Funeral services held for SSgt. Patrick Pentico
|The pallbearers from the United States Air Force bring Staff Sgt. Patrick Ryan Pentico to his final resting place in Green River.|
Hundreds of friends, family and military personnel gathered to say farewell to Tico on Thursday. Staff Sgt. Patrick Ryan Pentico was killed in Albania on March 31 when his aircraft went down on a training mission.
Funeral services were held in Hanksville and burial with full military honors by the United States Air Force in the Elgin Cemetery in Green River.
Second Lt. Bruce Osborn spoke to the audience. He said in military circles and by Tico he was affectionately known as Ozzie Osborn. "Tico was an exceptional person. I was his instructor and he often spoke of being the only member of the Hanksville National Guard. Tico had a great love for his family and all of his aunts and uncles. He loved his wife Melissa. On the day before his wedding I asked him if he was sure about getting married and he looked me straight in the eye and said he loved her with all of his heart.
"After Tico had been flying for awhile, he dropped the boats without the men in them. As soon as he landed he called me and said, 'Dude, I screwed up, Ozzie I'm sorry, but I let you down and I let the crew down, I'll make it up to you.' That's the kind of man he was, he didn't want his instructor to look bad and he didn't want anyone else taking his blame.
"I have a letter he wrote his parents in December of 1998 while he was serving in the Mid-East. He wrote, 'I would like to write and say what fine parents I have. I wouldn't trade you for all the mutton in Wayne County,' quoted Lt. Osborn.
Tico went on to say in his letter that he had traveled through Italy, saw where Gen. Patton had stood, been to Pearl Harbor and the Orient. He'd seen Motley Crue three times and even been to Graceland and he owed it all to his great parents. He said he'd always tried to be a good person and he had lived a full rich life and if God forbid anything should happen to him, he'd had a good life. "I want you to know that it means more than just a name on a plaque somewhere, serving my country has been a great experience for me and one I'll remember forever," quoted Lt. Osborn. Tico went on to wish his parents Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and cheered Go, Cowboys.
|The military honor guard folds the flag for presentation to SSgt. Pentico's wife, Melissa, at the Elgin Cemetery. |
"I will always carry Tico with me. I could never be as good a friend for Tico as he was for me. "Dude, we're going to miss you," said Lt. Osborn.
TSgt. Bill Kowalski said he met Tico at loadmasters school in Little Rock, Ark. "Tico welcomed everyone he met into his life. He gave more than he received. Tico loved Hanksville and I learned all about it from him. He loved John Wayne, McDonalds and Starbucks. After Tico graduated he went back to Dyess Air Force Base and I met him on the beach there one day and he treated me the same as if I'd seen him yesterday. Friendship and love was always in Tico's heart.
"One time I asked Tico for a favor, I was having some problems and asked if I could come and stay with him and Melissa for awhile. He immediately said, 'No problem.' He took me in and shared his life. He was more than a friend, he was a brother. There was no doubt he cared for me and my daughter. I loved Tico like a brother and he will always be with me and his family and friends. He was a hero in my eyes," said TSgt. Kowalski.
Carla Hunt Jones, family friend, told of Tico's early life and childhood in Hanksville. "People always looked out for Tico," she said. Tico had a great love for his uncles and Uncle Randy started Tico's love and enthusiasm for motorcycles at age 3. Tico's parents divorced while he was very young. Susie, Tico's mother married Kevin Hatch and Tico gained more family with the Hatch/Ekker families. Kevin, Tico's stepfather became another father to Patrick and they had years of fun and love together. "He never was a pain in the butt," Kevin told Jones. There were only a few times when he became mad at Patrick and that was when Patrick loaded, Kevin's cigarettes and they would blow up when Kevin tried to smoke them. Patrick was a state wrestling champion and he attended Wayne High School. Patrick entered the Air Force in Dec.-1996. Patrick married Melissa in May-2000 and he gained more family with Melissa's parents and four brothers. "Tico and Melissa had one adventure after another and they were always laughing, they never fought," said Jones. They attended plays in London and explored castles in Scotland as they enjoyed their military careers. Life was good for them. Tico was a good husband and very thoughtful. Their fifth anniversary is in May and Tico already had a gift picked out which he sent to his parents house in Hanksville for safekeeping. Tico treated Melissa with respect," said Jones. "Tico had a wealth of family and friends and Susie his mother was his rock, she was always solid and dependable. She worked two jobs to make sure Patrick had what he needed. Susie loved Patrick the boy and the man he became. I have such respect for you as a friend and a mother, Susie. Everyone loved Tico, but no one loved him like his mother," said Jones.
A song from Tico's Elvis collection was played entitled, "Somebody bigger than you and I." Tico was a huge Elvis fan and often said, "Always beware of a man who doesn't like Elvis."
Major Tony Bukata said he too had heard much about Hanksville and Tico's family and friends. Major Bukata said he has faith that they will one day see Tico again. He first met Tico at Dyess where they wanted to be on a crew together. Once on a stateside mission flying to Arizona from California they had to fly over a small part of southern Utah so decided to flyby Hanksville and wave to Tico's mom Susie. They flew as if on a training mission headed for a drop zone. The white cone outside of town at the airport helped guide them. Tico was excited and said, 'There's the school, there's the BLM office, there's my Mom waving." The plane circled three times and by the third time they went over, all the homes, businesses and the school had emptied out and everyone was outside waving at Tico and Susie was jumping up and down. Major Bukata knew they were in big trouble now because of all the witnesses. Although he swears he will deny the incident to superiors if he has to.
|SSgt. Patrick Pentico.|
Major Bukata said he gained a brother in Tico. He told of Tico's own brand of speech. Things were sweet or choice. You were always a dude to Tico. A bad situation was "to choke," a negative response from Tico was "not so much," Tico, do you want to do this? "not so much," Tico would say.
"Tico had a passion for life. He was laid back without being lazy. He had a sense of humor without losing his professionalism. He loved peanut M & Ms. He enjoyed his job and appreciated all he had gained from it. He loved his family and was proud of Hanksville. Nothing made him light up like his Melissa, she was his soul mate. He always said, Melissa and I, Mo and I, Mama and I, his love for Melissa was total and unconditional. Melissa said that Tico brought color to her gray world.
"What we once have, we will never lose. What we had once, becomes a part of us. Tico can still make us smile," said Major Bukata.
Bishop George Peterson said Tico is still the kind loving person he always was and he will wait to greet us on the other side. Another friend read a poem which spoke of the Savior and the comfort he will bring. He will send a messenger to slip in and take the empty chair and slip his hand into yours. "You will be reunited in due time and place," he said.
The military pall bearers carried the casket of SSgt. Pentico to the hearse for travel to Green River, his final resting place. The scouts from Green River lined the road to the cemetery with flags and held flags as the hearse and cars entered the cemetery. A 21-gun salute was given and an aircraft flew over at precisely 4 p.m. in Patrick's honor. His grave was dedicated by Steven Hatch. Melissa Pentico was presented with Patrick's meritorious achievement awards and the flag which draped his casket.