Joseph D. Logan of Willis played many roles in his short 22 years on this earth. He was a husband, a son, a brother, a friend, and a Corporal in the United States Marine Corps where he made the ultimate sacrifice.
Cpl. Logan was one of six marines who died on January 19, 2012 when their Vietnam era CH-53D Sea Stallion heavy-lift helicopter crashed while supporting combat operations in the Helmand province of Afghanistan. The tragedy occurred just hours after “Joey” Logan spoke to his father, Tom Logan over the phone. Joey was scheduled to wrap up his last deployment and return home on April Fool’s Day. It was also supposed to be the last mission for the aircraft that was older than its crew. Joey told his father he planned to reenlist and remain as a career Marine working in Aviation Maintenance. With Joey halfway around the world and Tom at the family home in Willis that fateful day, the pair discussed plans for a trout fishing trip to the White River in Arkansas.
Fishing was a special part of the close bond between the father and son. Tom Logan says during Joey’s senior year in high school, after he enlisted, a freak accident occurred that jeopardized his dream. Joey fell on a piece of glass and severed all the tendons in one hand. Surgery reattached them, but Joey had no feeling in his hand and for a while was unsure if he would ever be a Marine.
Tom Logan and his wife Debi both retired from the Houston Police Department around the time Joey graduated, and Tom loved to fish. When Joey could not feel his hand, Tom Logan seemed to intuitively know the answer was putting a fly fishing rod in it. Shortly after Joey graduated from high school in 2008, his dad took him on a fishing trip that lasted all summer, through the Rocky Mountains including Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, and Colorado. They even fished in British Columbia.
They were headed home, traveling through Wyoming during the start of antelope season. Joey wanted so badly to stay and hunt antelope, his dad says Joey tried to talk him into buying guns there and staying a while. But Tom Logan insisted they go home. The homecoming was short-lived, however. No sooner did they return to Willis than they loaded up their guns and headed back to Wyoming to hunt antelope.
During their travels that summer, Tom and Joey Logan visited historical landmarks and monuments, including Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Monument. Tom believes the Mount Rushmore visit may have been what inspired his son to go into aviation. They took a long helicopter ride in the area, where they saw the sights, herded buffalo and felt the freedom that only comes from flying. Joey Logan was so impacted by the experience, he hung onto the ticket, which his dad now has. Tom Logan says his son’s test scores were so high, he could have chosen any specialized area, but his heart was in aviation.
Joey Logan had finished a tour in Afghanistan, returned home to Willis and married his sweetheart, Melissa Rushing. He then returned to Afghanistan for his second and final tour, with the same crew as his original tour. The squadron, known as the “Lucky Red Lions” is based in Kanoehe Bay, Hawaii. The others lost in the crash were Capt. Daniel B. Bartle, 27, of Ferndale, Washington; Capt. Nathan R. McHone, 29, of Crystal Lake, Illinois; MSgt. Travis W. Riddick, 40, of Centerville, Iowa; Cpl. Jesse W. Stites, 23, of North Beach, Maryland; and Cpl. Kevin J. Reinhard, 25, of Colonia, New Jersey.
The Lucky Red Lions were part of Joey Logan’s Marine family and shared his commitment to the service and his country, but members of his biological family are also serving in the military. His sister, Andrea, is a year younger but also managed to graduate in 2008 by taking accelerated classes. Andrea Logan followed in her brother’s footsteps by becoming a Marine and is currently in Tech School on the east coast. His oldest brother, Thomas “Tommy,” is in the U.S. Navy. Joey had another brother, Robert Logan, and another sister, Tricia Nickel.
Joey Logan was a decorated Marine, having earned an Air Medal, Navy Unit Commendation, Meritorious Unit Commendation, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and NATO ISAF Medal.
Having served in the Middle East and laid the groundwork for his career and his future, Joey Logan was ready to come home. He was ready to be with his wife and his family and to fish with his dad again. Their plans were set and he was to return to Texas in two months. About 2 p.m., January 19, 2012 Joey Logan was talking with his dad about his homecoming, and they both were excited.
Tom Logan had no way of knowing that eight short hours later, his world would be forever changed because the son he affectionately called “GI Joey” would no longer be part of it.
Around 10 p.m., Tom Logan was in bed and Debi Logan was in the kitchen. She heard a knock at the door and when she looked out, she saw two Marines. Debi Logan went to get her husband. Despite also having a daughter in the Marine Corps, Tom Logan says at that moment he somehow knew it was his son. His feeling and their worst fears were quickly confirmed as the marines told the couple Joey’s helicopter crashed with no warning in a mountainous area of Afghanistan, leaving no survivors. According to NATO officials, there were no signs of enemy activity in the area.
During the time of Tom and Joey’s last trip, Joey had expressed interest in buying property in Montana during a telephone conversation.
Tom Logan has now moved forward with his wife Debbi and purchased some land in Joey’s memory.
They are calling it the Red Lion Project, in memory of Joey Logan’s unit.
The property is 164 acres completely surrounded by 3,150 square miles of National Forest. The land is located in Mineral County, Montana about 8 miles from the small town of Superior which provides stores for supplies that one might need. For more of your essential needs the city of Missoula is located approximately 60 miles east on interstate 90. The major airport is also in the city of Missoula.
The Clark Fork River is located only three miles from the property, as well as hundreds of mountain streams and lakes for fishing and canoeing adventures. Additionally, there is an abundance of wildlife including Elk, Deer, Moose ,Big Horn Sheep, Mountain Goat, Wolves and Bears.
Tom and his wife and several returning veterans are currently working on building the first of six cabins. One cabin in memory of each of the fallen heroes that were killed that night in the crash. The cabins will be for use of returning soldiers and their families, as a place to heal, reconnect and ease the stresses of returning home.
They worked almost all of last summer preparing the land. This is not a standard construction project needs can be met at the local Home Depot- the project is being completed in the way things were before lumber yards existed.
Using rock and mortar, the foundation of the first cabin is down and they have started cutting, notching and placing the logs in position.
Once the six cabins have been completed, they plan to build a main gathering cabin and a smaller cabin down on the back of the property along the creek.
To help finish the project, additional funds are needed. A large fund raiser is planned at Sam Houston State in October. Those details are currently being organized.
A website has been set up : RED LION PROJECT WEBSITE-CLICK HERE
A Facebook page has been established and is being updated daily for the activities and progress at the Red Lion Camp.
BELOW ARE A FEW PHOTOS FROM THE PROJECT-VISIT THEIR FACEBOOK PAGE FOR HUNDREDS MORE
JOEY LOGAN’S FATHER TOM
TWO HEROS DONATING THEIR TIME HELPING WITH THE PROJECT THIS SUMMER