By David Ruderman, USAG Vicenza Public AffairsNovember 2, 2012
VICENZA, Italy - Hundreds of Vicenza Military Community members gathered at the post chapel on Caserma Ederle Nov. 1 to pay tribute to a fallen Sky Soldier and civilian killed in Afghanistan.
Sgt. 1st Class Daniel T. Metcalfe and Kevin O'Rourke were killed in action Sept. 29 when their patrol was attacked with small arms fire at Tactical Command Post Columbus, near the mouth of the Tangi Valley in Sayed Abad District, Wardak Province, Afghanistan.
Metcalfe was a platoon sergeant with Destined Company, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, and O'Rourke was serving as a civilian law enforcement adjunct with the 173rd.
Metcalfe grew up in a military family, which had an impact on him from an early age, said Capt. Chris Gasperini, 2nd-503rd rear detachment commander. He described Metcalfe as positive, energetic and humorous young man who enlisted in May 2001, thriving and maturing in the military environment.
"Dan, though at times mischievous, was at his core a natural leader and committed to doing the right thing," he said. Metcalfe served with the Rock during the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and for two tours in Afghanistan. He served as a drill instructor for two years at Fort Benning, Ga., before returning to Vicenza in 2011 and deploying again with the 173rd.
"Being an NCO wasn't just a job for Sergeant Metcalfe; he took every aspect of his role personally," Gasperini said, characterizing him as an NCO of vast experience and unlimited potential who always led from the front.
"Daniel Metcalfe did everything with a purpose. He chose a life of service to his country, to his men and to his family. A seasoned combat paratrooper of four deployments, he was the quintessential noncommissioned officer. He was a staple of the Rock," he said.
"Professionally, I could not have asked for a better mentor or teacher and, personally, he was a friend that I could always count on," said Sgt. Zachary Johanns. "He was devoted husband and father and he talked about his family often. His wife and kids were his world."
"Guys like Daniel Metcalfe don't come around too often, and so it is with a heavy heart that we say good-bye," Gasperini said.
O'Rourke grew up the son of a New York City policeman and detective, and followed in his father's footsteps, serving with the NYPD's elite Emergency Services Unit, said Gasperini. He was on duty Sept. 11, 2001 and worked tirelessly at the site of the World Trade Center to rescue survivors, an experience that motivated him for the rest of his life.
"His desire to serve only deepened," said Gasperini.
O'Rourke was a founding member of H.E.A.R.T. 911, a non-profit dedicated to supporting the survivors and surviving families of victims of the 9/11 attacks.
After retiring in 2003, O'Rourke was a member of the H.E.A.R.T. 911 team that deployed to provide disaster response in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. He also led search and rescue teams in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, after the massive 2010 earthquake there.
"His knowledge and expertise in search and rescue were critical as they navigated very dangerous terrain in the midst of the devastated population," Gasperini said.
When a call went out from NATO in 2011 for law enforcement veterans to serve as investigators and trainers in Iraq, O'Rourke answered the call. In a similar role, he deployed with Task Force Rock in July as 2nd Battalion's law enforcement professional for a tour in Wardak Province.
"Kevin knew that he had a particular skill set and he truly believed it was his duty to help," Gasperini said. "Kevin befriended so many people in the short time he was here. . . . He loved training and working side by side with Soldiers. He believed in the mission."
O'Rourke insisted on getting outside the wire as often as possible and was on patrol with Destined Company when they came under attack, side by side with Sgt. 1st Class Metcalfe.
"It is our utmost honor to forever call him a part of the Rock," said Gasperini.
"Kevin was one of the great ones," said Spc. Kyle Castrovinci, who worked with O'Rourke in Afghanistan. "He was incredibly professional and passionate about his work. . . . I think he loved us as much as he loved his job, and that's saying a lot."
Chaplain (Lt. Col.) David Hall read from John 1:1, addressing the presence of God's light in the darkness, both in the Gospel and in the creation narrative of Genesis, and the question of God's purpose in human affairs.
"If you look at these men that we've lost, the question grows even more pointed. These were men of excellence," he said.
"When we look at these two men and their individual excellence it becomes, if possible, an even greater loss. And as we celebrate and honor their lives, the darkness of death seems darker because of the brightness of how they lived," Hall said.
"May the God who was in the beginning, and who is here with us now, bring comfort, peace and light to each one of us," he said.
The ceremony concluded with the symbolic calling of the roll, the playing of taps and the rendering of honors to the fallen.
Metcalfe is survived by his wife, Vesna, their children, Kalyn, Alexis, Edward and Nathaniel, his parents Tom and Sherri, his sister Debi and his brother James.
O'Rourke is survived by his children, Kaitlyn and Kevin Jr., his mother Loretta, and his girlfriend Jacquelyn.