Oil City soldier among those killed in Fort Drum helicopter crash
By MICHAEL MOLITORIS


SHAWN ALAN MAYERSCIK, A 1999 OIL CITY HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATE, HAD A DEEP LOVE FOR THE ARMY SINCE HE WAS 15, HIS MOTHER SAID.

An Oil City man was among 11 soldiers killed when a Black Hawk helicopter crashed during an Army training exercise in a remote, wooded area of Fort Drum in northern New York, the military confirmed Wednesday.

Two other men survived but were badly hurt in the crash on Tuesday afternoon.

The local solider was Shawn Alan Mayerscik, a 22-year-old private first class from 17 Oakwood Drive. He and the other men aboard the helicopter were active members of the Army's 10th Mountain Division.

One of the others killed in the crash was also a Pennsylvanian. He was identified as Sgt. John L. Eichenlaub Jr., 24, of South Williamsport.

Shawn had a deep love for the Army from the time he was 15, his mother, Kathy, said Wednesday. But shortly before midnight Tuesday, she learned the son of whom she was so proud had been killed when she saw headlights shine up the family's Oliver Manor driveway.

"I've always known that if the car pulls in your driveway and an Army man gets out, your son is dead," Kathy said.

Mayerscik joined the Army through the deferred enlistment program while he was still in high school.

"He wanted to join the Army from the time he was 15," said Kathy Mayerscik. "He got interested by reading military books and got very caught up in it. ... He wanted very much to be an Army Ranger with the Special Forces. And he achieved that goal."

Mayerscik graduated in the spring of 2000 from the Army 75th Regiment's Ranger Indoctrination Program at Fort Benning, Ga.

The decorated Mayerscik served last year in Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. There, he helped rescue the crew of a downed Black Hawk helicopter.

Kathy noted her son's favorite movie was "Black Hawk Down."

"It just somehow seems appropriate," the exhausted woman said Wednesday night.

Next to Shawn's 1999 senior photo from Oil City High School was a quote that reads, "A coward dies a thousand deaths, a soldier dies but once."

Recently, Shawn thought he would have to go to Iraq, but to the relief of his family that didn't end up happening.

"His battalion didn't go because of the Turkey issue, and we were very relieved over that," Kathy said. "Shawn was disappointed because he was ready to go."

The close family members - including her husband, Steve, and their daughter, Stacey - were in constant contact via telephone with Shawn from the time he enlisted in the Army. Each day the Oil City man wasn't deployed he would telephone his family, Kathy said.

The last time Kathy spoke with her son was around 6 p.m. Monday.

"He said he had a good day and that he was going to do his exercises," Kathy said. Later, he probably would go to the library and log onto the Internet.

"I asked him what he was going to do on Tuesday, and he didn't know - which was a frequent response," Kathy said.