Army Master Sgt. Robert M. Horrigan

40, of Austin, Texas; assigned to Headquarters, U.S. Army Special Operations Command, Fort Bragg, N.C.; killed June 17 while conducting combat operations in Qaim, Iraq. Robert was born in Limestone, Maine.

To honor MSG Robert M. Horrigan, his mother, Mary Alice Horrigan retrieved this stone from a stone wall near a 90 year-old apple tree in an apple orchard in Belfast, Maine. The apple tree was planted by Mary Alice’s grandparents in 1921, and Mary Alice climbed this same tree as a girl and recently made the best apple pie from its fruit.   IMG_0662

Robert’s mother. Ms. Mary Horrigan writes about her son, his character and service.  She describes the stone she selected and how she learned about The Summit Project —

“I saw the stones in Portland at the Armory at the Maine Marathon, and hoped I was not too late. I picked a stone from the orchard that my grandpa planted, and in which  my kids used to climb the apple trees,  when we lived on a farm in Belfast.  Bob was born in the County when we were stationed at Loring. Jan. 13, 1965.  Second of a set of twins.  He entered the army after hi school, was a Ranger, then Special Forces.  Eventually he joined Delta.  He is mentioned in Gen. Blaber’s book, The Men, The Mission and Me, and in Sean Naylor’s book, Not a Good Day to Die, about the hunt for Bin Laden at Tora Bora.  Served several tours in Afganistan and Iraq.  Had about a week to go in Iraq and then home and retirement after serving 20 years.  Volunteered for that last mission and led a midnight raid to the home of an insurgent who had been tipped off they were coming.  He was first in the door. He and the man behind him, also a twin, were shot and killed there.  He had emailed me that am, and spoke about his plans for retirement. Left a widow, and a little girl.  Died June 17,05.  If you met him, he would seem so ordinary—no big shot, nobody special–yet he was awarded some very distinguished medals and was highly regarded by his men.  If he gave his word, you knew you could count on it.  Thank you for being interested, and in doing what you are doing.  Mary Horrigan”

Watch this video to learn why this stone is significant and what it says about MSG Robert M. Horrigan.

 

10 thoughts on “Army Master Sgt. Robert M. Horrigan

  1. What a powerful story Mary Alice! Your son was a brave and honorable man, and our state and our nation owe Him and your family a debt of gratitude for his selfless sacrifice. May God keep you. GSM Godmother, Nancy White ( Aunt of CPT J. Jay Brainard, KIA 5/28/2012)

  2. Mrs. Horrigan, my name is Kim Hamlyn. I am a member of The Patriot Riders of America Maine Chapter One, we are having a Spring Ride for the Troops and it will be my honor and privilege to carry your sons memory and stone on this ride. Your son was a true hero and role model. It is with deep sorrow and pride to honor him in such a wonderful way. I want to thank you for the ultimate sacrifice the loss of your son. My son served in Afghanistan and it was the toughest 10 months I have ever spent. I not only carry this stone for your sons memory but for all those who have served and are still serving. My husband Peter and I will be part of the Summit Project and I hope I have the opportunity to meet you and learn more about your son. God bless you and your family.

  3. Hi Mary,
    It was an honor to meet you during the hike. I had the honor of carrying your son’s stone to the summit, and placed it at the top along with the other stones. We observed a moment of silence and spoke about each of the soldiers – this was very emotional for me, as over the past few months, I have learned quite a bit about your son – I feel like I really know him. I’ve learned that he was a quiet humble man, that would never stop and never quit, and those are the feelings I had with me at the summit – his perserverance and love of his country. The sacrifice your son made was the ultimate sacrifice, but its important to know that the memory of your son is not forgotten, it will live on with me forever -and so will the moment that I presented the stone to you. It was an emotional touching moment that I will not soon forget.

    I can never understand what it feels like to lose a son defending our liberty, but I can make sure his sacrifice is worth it. I will have your son in my thoughts every time I live life to the fullest, remembering that I have these opportunities because of sacrifices like this. Thank you for raising an honorable and respectable citizen, who took the oath to defend our country.

    Manny Manno, TSP Hiker, Memorial Day 2014

  4. My youngest brother Mark McAfee was very proud to carry that precious stone across the finish line yesterday at the Trek Across Maine …what a brave son you have Mrs. Horrigan, I am proud of the true American soldier you raised….God Bless you

  5. Tony Barrett — Finishing cyclist of the 2014 Trek Across Maine wrote —

    I wanted to remember Bob (Army Master Sgt. Robert M. Horrigan) because he is an older casualty (would be 50 years old if still alive today) and I am older. He died on June 17 (Father’s Day weekend in 2005) on his last mission in Iraq before his retirement from the Army. The memorial stone that I carried was selected by his Mom from a family orchard in Belfast. I brought the stone back to Belfast on Sunday as part of 2014 Trek Across Maine.

    A photo and short description was mounted on the back of my bicycle. I am not a fast rider and while being passed by many of the 2,600 bicyclists (or ‘trekkers’ as they are called), they could see the photo. Also, when my bike was parked or at rest stops, people would stop and look at the photo. I would guess that about 50 people asked me about the photo which provided me an opportunity to tell Bob’s story – that he was a father killed on Father’s Dayweekend – that he was on his last mission & about to retire – and that the stone being carried with his inscription was from an orchard in Belfast. Many of those people with whom I spoke were touched by the story and thanked me for carrying the stone. Two bicyclists asked if they could carry the stone in their back jersey pocket (they didn’t have a rack or bag) –

    to which I agreed. However, they only made this request after long, uphill climbs (so they could have the downhill with the stone ). American Lung Association staffer, Katie O’Neill, sought me out at Colby College and asked for her photo to be taken with the stone. Katie had written a press release about the Summit Project and Maine Memorial for fallen soldiers, in which Bob’s name was mentioned. She also inserted into the evening program mention of the Summit Project and the names of the three soldiers being remembered.

    Carrying the stone certainly made me more aware of the sacrifice by young men & women from Maine. Several people that I talked to were vets themselves, were still working in the children with the Maine 133rd. The current circumstances in Iraq make Bob’s loss even more poignant. At the finish line, there was a signature board for all riders to sign their names to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the Trek. Bob’s name is on the top center of the board.

    Tony Barrett Harpswell, ME June 17, 2014

  6. Dear family and friends of veteran,

    The Summit Project is one of the greatest experiences I have had in my high school career so far. With learning about war and literature in my English class and then being able to learn about our fallen soldiers in Maine, I was able to get the full picture of war in our lives today. We have read and watched many things about war and how it has affected people’s lives, and now that we are able to involve ourselves in this program, it made the unit even more interesting to learn.
    Reading about Robert Horrigan made realize the prices and tragedies of war. Horrigan served 7 tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. What saddened me the most was that he died a week before was done his last tour. He was a father, a husband, a son, and a twin brother. Being so committed to the army, Horrigan was a very honorable soldier. He joined the army right after high school and continued on until he was forty. He was looked to being such an ordinary guy, but in truth he was so smart, wise, and brave. He was so brave that he was the first one to walk through the door before he was killed in Iraq, June 17, 2005.
    While I was carrying his rock up the mountain, I was thinking about his commitment and bravery to the army. His rock came from a stone wall near an apple tree that his mother used to play in when she was little. The stone was small yet had so much meaning. I am proud to be a part of the Summit Project. I will gladly join in again another day.
    Sincerely,
    Mariah

  7. Dear Loved Ones,

    I came into the summit project through my high school, Edward Little. As I researched Robert M. Horrigan I was overcome with admiration. He lived his life staying true to himself and to others. He was a natural born leader. The fact that he went from Rangers, to special forces, to delta force at such a young age is awe inspiring. It in fact inspired me to consider joining the Marines. From what his mother posted on the Summit website he was very modest, and that is something that is very hard to come by.

    As I carried his rock up Bradbury I kept on thinking about the uphill battle he went through, or all soldiers go through in war. I became so overwhelmed that I ran up Bradbury the whole way not stopping except for a few times to let the others catch up. I felt that if he had to give 110% the whole time then so should I. I imagined he had to run a lot so I thought I could connect a little better if I experienced some kind of physical exertion.

    I give you my condolences on the loss of him, whether he is your brother, father, son, nephew, or grandson. I know what it is like to lose family. I felt honored to be chosen to carry his memory. I wish I could have met him. He seemed to be kind of a mans man and a good friend. He was honest and almost never lied, which is very admirable since it is human nature to lie. I respect that a lot. I am positive that he is in a better place and the he wouldn’t want you all to be sad, but joyful for he has found his peace.

    Respectfully,

    Nathaniel E. Prescott
    Auburn, Maine.

  8. on DEC 27, 2014, Erina White wrote:

    To the Horrigan Family,

    I was deeply honored to carry MSG Robert Horrigan’s memory sake up Borestone Mountain in Piscataquis County, Maine. My sisters and I have a family tradition of hiking Borestone on Christmas day. This year we all made the treck with memories of some of Maine’s finest heroes.

    It was a beautiful winter day. It had been raining for days and the sun broke through the clouds as we started the hike. I couldn’t help but feel Robert’s presence: his courage, connection with the outdoors, quiet strength, leadership, and kindness. It seems that all that knew him loved him.

    I felt his never-quit leadership as my sneakers filled with cold water and the wind chill temps dipped well into the single digits. And I felt his joyful spirit when I hoisted his stone high into the sun-setting sky.

    As a mom (of a young daughter), wife, sister and fellow Mainer, I can’t help but mourn his loss on a deeply personal level.

    What a gift he was to all of us.
    Thank you for sharing Robert’s story and stone.

    — and thank you for your sacrifice.

    Erina White

  9. To the friends and family of MSG Robert M. Horrigan,

    My name is Morgan Anderson, and I was honored to carry MSG Robert M. Horrigan’s stone and memory in a New Year’s Day hike of Mt. Monroe in New Hampshire. There were only two of us hiking, myself and Ted Coffin. We both carried the stone of a fallen soldier from Aroostook County. It is typical of a TSP hike to have a circle ceremony at the summit to share stories of what we have learned about the soldier we were honoring. With this small group on New Year’s Day, that circle ceremony seemed to stretch out over the duration of our hike. Ted and I shared stories about MSG Horrigan and SFC Henderson – about the soldiers and about what we connected with in their story. MSG Horrigan would have been my father’s age today, and he came from an area that I hold very near and dear. He volunteered for his final mission, one week from coming home and retiring. He put his life on the line for his country through a twenty year career, and was just as dedicated to his service in his last week as he was on day one. He is a shining example of the humble, quiet, capable, dedicated people of Maine.

    Ted and I never reached the summit on New Year’s Day. At Lake of the Clouds Hut, the wind conditions and visibility towards the summit kept us from continuing on. We placed the stones of MSG Horrigan and SFC Henderson on the trail sign for a photo and were only able to get one before the temperature shut down our camera. We then began our descent, and just like on the hike up the mountain – we continued to talk about the fallen soldiers who’s stones we carried in our packs. I cannot think of a better way to celebrate the start of 2015 than by celebrating the lives of two of Maine’s finest.

    I want to thank the Horrigan family for sharing MSG Horrigan’s story with all of us at The Summit Project. Not only am I honored to learn about each of our fallen soldiers, but I feel that MSG Horrigan and all of the soldiers honored by TSP are continuing to make each of us better people. Each soldier I learn about also teaches me something about myself and challenges me to honor their memory each and every day through my own actions. MSG Horrigan and SFC Henderson may no longer be with us, but they continue to have a positive impact on all of us through The Summit Project that has a ripple effect to each of the people we touch in our day to day lives.

    Sincerely,
    Morgan Anderson

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