ASU honors '03 grad killed in Afghanistan
by Kellen Moore
Family, friends and members of the Appalachian State University community gathered Saturday to remember the life of Terry Varnadore II, a 2003 ASU graduate who died in 2011 while serving in the U.S. Army.
The ceremony, held at the Veterans Memorial on campus, included a presentation of the flag, national anthem, playing of taps and a tribute to Varnadore from his college roommate, David Small.
Small reminisced about the two years he spent living with Varnadore and three others in a rental home in Boone. Those days were full of the memories that make up a college experience, he said, including fighting possums out of the trash cans and a “potato gun incident” Small said he could “neither confirm nor deny.”
“What we did do a lot of in that house was take care of each other,” Small said.
He recalled that Varnadore was an excellent listener, who truly took an interest in the concerns and thoughts of others. Small said Varnadore often would step into his room in the evenings to ask how he was doing.
“We ask people that every day, but when Terry did it, he meant it,” Small said.
Small was joined by Varnadore’s widow, Casey — also an ASU graduate — and their daughters Ava and Leila. Also present were Varnadore’s parents, Terry and Tina Varnadore of Mills River, as well as his younger brother, Tyler, who followed his brother to Appalachian State University.
Chief Warrant Officer Varnadore enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2005. The Henderson County native was a helicopter pilot assigned to Company C “Blue Max,” TF Phoenix, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, 10th Mountain Division.
He died April 23, 2011, when his aircraft went down during a night mission in Kapisa Province in Afghanistan.
Chancellor Kenneth Peacock said he keeps a photo of Varnadore and his wife on his desk as a reminder of the sacrifices made to ensure American freedom. Although the campus plaque is just a simple piece of bronze, Peacock said, each name represents a person with a unique story and a servant’s heart.
“Thank you for sharing him with us as a student,” Peacock said to the family and friends gathered.