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thedrifter
05-24-08, 12:52 PM
IHSA, Quinn to honor state champ, Iraq War casuality

By JG/T-C Staff
sports@jg-tc.com

CHARLESTON -- Before the starting gun sounds on the Illinois High School Association State Track and Field today, athletes, students and coaches will pause to honor one of their own – a state champion runner who later became the first Illinois soldier to give the ultimate sacrifice in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“Capt. Ryan Beaupre was a patriot who embodied the Marine Corps values of honor, courage and commitment,” said Lt. Governor Pat Quinn about Saturday’s IHSA memorial tribute at O’Brien Stadium in Charleston. “People looked up to him whether he was leading his relay team to a state title or leading his comrades into battle. He was a hero in the best sense of the word.”

A 30-year-old U.S. Marine Corps captain from St. Anne, Beaupre died March 21, 2003, when the helicopter he was piloting crashed along the Kuwait-Iraq border. Three other U.S. Marines and eight British Marines also died in the crash, the first soldiers to give the ultimate sacrifice as the Iraq War began.

Beaupre was an Illinois State Scholar at Bishop McNamara High School in Kankakee and a two-time all-state track athlete. He led his 1,600-meter relay team to a state title before moving on to run at Illinois Wesleyan University where he was on the Dean’s List and a recipient of the Growmark Outstanding Accounting Major Award.

Beaupre worked as an accountant for State Farm Insurance in Bloomington for a year, but his dream of being a pilot inspired him to join the Marines. He joined in 1995 and soon earned the nickname “Swoop” because every time there was a chance to fly, he would swoop down to get it. He earned his wings in 1999.

Quinn will join with the Beaupre family including Ryan’s parents, Mark and Nicky, as well as Beaupre’s track coach Ken Klipp to honor the life and memory of an IHSA athlete who made all those who had the honor of knowing him proud.

“We are pleased to work with Lt. Governor Pat Quinn to recognize Ryan Beaupre and all the IHSA student-athletes who have gone on to serve our country,” said IHSA Executive Director Marty Hickman. “We are proud of the young men and women who have made so many sacrifices to protect our freedom.”

For information about how to help military families this Memorial Day weekend, please visit: OperationHomeFront.org.

Ellie