Marine Sgt. William J. Cahir
Died August 13, 2009 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom
40, of Washington D.C.; assigned to 4th Civil Affairs Group, Marine Forces Reserve, Washington D.C.; died Aug. 13 while supporting combat operations in Nawa, Afghanistan.
Former journalist, Pa. congressional candidate dies in Afghanistan
By Dan Robrish
The Associated Press
PHILADELPHIA — Sgt. Bill Cahir, a former news reporter and congressional candidate, has been killed in Afghanistan while serving with the Marines, a family friend said Aug 13. He was 40.
The friend, June Weaver, answered the telephone at a relative’s house and confirmed Cahir’s death to The Associated Press but said the family did not wish to comment.
Cahir was lauded at a newspaper where he used to work.
“This is an American hero as far as I’m concerned,” said Joe Owens, editor of The Express-Times of Easton. “This guy’s the real thing.”
Cahir, a Bellefonte native, was working in the newspaper’s Washington, D.C., bureau before his most recent deployment.
Owens said Cahir enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve in 2003 in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
“He was in his mid-30s, only days away from being ineligible — too old — to sign up for the Marine Corps, and he essentially talked his way in because it was something he had to do,” Owens said.
Cahir did two tours of duty in Iraq before returning to Pennsylvania.
He ran in a three-way Democratic primary last year to replace longtime Republican Rep. John Peterson, who retired. Clearfield County Commissioner Mark McCracken won the primary and was in turn defeated by Republican Glenn Thompson in the overwhelmingly Republican district, which covers a large area of north-central Pennsylvania.
The Express-Times reported that after losing the primary, Cahir said, “My journalism career is over. I’ll talk to the Marine Corps and see what they want me to do and talk to my wife and see what she wants me to do.”
Owens called the former newspaperman “a great American.”
“He was committed to serving this country,” Owens said. “He was on a career path before this that could have led anywhere for him, and he chose this because it was what he needed to do.”
Cahir laid to rest at Arlington
By Ann Sanner
The Associated Press
ARLINGTON, Va. — Marine Sgt. William J. Cahir, a former news reporter and congressional candidate, was laid to rest with full military honors Aug. 31 at Arlington National Cemetery.
Cahir, 40, died Aug. 13 of an enemy gunshot wound while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.
More than 200 people gathered at the cemetery for his burial services. A horse-drawn cart carried Cahir’s flag-draped casket to the grave site. A squad of Marines fired several shots into the air. Many in the crowd placed their hands over their hearts and bowed their heads as a bugler played taps.
In response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Cahir enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve in November 2003. He was assigned to 4th Civil Affairs Group, Marine Forces Reserve, based out of Washington, D.C.
He had done two tours of duty in Iraq before returning to Pennsylvania last year to run in a three-way Democratic primary to replace longtime Republican Rep. John Peterson, who retired. Clearfield County Commissioner Mark McCracken won the primary and was in turn defeated by Republican Glenn Thompson.
Cahir is survived by his wife, Rene E. Browne of Alexandria, who is pregnant with their twins.
In a written statement, Browne described Cahir as “a loved and cherished husband, son, brother and excited father-to-be, as well as a friend and colleague who touched the lives of so many.”
“Bill was a hero to me, and to his family and friends, long before he gave his life for his country,” Browne said.
Cahir, a Bellefonte, Pa., native, previously worked as a Washington correspondent for Newhouse News Service, writing for several newspapers in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. He quit in early 2008 to run for Congress.
Cahir was deployed to Afghanistan last spring. His military awards include three Navy and Marine Corps achievement medals and two combat action ribbons.
Survivors include his parents, John and Mary Anne Cahir of State College, Pa.; and two sisters and a brother.
A memorial fund has been set up for his children.