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Friends, family and fellow soldiers remember Tony Case

A Junior ROTC member presents flag to Tommy and Lori Redmond, Case’s stepfather and mother, as niece Isabella Redmond looks on. A Junior ROTC member presents flag to Tommy and Lori Redmond, Case’s stepfather and mother, as niece Isabella Redmond looks on.

Friends, family and fellow soldiers celebrated the life of Tony Case during a memorial service Saturday at his alma mater, East Henderson High School.

The Henderson County Honor Guard presented the colors, fired a three-volley salute and played “Taps” in his honor and two Junior ROTC students presented a flag to Tony’s mother and stepfather, Lori and Tommy Redmond.
Case, a U.S. Army combat veteran of the Afghanistan War, took his own life last Nov. 19 at the age of 37. Because of the public health restrictions on gatherings, the family was unable to hold a memorial until this past weekend.
Blair Craven, Tony’s cousin, shared stories about growing up with Tony in Hendersonville, becoming roommates at East Carolina University and having good times with family and friends over the years.

Chris Whorley, a physician assistant who traveled to the service from New Mexico, went through boot camp with Tony and both became forward observers in northern Afghanistan. They remained close after they were discharged from the Army. A graduate of East Carolina University, Case could have become an officer. Instead, he opted to remain a sergeant.
TonyCaseArmySgt. Tony Case served as a forward observer with the 10th Mountain Division.“He was the kind of man that wanted to start from the bottom and work his way up and earn the trust of his men,” Whorley said from the stage of East’s auditorium, where Case starred in several musicals. “One thing anybody can take from this is to not suffer in silence. Talk to your friends, talk to your family. Who knows what might be different.”
Jason Fields, another 10th Mountain Division veteran, described Case’s experience at Barge Matal as one of the most hazardous in the war.
“The Taliban came in because they were trying to stop the voting,” said Fields, who was a mortar gunner. Barge Matal was “the most dangerous place in Afghanistan at the time. There were no roads in there and there were three mountains overlooking the village. Our unit went in to try to make it less of a haven” for insurgents. “We helicoptered in. It became the flashpoint for all of the Taliban in this very raw area.”
“When your job is shooting bad guys you couldn’t be in a place with more bad guys to shoot,” he said. “In any job you have good people and bad people so the bad people, you need to give them silly stuff to do. Tony was really good at his job. He was one of the more active forward observers in the unit. What the forward observers have to do is mark positions up in the hills where they’re attacking us or on rivers where they attack us from. They try to pre-identify those targets. That way the mortars and artillery from the main base can immediately point at that position.”

“The F.O. is kind of the most important part of the fire mission,” Fields added. “It’s extremely dangerous because you have to be right out front. F.O.s can’t hide in the rear. You have to be able to move with the commander. You have to be right in the middle in order to both direct the fire and get the orders to send fire.”
After he came home from Afghanistan, Case trained to be a physical therapy assistant, bought a camper and took off with his rescue dogs, Cerby and Willie Pete. He took physical therapy travel jobs in Arizona, Washington state and other places out west. Friends and family said they had no detected no clues that Case was struggling.
“It was hard to take because he had posts on Facebook that seemed so awesome — fishing, hunting,” Fields said. “You don’t realize that the hurting” is still there.
Did his friend Whorley have any inkling?
“No, he did a really good job of covering it up,” he said. “I saw him in October less than a month before he passed and I asked him if he was happy and doing good. He told me everything was fine.”
“It was utter shock” when he got a text about Tony’s death. “I had to reread it several times, (thinking) ‘No that’s not real.’ Then I called his mom and she told me everything.”

“Armed Forces Day,” Shuford Edmisten said during the service, “is for those on active duty. Veterans Day is for those of us who have hung up our uniform. Memorial Day is for those who never got a chance to take their uniform off. I feel like that was Tony Case.”
After the memorial service, American Legion motorcycle riders, sheriff’s deputies and city police escorted the funeral procession from East Henderson High School to American Legion Post 77 for a reception and barbecue dinner. Tony’s mother, Lori, was especially impressed with the escort.
“She was really happy about that,” said Fields, who is an attorney in Washington, D.C.
“I thought the service was really wonderful,” he added. “Afterwards, we got a chance to spend more time with the family. He had a very, very close family and we were very honored to have gotten to spend time with them. This has not been easy for them but it may begin the process of finding peace.”