I learned recently that my law school classmate Michael Weston was one of the DEA agents killed last week in Afghanistan in the helicopter crash following a drug raid that killed all ten on board. Here’s a story about him from his hometown paper.
I wanted to say a few words about Mike. He was a really brilliant guy, and about as unconventional as you see at a place like Harvard Law School. He had been a computer science major at Stanford, but when he got to law school he quickly decided the law was a waste of time. So he decided to join the Marines. And no, he didn’t want to be a military lawyer, or even an officer: He enlisted in the Marines in their general enlistment so he could start from the bottom. Over the summer, when his Harvard Law classmates were earning big bucks as summer associates, Mike was in basic training at Parris Island. He even made a point to leave his final exams an hour or so early to go for a run — he wanted to make sure he was in shape for basic. So he was off to the Marines after law school, and I never saw Mike again.
Every death is a tragedy, and there are lots of tragic aspects to Mike’s death. I want to single out just one of them. Mike’s best friend in law school was our classmate Helge Boes. In February 2003, Helge himself died in Afghanistan while serving in the CIA. (I blogged about Helge’s death here back at the time.) When Harvard Law School looked for someone to write a memorial for Helge, they asked Mike. Mike was serving in Kuwait at the time. Mike had lost touch with Helge, but he wrote a touching eulogy for him, A Born Soldier, later published in the law school alumni magazine. Here’s the conclusion, which now the fates have applying equally to its author:
When I return from this war, I will visit his grave, to say farewell and to apologize for letting such a priceless friendship slip away, and to try to make my peace with his death. There is nothing I can do for him now, here in the desert of northern Kuwait. But I ask you to honor him, in whatever way seems appropriate. He was the best of us.
As was Mike. May he rest in peace.
I’m not going to open comments, but I did want to flag the memorial service that will be held for him in case any of Mike’s friends are reading. According to the comments in this post, it will be this Friday at 1pm at the Quantico Marine Base. The event is open to the public (although the press is not permitted): Just provide an ID and say you are there for the Weston service.
UPDATE: Much to my surprise, I found a documentary online that includes a 3-minute segment about Mike. He talks about his experience in law school, his decision to join the marines, and his experience serving in Iraq. You can watch that segment here starting at the 3-minute mark:
ANOTHER UPDATE: A memorial page has been set up here.