formation,” Lt. Col. Gregory Anderson, 2-75 Rngr. commander said, describing MacPherson as selfless, inspiring and the epitome of a warrior.

“You were a brother to all of us and you always did what was asked of you,” Anderson said. “We take comfort in knowing that you hold a place in formation for us for the final battle yet to come.”

In memoriam

Sergeant Thomas R. MacPherson was born July 20, 1986, in Long Beach, Calif. After graduating from Los Alamitos High School, he enlisted in the Army in May 2007. MacPherson completed one station unit training, the basic airborne course and the Ranger assessment and selection program at Fort Benning, Ga.

MacPherson was assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment at JBLM in December 2007, where he served as a mortarman. Three years later, he was assigned to D Company as a fire team leader.

MacPherson’s father, Troy MacPherson, told The Orange County Register he saw his son grow up in a matter of weeks after enlisting in the Army, from a young man who wouldn’t clean his room to a Soldier destined for greatness.

“Tommy let us know he was serious about this,” Troy said. “He got disciplined about what he ate and his workouts. He would fill his backpack with rocks and hike up Shell Hill in Signal Hill, (Calif.)”

MacPherson’s awards and decorations include the Ranger tab, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the Expert Infantryman’s Badge, the Parachutist Badge and the U.S. Army Expert Rifle Marksmanship Qualification Badge. He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal with V-device, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal and Purple Heart.

MacPherson is survivied by his wife Claudia and son Brayden of Tacoma, and his parents, Troy and Diana MacPherson of Long Beach, Calif.