A Great American, And A Terrible Loss For One Of Our Own
Son of a longtime colleague has died in Afghanistan.
Certainly all of us in the analyst community and anyone who does business with NEC America knows Sales and Marketing Director Frank Viola. If you spent any time with Frank, you would also know about his son, Staff Sgt. Alex Viola, U.S. Army Special Forces Command. Last Sunday during his first deployment with the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Staff Sgt. Alex Viola died from wounds received from an improvised explosive device during a dismounted patrol in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Staff Sgt Viola was 29 years old.
I remember Frank telling me about Alex at one of NEC's analyst events with a good deal of concern but with a kind of pride you couldn't begin to imagine. Right out of high school Alex had wanted to go into special forces. Frank and his wife Peggy wanted him to get a college education, so Alex enrolled in the University of North Texas and received his engineering degree in four years.
Degree in hand, Alex enlisted in the U.S. Navy and was accepted in SEAL training. During "hell week" at the end of his training, Alex was injured and could not be accepted in the SEALs. Undeterred, he re-entered the military with the U.S. Army and became an engineering sergeant with U.S. Army Special Forces, a "Green Beret."
The biggest dream Alex had in his life was to serve in an elite military unit. His dedication was so great that when an injury ended his chance to be a SEAL, he went to a different branch to become a Green Beret, and in the end went through both Navy SEAL and Army Special Forces Training. According to the release from U.S. Army Special Forces Command, his Army training included U.S. Army Basic Airborne Course" (the red badge on his left breast is his "jump wings"), Combat Lifesaver Course, the Warrior Leader Course, Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape Course, the Special Forces Qualification Course, the Advanced Leader Course and the Combat Diver Qualification Course.
While all of us are so proud of Alex, none of us can begin to grasp the pain being felt by Frank and Peggy Viola. The fact that such talented and dedicated people are willing, even eager, to train to that level and put themselves in such risk for our country is truly humbling.
Our prayers and our sincerest sympathies go out to Frank and Peggy, and none of us will soon forget Alex or what he sacrificed for us.
If you wish to express your condolences, the Viola family has specifically identified the following two organizations, and please feel free to make donations to either or both in loving memory of Alex Viola.