Being a veteran along with both of my grandfathers (WWII), my Dad (during Vietnam), two of my brothers and two of my cousins, Memorial Day holds a very sacred and special place in my heart. I know first-hand that the blood of my Brothers and Sisters in Arms have paid the ultimate price for the freedoms that we, as a country, so often take for granted. It is painfully difficult to put into words what this sacred day truly means. Respect. Honor. Pride. Resilience. Espris de corps. Retrospect. All common and terribly inadequate descriptors for the precious value of human life bartered in the name of our country’s independence.
Today, I would like to share, commemorate and, most of all, respectfully celebrate the life of Sgt. Donald Jay Hasse who was killed in action November 29, 2005 by an improvised explosive device that detonated near his Humvee in Taji, Iraq along with Sgt. Jerry W. Mills Jr. serving in the U.S. Army and assigned to the 1st Battalion, 13th Armor Regiment, Fort Riley, Kansas in support of Operation Iraqi Freedon. “Never Coming Home” was written by Sgt. Hasse’s brother; my friend and vocalist for one of my favorite bands: Inner Demons (Karl-Rick Hasse: vocals, Chuck Hillyard: lead guitar, Zakk Hillyard: bass guitar, Sean Watson: rhythm guitar, James Leopard recently replaced by Chris White: drums) out of Jacksonville, FL. This poignant and moving song was written over the course of ten years by Karl, honoring his heroic brother. It is also fitting for a band that bleeds Red, White and Blue. Every member of the band is a true patriot and always takes time to remember and honor members of our Armed Forces, be it Memorial Day or not. I have heard this song a hundred times now and seen them emotionally play it live almost as many times and it never ceases to illicit a strong emotional response, often to tears. This is one very, very special and personal song.
For my Memorial Day article, I knew immediately what I wanted to cover, but after drafting and redrafting it, I felt that I could not do justice to this American Hero. Instead, what follows are memorial postings for Sgt. Hasse, written by those that knew and loved him. So, in your remembrance on this Memorial Day, keep in mind the scarred families and friends left behind. We owe a debt of gratitude to them as well for the burden they will carry for the rest of their days in the name of the United States of America. This represents just one of thousands from all over this Great Land. Never, ever forget…
I would also like to thank Karl for his help and for allowing me the honor of spotlighting his brother, Sgt. Donald J. Hasse this Memorial Day and for Inner Demons allowing me the use of “Never Coming Home”. Love and respect, my brothers!
28, of Wichita Falls, Texas; assigned to the 1st Battalion, 13th Armor Regiment, Fort Riley, Kan.; killed Nov. 29 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Humvee during combat operations in Taji, Iraq. Also killed was Sgt. Jerry W. Mills Jr.
“My thoughts and prayers are with you all.”
Terry Mills of 67005
“Its been nearly 10 years and I still think about you sometimes. I knew friends of yours, serving with you that day. Your death touched them so deeply and through them, me. I’m sorry you’re gone. I hope your family has found peace.”
O of Australia
“I grew up with Donald met him in the 6th grade I think, in Burburnett. He was an awesome friend. The some thing in remember the most about Donald was one winter it was cold in Texas, I didn’t have a coat. I came from a single parent family. My non-violent afford to buy one. Donald asked me where mine was at I said I don’t have one, he took his off and gave it to me no questions. That’s the type of person Donald always was he gave with no questions.”
“I was station back at Shephard when your named came up on the news. I didn’t acknowledge it because why would it have been you. Then almost a month later it clicked in my head. I freaked out and called my dad. He said yes it was him and he thought I already knew. I cried. I am so sorry for the pain your family has had to bear including your wife and son. I grew up with you and we hung out at each others house. We were just good friends. I am so sorry that I never had the courage to go and see your mom. You were such a great guy and always made us laugh. Your mom was and I’m sure still is so proud of you. God bless you your sacrifice and your family.”
Kirsten Hess of San Antonio, TX
“Hey Baby! I am at your sister’s house this Memorial Day. For me, every day is Memorial Day because YOU are constantly in my thoughts. Hope you and Grammie are having fun up there “doing your laps”……..She talked about that all the time. I love you and miss you so very much and I will speak your name as often as I can so that others never forget you. Your Mommy”
BethAnn Todd of Copperas Cove, TX, USA
“Hey brother. I hope you’re having a blast at fiddler’s green. I miss u and will see u again when I get there. I will give u that Celtic cross I promised u back then. my prayers are with you’re family. Take care and keep watching over your family and every once in a while when u have time watch out for me. I miss u brother.”
Lil H of Las Vegas, NV
“Seems like yesterday……I still think of the good times bro, you jammin to crunk at midnight and me trying to sleep haha. You were always a brother to me. Us Texas boys trying to stay out of trouble. From guard shack to retrans, to the long nights of redbulls and the early mornings of Fletcher. You were always able to make me see the good in what we were doing. I re-enlisted shortly after we had to say goodbye……served another 7 years in your memory. I will always miss you brother! Your in my thoughts everyday! Hold it down until we meet again.
Your roomie and friend
“It shall be done!”
Chris of Beaumont Texas
“To the family of: Donald J. Hasse
I am so sorry for the loss of your love one. My heart cries out for you in your grief and you have my thoughts and prayers. He died a hero defending freedom. May you have the peace and understanding that only comes from God. Prayerfully we will all meet in Heaven one day where we will rest in the arms of Jesus.
Your friend in Jesus Christ, Polly Ballew Covington,Ga”
It has been nearly 7 years now and you are still in my thoughts. You will never be forgotten! It was truly an honor to serve with you in Taji! Those nights on retrans were pretty crazy. You are and always will be a hero in my life!
Keepin it real!
It Shall Be Done! of Columbus, Ohio
“Hey 3 Golf, I Still haven’t figured out who your internet carrier is on the other side…all I know is that you must be gettin messages. Thanks for lookin out for me on this last deployment, I felt you with me everyday. Five years have gone by so fast. I miss you and the laughter that you always brought to the platoon…keep Mills straight, he always was a squirly one. Love you and miss you brother.”
Ironhorse White 3 of Ft. Knox, Ky.
As it come up on 5 years since you left us here on earth I still miss you just as much! You were my best friend and I will love you forever! You gave the ultimate sacrifice with your life for our country. On earth you were such an amazing person who was always there for me when I needed you. I will always be grateful for the short amount of time I was lucky enough to have you as a friend. I still hold on to the movies that you gave me many years ago just because they came from you and your picture will remain in my house until the day I am called off the earth. I love you!”
Summer of Manhattan, KS
“I think about u and mills and sacco all the time. Sorry I couldn’t start on ur tattoo. I won’t forget u”
David lilH Hernandez of Las Vegas NV
“Think about you often Brother! Isaias is in town TDY and we had a few brews the other nite and you were with us. See you on the other other side Bro!”
Ryan Tozier of Big Spring, KY
“Hi Baby it’s Mama again….4 years now. I still miss you more than words can explain. People keep telling me it will get easier, but so far it hasn’t. You would be so proud of your son. He is growing into a fine young man. Know that not a day goes by that I don’t cry for you and I still want you to save me a seat next to you in heaven. I love you my precious baby! Mama”
“July 16, 2009
Hasse, I just found out about you being gone. My heart sunk when I realized that you were gone. I remember all the good times we had when we were in 2/34 AR. I didn’t realize that we were in Iraq at the same time. I made many trips to Taji from Tallil. It is unfortunate that we never ran into each other. I want to thank you for all you have done. I will miss you Brother. God bless you and your family.”
Cody McCain of Midland, Texas
“The young dead soldiers do not speak.
Nevertheless, they are heard in the still houses:
who has not heard them?
They have a silence that speaks for them at night
and when the clock counts.
They say: We were young. We have died.
They say: We have done what we could
but until it is finished it is not done.
They say: We have given our lives but until it is finished
no one can know what our lives gave.
They say: Our deaths are not ours: they are yours,
they will mean what you make them.
They say: Whether our lives and our deaths were for
peace and a new hope or for nothing we cannot say,
it is you who must say this.
We leave you our deaths. Give them their meaning.
We were young, they say. We have died; remember us.
by Archibald MacLeish,
1892-1982, American Poet”
William D. Taylor of Bonita Srings, Fl.
“Hasse was a good friend and the world have really lost a kind and caring person. I serve with Donald in Iraq in 2003-2004, we took care of each and we joke about him being a Texas Tech fan and I was a Texas fan. But in the end he was one of my best friend and he will be miss.”
Howard Kinney of Balad, Iraq
“Almost 3 years. I will miss you and love you the rest of my days on earth.”
“To my baby Donald Jay Hasse,
It has been almost three years now and my tears still fall every day. You were the light of my life and I miss you more with each passing day. I still remember the last words you said to me and I hope you will “save me a seat” since you got there first. Say hello to Papa and all the loved ones who are there with you. Remember I love you with all my heart! Your Mommy”
Beth Ann Todd of Wichita, KS
“November 12, 2008
To the family of Sgt. Donald J. Hasse:
Donald gave the ultimate sacrifice and will be held in the hearts of Americans forever. I cannot and will not let our fallen heroes be forgotten. My deepest sympathy to you. “Some gave all.”
“Don’t Let The Memory Of Them Drift Away”
Peggy Childers of Carson City, NV
“Donald you are in my thoughts every moment of the day. We didn’t get to spend lots of time together but the times that we did we partyed like rock stars.”
Amy Fankhauser of Wichita, Ks
“Miss you Brother! Nothing but good times I remember and your sense of humor and smile. Mary and I think of you a lot and I tell everyone I meet about you! Your sacrifice will not go unheard! Love you Bro!”
Ryan Tozier of Fort Knox, KY
“I served with SGT Hasse, He was a true Soldier in every sense of the word. He is missed.
Even Heroes have Heroes
Copyrighted November 2006
Author: Phil White
The American public has dubbed us the Military men and women as Heroes,
For the sacrifices that we make,
They have made us their Heroes,
They have honored us with their praise and support.
The unstated fact about Heroes is this,
Even Heroes have Heroes!
My Heroes sacrifice more then I,
For this is the nature of the beast.
My Heroes confront each day as though they have a million more,
And never speak of the reality that it may be their last.
My Heroes have their mounts shot out from underneath them,
And get back up and ride again.
My Heroes face explosion after dreadful explosion,
With only the utterance of a few expletives and a prayer,
My Heroes face attack after horrifying attack,
And return with a smile and a quip.
My Heroes may not be the best “Soldiers”,
But they accomplish each mission in the face of adversity.
My Heroes don’t know they are Heroes,
They blush in the presence of praises and thanks.
I don’t know all my Heroes by name,
For they are too numerous.
I have the privilege of calling some of my Heroes “Buddies”,
For my Heroes know there are “behind the scenes” people.
Some of my Hero buddies have paid the ultimate price,
We honor them with tears, smiles and memories.
For even Heroes have Heroes!
Dedicated to the Memory of SGT Dominic Socco and SGT Ronald Hasse.”
SGT Phil White of Woodbine, KS
“I grew up with Donald in WF and went to school with him in Burkburnett. We were close friends for a long time. It’s funny, because our friendship started after a fight after practice one day. I remember when he told me he was joining the Army. He was a great friend and like a brother to me. I will never forget you, Don.”
Brad Bloss of Easton, PA
“Hey brother, its been two years today. I haven’t stopped reliving that day, and trying to figure out what I could have done different. You are still with me, please keep me out of trouble!! Love you brother!”
SSG Ryan Baker of Knox, KY
“My dear Donald,
It’s been almost two years now since you left this world. There is not a single minute of a single day when you are not in my thoughts. You will be in my heart forever. I miss you more now than yesterday but not as much as I will miss you tomorrow. I love you, my baby! Mommy”
miss you buddy. we had some good times at Hood”
Sgt.J of TX.
“Man we shared some laughs and some heated conversations. You are missed, and your memories will last forever.
SSG BIEL of Fort Knox, Kentucky
I remember seeing you a few times around the battery in taji. We operated 1 or 2 missions together. We honor your sacrifice and service to our country and I am personally honored to have served alongside a soldier, son,father of such caliber.
Your battle buddy,
Michael Gobert of Houston, TX
“I served with Hasse since he came to Fort Riley. He was was a great Soldier, and a good friend. I know he loved serving his country and being on tanks while doing so. I think about him often, and remember the good times and laughs we had together. I am deeply sorry for your loss. May God bless you and your family.”
SGT Lipiec, Michael E of Fort Shafter, Hawaii
“For the Hasse family: I am so sorry for your loss. I cannot imagine the grief and shock you must have suffered. I am originally from Burkburnett and, though I did not know Donald, I believe I knew his older sister. Regardless, my thoughts and prayers go out to all of you and to everyone who has lost a friend or family member during this struggle. God bless you and be with you.”
Delton Pate of Arkansas
“All my thought are with the Hasse family..I’m from the Hasse family in Sarasota, Florida..
God bless you…”
Hamza of Sarasota, Florida, USA
“DONALD WAS A GREAT FRIEND. I WAS TERRIBLY SHOCKED TO HEAR THE SAD NEWS OF HIS DEATH. OUR CHILDREN PLAYED TOGETHER WHEN WE WERE BOTH STATIONED AT FORT HOOD. WE WILL MISS YOU!!”
MICHELLE HOUSE of CHATAM, IL, USA
“I served with Donald and can’t say how sad I was to hear he was hit. he was a great friend and always an inspiration. and always ready with a laugh”
SPC Mark Critchlow of West Bend, WI
“Donnie, you are thought of and missed on a daily basis. I love and miss you brother. My family and I will honor your memory forever.”
Mark Rickerman of Mansfield, Texas
“We Will NEVER FORGET !”
Please KNOW so many people share your sadness,
and we are remembering your family in your loss and your deep grief.
Our nations HERO, Donald will be remembered by name.
Our thoughts and prayers are with you.
Pat & Sandi Breckenridge / Montana God Bless you ALWAYS.“
“To the Hasse Family, I wish to offer to you my deepest condolences. You are all in our thoughts and prayers. Your Donald is a true American Hero who will always be remembered and honored. May God Bless you all and God Bless you Donald.”
Mary Ghaney of Brooklyn, New York
“Donald thank you for serving our country. You have not died in VAIN! You are an AMERICAN HERO! And thank you for being a military brother to our son. I assure you Gregory felt you had been his brother. Sadly, we lost him. I have shed many many tears. Today the very same tears are for you. You are a very special soldier. Serving our country truly. Is a calling in life. One that you have to be very unselfish to be a soldier. no other profession risk his or her life day in and day out. Every Americans, owes you our deepest respect! Donald you have made America a lot safer since 911! You given the people of Iraq HOPE! To one day live in peace. And you have touched the hearts of so many. To all those you have. All will remember and cherish times shared with you. For you impacted them in a very caring and loving way. To tour family healing is a slow process. Take it one day at a time. be supportive toward one another. Donald loved your all dearly. And he knew how much you all loved him! Donald, my heart and prays are with you and your family. God Bless father of fallen soldier US Army Sgt Gregory L. Wahl KIA Balad, Iraq 05-03-04”
Leonard Wahl of VALLEY STREAM NY
“I am truly sorry for your loss and the loss of yet another Texan. May you find comfort and strength in God to face the road ahead.
Sister of CPL Gary Walters
KIA in Baghdad on 24 April 2005″
“Thank you Donald Hasse, you will not be forgotten. Your bravery goes beyond words. I want to express my deepest gratitude for your sacrifice. To the family and friends, my prayers and deep condolences in your loss. May God strengthen you from knowing that fellow Americans and people around the world care about you and grieve with you in your loss. God bless you all. A very appreciative fellow American,”
Leo Titus of Grayslake, Illinios
“To the family and friends of Sgt. Donald Hasse:
May God’s grace be with you during your time of grief. Please know that our thoughts and prayers are with you and we feel your loss and share in your sorrow. Bless Donald for the sacrifice he has made to make a better life for the rest of us.”
The Ford Family of Wells, Nevada
“To the family and friends of Sgt. Donald Hasse:
I am saddened by the loss of your loved one. He will always be remembered as a hero for fighting for freedom. I hope that this website will be a source of comfort and encouragement for you during this difficult time, and in the future as you recall the memories of Donald, who continues to live on in your heart.”
Tim Rivera of Powder Springs, Georgia