Jeffrey Leonard Spara
Commanding Officer 1st Battalion 22nd Infantry
10th Mountain Division
May 3, 1989 - May 21, 1991
Cadet Company: A4
Date of Birth: June 22, 1947
Date of Death: April 30, 2009
COL Jeffrey Leonard Spara's eulogy given at his impressive memorial service at Ft. Myer noted that his was a life well lived.
Indeed it was. Jeff and the former Marie Auclair, his wife for almost 38 years, were devout Catholics who raised a beautiful family
while Jeff pursued a distinguished career as a professional soldier.
Jeff was born near Buffalo, NY, on Jun 22, 1947, to Leonard and Patricia Spara. He graduated from St. Francis High School,
Athol Springs, NY, in 1965, at the height of the Vietnam War, and promptly enlisted in the Army, serving in the 82nd Airborne Division
and the Special Operations Center, Pacific Command. The Army recognized his leadership potential and sent Jeff to the
U.S. Military Academy Prep School, then at Ft. Belvoir, VA. While there, he met Marie, the love of his life,
a nurse at Georgetown University Hospital.
Jeff reported to West Point in 1968 and distinguished himself while a cadet in Company A-4. His classmates have described Jeff
as respected by all, ethical, hardworking, and steady. He was a scrappy boxer in the ring. As noted in the Howitzer, Jeff
applied himself in all endeavors of cadet life and never forgot his goals. Prophetically, our yearbook stated that
Jeffs feelings toward duty, God and country should serve to make him an excellent officer. Jeff graduated in 1972
and was commissioned a second lieutenant of Infantry. Jeff and Marie married on June 10 th, just days after his graduation
at West Point. As the Howitzer predicted, he then went on to become an excellent offcer.
Following graduation, Jeff served in Alaska as an airborne rifle and reconnaissance platoon leader in the 4th Battalion,
9th Arctic Light Infantry and as platoon leader of an Air Cavalry platoon in E Troop, 1st Air Cavalry. He became a
company commander, battalion operations officer, and a division trainer in 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry, 101st Airborne
Division (Air Assault). Following graduation from the Command & General Staff College, Jeff was assigned to the
10th Mountain Division, serving as the 1st Brigade operations offcer; 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry executive offcer;
and commander of the 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry. His other assignments included company and regimental tactical
officer, U.S. Corps of Cadets, West Point; commander of the Syracuse Recruiting Battalion; NATO Staff Offcer,
International Military Staff; brigade commander, 1st Recruiting Brigade; and Chief, Enlisted Accession Division,
Army G-1. His training included Airborne, Ranger, Pathfinder, Jumpmaster, Air Assault, Arctic Summer & Winter,
and Jungle Operations, while his education included a Master of Public Administration degree from the John F. Kennedy
School of Government, Harvard University, and a Master of Military Art and Science degree from the Army Officer
Studies Fellowship (School for Advance Military Studies).
Jeff retired from the Army as a colonel in 2002 after 37 years of service and was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal.
In November 2005, he returned to the Army G-1 as the Chief, Enlisted Accession Division.
In 2007, Jeff was diagnosed with cancer (abdominal lymphoma). His positive attitude and faith inspired all who came into
contact with him. Never complaining, always thinking of others, Jeff bravely battled the cancer while he could and then
accepted his imminent death with grace and dignity. He came home to die in hospice care with his loving family and friends.
Besides Marie, Jeff left behind three wonderful children of whom he was very proud: Christopher, a business executive;
Katherine (Gaulke), an Air Force officer; and Michael, a teacher; two beautiful grandchildren, his parents, three brothers:
Leonard, David, and Paul and their families. All loved Jeff dearly and will carry Jeff's spirit in love, laughter and tears.
Jeff was buried with the full military honors accorded to an Infantry colonel at Arlington National Cemetery.
Former vice chief of staff General John Keane gave a powerful eulogy to a packed chapel of family,
dignitaries, classmates, friends, fellow soldiers, and neighbors. Both in Jeffs life and death, it could be said
well done. Be thou at peace.
Thomas Folk, classmate & family
Above memorial and photo of Jeff Spara as a cadet at the US Military Academy from the West Point Association of Graduates website
Jeffrey Leonard Spara
Colonel, Infantry, U.S. Army Retired. Class of 1972, United States Military Academy
When I got the word that Jeff Spara had died, I knew Id write something to honor him. I didnt know his family and funeral home
would have blogspots waiting for words about him. All the better, then. More places to speak about a man worthy of praise.
Yet, at that moment I drew an absolute blank on how to tell a story about Jeff Spara that was equal to the man.
Jeff added a depth and breadth that made my words inadquate. A word like infantryman missed the color, texture, and emotional slap -
that the word held for anyone who actually knew an infantryman and knew Jeff Spara.
You had to know Jeff to know how the words changed their meaning. How they came alive. How they gained meaning.
How they grabbed you and lived in you because of Jeffrey Spara.
I knew Jeff for almost 41 years. I look forward to spending eternity near him when the time comes.
Jeff was one of the oldest guys in the Class of 1972. He had served a tour in the 82nd Airborne before Prep School. He made
Sergeant E-5. I called him by the nickname Sparatrooper. Jeff remembered every leadership lesson learned as a young enlisted soldier
and lived them until his dying day. From our class of 822, I count myself as honored to associate with many good men.
Yet, with Jeff its the honor of being a friend, classmate, comrade in arms of a great man. Great in what counts the most.
Sunday, at his visitation, I told his grown children that their Dad was a great man. I encouraged them to talk to their children
through all of their lives so they will know the grandfather they cant recall or never met. He will live with them here,
even though he is quite alive in another place Heaven.
I visited Jeff in November 2007 when he was recovering from one of many treatments for the cancer that took his body to the grave
but never claimed that living, immortal spirit saved by Grace. We had a private moment before I left where I asked him to let me
pray with him. When we were done, I said, Jeff, there is nothing unsaid. If you or I go tomorrow, there is nothing not said.
You know how I feel and I you. He smiled his impish grin and nodded affirmative.
Jeff Spara made a better joke in a few words, an arched eyebrow, a shrug and a grin than most stand up comedians do
in their entire routine. Id seen his laugh many times before.
We spent 4 years in the isolation of the total institution that was West Point at the end of the Vietnam War and before girls.
Guys in the same regiment knew one another after 4 years of 24/7 together. Jeffs perspective from the real Army was a wash
of realism to a surreal long incubation for officerhood.
Then, there was Infantry Officer Basic and I cant recall, exactly, the other crossing of paths because they are blurred
with so many moments of classmate recognition at a training area or another school. Until we get to the one year overlap
at grad school. Jeff, Marie and babies came by in the late Spring 1980 for breakfast while they were looking for a place to live.
That breaking of bread was followed by many cups of coffee at the JFK School of Government at Harvard. And three years
on the faculty at West Point where we crossed paths most often at the gym. Our wives and children entwined their lives
through that posting. We saw Jeffs devotion, easily understood, to the most gentle, loving, supportive soul that is Marie.
And his great joy and love for his children. We became CHRISTmas card correspondents. And at Class Reunions, furtive-
Which grants me the right to say with authority these words that only have their unique meaning in context
if you have known, experienced, Jeff Spara.
Solid. The way Jeff was as
a cadet when others were still growing up. Maybe all of his life
ask his parents.
Certainly in all the days to follow West Point. Working until a week before he died.
Straight arrow. The man who designed the straight arrow.
Leader. In his presence not as a tall man but a man of magnitude in character.
Soldier. Always pulling his weight. Always asking nothing he hadnt done or wouldnt do. Always and forever a soldier.
Serving as much in retirement as on active duty maybe more.
Officer. Dedicated to what is important beyond self, career, or situation for what is right and best for the United States Army.
Loyal to the harder right above all.
Patriot. In every breath. Reflexively and innately, naturally but passionately serving the United States of America. Loving his country.
Friend. Trusted, trusted, trusted. Light-hearted at ease. Stout and stalwart in need.
Father and Husband. The best men can be.
Faith. Devout Christian, observant Roman Catholic, confident in the truth of Jesus that sets us free. Believer by faith,
who lived through his walk and works, real faith. Alive today absent the body and instantly in the presence of the Lord Jesus
in a real place called Heaven.
Jeff Spara Well done.
James Atticus Bowden | May 5, 2009
from the website Deo Vindice
To see monographs written by LTC Spara go to the Combined Arms Research Library
from the US Military Academy site:
Cadet Company: A4
Date of Birth: June 22, 1947
Date of Death: April 30, 2009
Col. JEFFREY LEONARD SPARA U.S.
ARMY (Ret.) On Thursday, April 30, 2009, of Gambrills, MD,
beloved husband of Marie (nee Auclair) Spara; loving father of Christopher Spara and his wife, Ellen and Katherine Gaulke
and her husband, Gary and Michael Spara; devoted son of Leonard and Patricia Spara; dear brother of Leonard, David
and Paul Spara; loving grandfather of Maggie Spara and Giselle Gaulke. Family will receive friends at the family owned
BEALL FUNERAL HOME, 6512 NW Crain Hwy, (Rte. 3 South), Bowie, MD on Sunday, May 3, 2009 from 2 to 4
and 7 to 9 p.m. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at Our Lady of the Fields Catholic Church, 1070 Cecil Ave.,
Millersville, MD on Monday, May 4, 2009 at 11 a.m. Interment Arlington Nat''l Cemetery on Thursday, August 13, 2009
at 10:45 a.m. Please arrive at Ft. Myer Chapel at 10:15 a.m. If desired contributions may be made to Our Daily Bread,
www.cc-md-org or Carmelite Monastery at carmelitemonks.org. Please view and sign the family''s guestbook at:
Jeffrey L. Spara is buried in Arlington National Cemetery
Section 64 Grave 4859
Grave marker for Jeffrey L. Spara
Photo from the Arlington National Cemetery website
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