Capt Robert A. Brett, Maj Gregory L. Stone, Maj James R. Trower Memorial Scholarship
Robert “Lefty” Brett was the son of Florence and Robert Brett, Sr. of Corvallis. His parents met in 1943 at Fort Benton, Montana; Robert Sr. was in military training and Florence was in nursing school. Before their marriage, Robert Sr. served in World War II. Robert Sr. and Florence spent time in Texas, Minnesota, Wyoming, Japan, and Montana, before assignment to Adair Air Force Station, north of Corvallis. When Robert Sr. was sent to Vietnam in 1966-67, Florence moved to Corvallis and Lefty attended Corvallis High School. Lefty graduated from CHS in 1966 and attended Oregon State University where, among other things, he enrolled in Air Force ROTC and learned to fly. In 1969, he married Patrice Costello and in 1970 he graduated from OSU and received a commission as an Air Force second lieutenant. In early 1972, Lefty and Patrice were blessed with a daughter, Camille (“Cami”). Lefty loved to fly. He was proud of his father, who spent thirty-one years in the Air Force, and it was his dream to fly with the Air Force Thunderbirds. Leaving his family was hard, especially since Cami was only eight months old, but he wanted to serve his country in Vietnam. He was in Vietnam only four days when, on September 29, 1972, Lefty and his co-pilot skimmed 200 feet above the ground in an F-111 on a night raid to North Vietnam. Their plane went down somewhere in the jungle and remained “lost” for almost 30 years, with Lefty listed as missing in action. The wreckage was finally discovered in 2000, and in February 2002 the remains of Lefty Brett and his co-piolot were identified. Lefty was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery. On October 12, 2002, more than thirty years later, family, loved ones, friends, and Air Force cadets who had not even been born when Lefty disappeared attended the “Celebration of Life” at Saint Mary’s Catholic Church. The following verse by Laurence Binyon was used to remember Lefty.
For the Fallen
They shall not grow old.
As we that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them,
not the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun...
and in the morning...
we will remember them.
Gregory “Linus” Stone was born February 6, 1963 in Weiser, Idaho to Richard and Betty Stone. His parents divorced when he was ten and his family grew to include a stepfather, Tony Lenzi, and a stepmother, Sally Stone. Gregg had one sister, Tammy Hall, and three half-brothers, Frankie Lenzi, Joe Stone, and Brian Stone. Gregg spent his childhood in the Portland area, graduating from Benson Polytech High School. He received a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a minor in Russian studies from Oregon State University in 1988 and a master’s degree in human resource management in 1994. In 1992, Gregg was blessed with his first son, Evan Alexander. In 1995, Gregg was smiled upon again with his second son, Joshua Andrew. At the time of his death in 2003, Gregg was planning to add two more people to his family, his “princess,” Tammie Eslinger, and his little chess partner, Kaleb Eslinger. Gregg’s dream began in front of the family television; a little boy looking on in awe as Neil Armstrong landed on the moon. As the boy grew, so did the dreams. Watching the contrails of jets high in the sky, the little boy imagined himself racing ahead of them, piloting the fastest jet in the world. It was no surprise when the dream became a reality. It was no surprise when Gregg Stone made the Air Force his career. Gregg enlisted in the Air Force soon after graduation and trained as an aircraft in-flight refueling operator in KC-135’s. An officer in Gregg’s crew convinced him that he was a “natural born officer“ and guided him to the ROTC program at Oregon State University. A 1988 graduate of OSU and Detachment 685, Gregg went on to enjoy a twenty-year career in the Air Force. In 1990, Gregg transitioned to flight operations as a Navigator and Weapons Systems Operator (WSO), initially flying as an Electronic Warfare Officer in the B-52 with the 20th Bomb Squadron in Caswell AFB, Texas, and Castle AFB, California. In 1994, Gregg began his affair with what he called “the most beautiful plane in the world,” the B1-B Lancer. Flying as a WSO with the 34th Bomb Squadron at Ellsworth, AFB and Mountain Home AFB, Gregg realized he was living the dream of his childhood, “flying machity mach 500 feet off the ground” and defending the freedoms of his country. Gregg flew with the Thunderbirds of the 34th until 1999 and took on the roles of flight commander and instructor. When his adventure with the Thunderbirds ended, Gregg embarked on a new challenge in the Air Expeditionary Battlelab in Mountain Home AFB. In the Battlelab, Gregg used the skills and knowledge from his years in the cockpit to initiate advanced technology systems, many of which were utilized in theater. After leaving the Air Force, Gregg continued to support the Battlelab as a contractor with Scitor Corporation, which afforded him the opportunity to take his involvement in the military to a new level. In 2000, he became a member of the Idaho Air National Guard’s 124th Air Support Operations Squadron in Boise, ID. As an Operations Officer, Flight Commander, Terminal Air Controller and Air Liaison Officer with the 124th, he provided coordination between Army and Air Force command centers. In February 2003, Gregg was presented with the opportunity to use the skills he had been perfecting his entire adult life in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Two days after the start of the war, his dream came to a tragic end. On March 25, 2003, Major Gregory Stone died of injuries sustained three days prior when a grenade was thrown into his tent at Camp Pennsylvania, Kuwait. While Gregg’s life ended too soon, it was full. He believed in living for today because tomorrow wasn’t a promise. He took on every day as an adventure, making the moments count, allowing life to envelope his soul and guide his actions. Whatever he was doing, working or playing, Gregg gave it his all. In his professional life, he was a true leader, believing that the success of the group depended on the commitment of the individual. He embodied the true spirit of the military and was proud of his role as an officer. In his personal life, Gregg played with the same level of intensity. Gregg liked the finer things and believed that life was meant to be spent in luxury hotels at Disney World, and on tall ship cruises, savoring the fruits of his labor. He enjoyed skiing and skating and taking long walks along the river. He liked dancing and singing, and nothing could make him gloat faster than beating the princess at air hockey. Most of all Gregg liked to share whatever he was doing with those who meant the most to him, his friends and family. Family was of utmost importance to Gregg. He was an incredible father and nothing meant more to him than Alex and Joshua. Every minute he was able to spend with them was a precious gift. They embarked on many adventures together: reading about King Arthur, building legos, skipping rocks, taking walks, “snugging” on the couch, and just being boys. Gregg taught his sons by example about pride, commitment and love, giving them the tools they would need to become successful young men. While he is no longer here to lead them, the lessons Alex and Joshua learned from their dad will remain ingrained in their hearts and minds, allowing them to carry on the strong values that were so important to Gregg. The gifts of love that Gregg showered upon his sons were also shared with his family and friends. He treasured his friends and family, realizing how blessed he was to have them. He was admired for his knowledge, praised for his ambition, smiled upon for his playful nature, and commended for his loyalty. He had a natural connection with children, quickly becoming their friend. He took his nephews on adventures to the beach and on hikes; taught Kaleb about life, chess and fishing; and quickly became the most popular boy on the playground when he was visiting his sons at school. Gregg made fabulous memories with his family and left countless stories of his daily adventures for them to cherish. Forever, those who were fortunate enough to be touched by Gregg’s life will have the memory of his quick smile, his kind heart, and his quiet intelligence. Before Gregg left, he whispered, “If the worst happens and I don’t return, you, Princess, are my only voice. Let them know what I am about.” In an effort to follow through with that request, this scholarship was established. Gregg often credited the ROTC for helping to shape him into the fine leader for which he was known. Providing that same opportunity for the officers of tomorrow will help ensure that the military that meant so much to Gregg will continue to stand strong, protecting the freedoms for which Gregg was willing to die.
James Robert Trower was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to Wilfred and Ollie Lybarger Trower. He attended Holy Family Catholic High School in Tulsa, but left high school early and joined the Navy. He spent two years as a medic, then joined the Air Force, where he would become an officer and serve for over twenty-one years. Major Trower earned the Bronze Star Medal with oak leaf cluster and the Meritorious Service Medal. He served two tours in Vietnam, in 1965 and 1967, specializing in radar installation. He married Shirley Ann Price at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska on May 31, 1952. He was stationed in Watertown and Syracuse, New York, and Taiwan for nearly three years, then was transferred to Corvallis in 1964, where he was stationed at Adair Air Force Base. In 1968, he was transferred to Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines for two-and-a-half years before retiring in 1970. The family decided to make Corvallis their permanent home. James worked at several jobs before finding a position with the Oregon State Employment Division, where he worked for nearly twenty years. He also attended night classes at Oregon State University and Linn-Benton Community College and earned an associate’s degree in business management. James’ family included sons Jeff, Tim, and Andy, and daughter Julie. His wife Shirley preceded him in death, and he married Marilyn Minden on November 19, 1995. James and Shirley enjoyed traveling between their homes in Corvallis and Phoenix, Arizonia. He belonged to the Military Officers Association in Corvallis and was a charter member of the Salem chapter. He also belonged to the Elks Club and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and was a volunteer driver for the Corvallis Meals-on-Wheels program. He enjoyed golf, reading, travel, and especially his family and his children’s activities. He and his sons traveled long distances to play golf together, which served to maintain their close family ties.