A Gonzaga University ROTC graduate deployed to Afghanistan died after the helicopter he was in took on enemy fire and crashed Wednesday.
Professors with Gonzaga’s ROTC program said Friday that 1st Lt. Mathew G. Fazzari, a 2010 graduate, showed a knack for leadership during his time at the university.
“He did not eagerly seek the spotlight, but he was always willing to jump up and lead,” Lt. Col. Gregory Jacobsen said. As news of his death has spread around the tight-knit Gonzaga ROTC community, “what’s really becoming clear is the impact he’s had on these young cadets.”
Also killed in the crash was Capt. Scott P. Pace, of Brawley, Calif.
The men died of injuries caused when their OH-58D Kiowa helicopter was engaged by enemy forces in Ghazni province, Afghanistan, according to a press release from the 82nd Airborne Division.
Fazzari, 25 and of Walla Walla, is the second soldier commissioned through the Gonzaga ROTC program to die in the war on terror; 1st Lt. Forrest P. Ewens was killed in Afghanistan when his all-terrain vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb. Ewens graduated from Whitworth University, which does not have its own ROTC program.
The Forrest Ewens Servant Leadership Award was established in Ewens’ memory and was awarded to Fazzari while he was at Gonzaga.
“He believed in the ideals of this country,” said Lt. Col. Alan Westfield, recruitment officer with Gonzaga ROTC. “He had a real sincere approach to life that was inspiring.”
Fazzari is survived by his wife, Tovah, and his two children, Dominic and Samuel, according to the 82nd Airborne.
Fazzari and Pace were assigned to the 1st Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.