By Michelle Ouellette
A soldier who studied at SUNY Plattsburgh was killed in the line of duty Nov. 3 while serving with the Army in Afghanistan.
Staff Sgt. Dain Venne, of Port Henry, N.Y., was on track to graduate in 2009 but was called to active duty on Sept. 11 of that year.
The history major and two other soldiers — Specialist Brett E. Gornewicz from Alden, N.Y., and Specialist Ryan P. Jayne from Campbell, N.Y. — were on patrol in Paktiya Province, Afghanistan, when their Humvee was struck by a roadside bomb. All three were fatally wounded.
The son of alumna Laura Venne ’92 G’98, Dain was also “a decorated Port Henry firefighter” and “one of the best” Vikings football players Moriah Central School ever produced, according to a WOKO Facebook post.
All SUNY Plattsburgh's ROTC cadets turned out to lower the flag to half-staff in honor Staff Sgt. Dain Venne and his two colleagues who were killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan.
Alex Santo, a member of Venne’s company in Afghanistan, commented on that same post.
“He was my squad leader when I joined the Army. … Dain was my hero and is greatly missed by myself and his men over here. This is to let everyone know that he was that hero everyone could expect in a soldier,” Santo wrote.
Venne was moved by the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to sign up for the Army Reserve. According to an article in the Press-Republican, “he turned down a chance to come home last month because he wanted to stay and help train newly arriving troops.”
The article went on to say that he had returned for a second tour of duty because he wanted to help the many innocent victims in that war-torn country.
Faculty members who knew Venne expressed admiration for him.
“He was a really eager learner with a keen mind. He was a gentle presence in the classroom,” said Assistant Professor of History Richard Schaefer, who had Venne in a lower-level history class.
Professor James Lindgren added that Venne was an achiever who was willing to lend his voice to the classroom.
Lindgren especially remembers Venne from his History 315 class. When Lindgren asked class members to pick a historical character to portray, Venne chose to play the role of Mary "Mother" Jones, a prominent labor leader from the turn of the 20th century.
“I still smile about it. … It showed an ability to think outside of the box,” Lindgren said.
The college’s Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps has made a tradition out of lowering the flags on campus in honor of New Yorkers killed in the line of duty. Normally a handful of the cadets form the color guard for this short ceremony.
On Nov. 7, however, all SUNY Plattsburgh’s ROTC cadets turned out in honor of Venne.
"It's a real sobering experience," said Cadet Tyler Parker to a WCAX television reporter. "You are always thinking: I have friends over there. I have friends who have been killed. I always think about them, why I want to be in the military and the sacrifice people make for our country and the sacrifice we are willing to make when we sign up."
Next story: Psychology Alumna Involved in Autism Research.
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