Jan. 4, 2013
LITCHFIELD PARK, Ariz. - Playing in honor of a former Army baseball player Major Steve Reich, Army golfer John Lee recently completed play at the Patriot All-American on the Gold Course at The Wigman.
Lee fired rounds of 77-76-76 and finished at 229 and in a tie for 68th in the 82-person field.
Sebastian Cappelen blistered the course with a four-under-par 206 to win the event with Kevin Penner a stroke back. Daniel Berger and Jimmy Kozikowski were tied for third.
This year marked the second Patriot All-American. Last year, Matt Philie played in honor of Derek Hines.
"This was a great event," said Lee, a freshman from Los Alamitos, Calif. "They treated us so well. It was one on of the better collegiate events I have played in and the competition was excellent. I didn't play as well as I would have liked but it was good to compete again. I learned that you have to work hard if you want to succeed."
The Patriot All-American is an invitation event and based on individuals earning PING All-America honors the previous season in NCAA Divisions I, II and III as well as the NAIA and NJCAA Divisions I and II. Additionally, a member from each of the United States Military Academies have been invited as well as GCAA national award recipients, members of the most recent Palmer Teams and AJGA All-Americans and Toyota Junior Golf World Cup participants currently enrolled in their freshman year of college.
"My best shot was probably eagling number 4 on my first day," said Lee. "The hole was long and I couldn't reach it in two but I chipped in from about 10 yards away. What I found out the on the second day was that it was the only eagle during the first two rounds."
All golfers carried red, white and blue golf bags with the name, rank and branch of a solider lost in battle.
Lee's bag featured Major Stephen Reich, a 1994 West Point graduate who was killed in action in 2005.
Reich, who played for USA Baseball National Team in 1993, was an All-American pitcher at Army. Following his graduation, he was assigned to the University of Kentucky ROTC program and played professional baseball in the Baltimore Orioles organization. In 1996, he was ordered to Germany where he served as Platoon Leader in Company A, 5th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment. During his subsequent tour with the 12th Aviation Brigade, he served in Operation Allied Force, deploying to Hungary, Bosnia, Albania and Kosovo.
Upon arrival at the Special Operations Aviation Regiment in 2001, he deployed with the Second Battalion to Operation Enduring Freedom as Battle Captain in support of Task Force Dagger. In December 2001, he served as Operations Officer for 2nd Battalion's detachment of MH-47E air craft in Afghanistan. Reich them completed a one-year assignment to Daegu, Republic of Korea as the Operations Officer for E Company, 160th SOAR.
Reich and 15 other service members were killed in Afghanistan when their MH-47 Chinook helicopter was shot down by enemy fire while on a rescue mission.
His military awards include the Bronze Star (awarded twice), Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Senior Aviator, Airborne and Air Assault Badges. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart, a third Bronze Star, and the Air Medal with Valor device.
"After learning about Major Reich and his story, I was very proud to carry his name on my bag."
The Patriot All-American benefitted Folds of Honor Foundation which utilizes scholarships and other assistance to give back to spouses and children or soldiers who were disabled or killed serving their country.