Chief Warrant Officer Christopher R. Thibodeau was an Apache helicopter pilot assigned to the 1st Battalion, 4th Combat Aviation Brigade, Fort Hood, Texas.
Just weeks away from the end of his tour of duty and after having just recently learned that he was to become a father, he was tragically taken. Christopher was killed in action on May 26 in Paktika province, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when his helicopter crashed during combat operations.
Thanks to your donations, we will be building an Apache tribute rocker for Christopher’s unborn child. When discussing the design of this first tribute rocker, we reached out to Christopher\’s mother who was delighted, explaining that being an Apache Helicopter pilot was not what he did, but who he was! He loved flying from an early age, and this rocker will help his child know who he was and what he stood for.
Christopher’s mother brought tears to our eyes when she also shared, that in the short time that he celebrated his pending fatherhood, he planned to build a rocker for his child. This was absolutely chilling for us. Not only will this help a hurting family by letting them know that they are not alone, that our nation cares and appreciates the service and sacrifice made by their hero, but also fulfills a father’s wish.
It is hard not to feel that Christopher is guiding our hands and hearts. We were searching for a way to use our talents to give back to our community, when his tragic story touched our hearts and guided us to create “Hero’s Rock”.
Christopher\’s mother will be helping us arrange the surprise delivery to Christopher’s wife and new born son, sometime after the baby is born in January 2012.
We will continuously keep you posted on the progress of this rocker and its delivery.
We would like to share the heartfelt thanks that Christopher’s mother expressed to all involved in making this happen! It was truly overwhelming! YOU ALL ROCK!
Celebrating the life of Christopher
Doreen, Mom to CW2 Christopher Thibodeau
When Chris was young, he had a friend that lived about a mile from us when we lived in NH. The problem was that one-half of that mile was a very steep hill. Chris always wanted to ride his bike to visit this friend so he could have his bike there. So we had a rule. Yes, he could ride his bike BUT he had to walk it down the hill.
One day, Chris came home and I asked to see his leg. Seems he was a bit banged up from riding his bike DOWN the hill and wiping out (thankfully he did where his helmet).
He was in awe that I knew what had happened. We cleaned him up discussed the why’s and he promised never to do it again.
The next day, Nikki and Chris were riding their bikes to the school and I warned them NOT to take off their helmets. Chris responded………you better listen Nikki. I think Mom puts an eye in each of our pockets when we leave for school every day and that is how she knows what we are doing all the time
It was not until he was in high school I finally told him how I knew……My friend lived at the bottom of that hill and just happened to be looking out the window and saw him wipe out. She knew my rules, so she called. AAAAAHHHH for the mother’s network!
I can’t say exactly went I met Chris. My daughter Jess and Chris are the same age and went to elementary school together. I met Bob and Doreen in the early ’90’s and we did many fun family things together. I have two distinct happy memories of Chris. One was after Christmas before New Years. I don’t remember which year. We were planning a New Year’s Eve party for friends and their families. The center attraction was to be a “tube sliding track” and a bon fire. Bob and Chris came over to help make the tube track. It required a lot of snow. Chris was young but he got right into the concept of the higher the bankings were on the track the faster you went on the tube. He naturally wanted to go fast so he worked very hard gathering as much snow as possible, sculpting the track and of course trying it
The other memory memory that stands out is Boy Scouts. Bob and I were among the leaders. We seemed to have a very high percentage rate of planning camping events that would correspond to rain and bad weather. On one of these soggy adventures the boys were rather glum. Chris was assigned the task of lighting the camp fire. It was pouring. He did not give up or use flammable liquids (to my knowledge). Be he was successful and had a very happy warm blaze to brighten the spirits of all. The thing I most remember was his smile. He had on this frumpy green rain hat, he was soaked to the bone but the glow of his smile was contagious.
I remember Chris and I were totally into cars and we always were tinkering with something, changing something, breaking something. We constantly were modifying our cars thinking they were fast.
My dad would get mad, cause he’d come home from work, and see my car on blocks with Chris And I under the car, tools spread all over the garage. This One time we decided to put lowering springs on my 1992 Saturn – we had no idea what we were doing, but we got the job done with a lot of sweat, a lot of cursing, and a few adult beverages.
We also had the great idea to paint our cars, turning his parents Barn into a makeshift paintbooth. They didn’t turn out too well, And this caused some friction between us, but in the end we made up and forgot about the stuff that didn’t matter
My name is Carl Ricco, and I was really great friends with Chris since I met him at CVS/Pharmacy.
Anna Rose Nix
I bred Akita puppies – Chris found an advertisement online for my puppies that had yet to be born in Fall 2008. He drove up from where he was training to fly his Apache helicopter in south AL at Fort Rucker. I lived just north of Birmingham. He wanted to see the sire and dam – so he and a friend drove up just to see them before the puppies were born.
I promised him pick of the litter since he was serving our country and in training. He was concerned that an Akita would not be able to live with LeeSandra’s Yorkie – Moony.
After meeting and playing with my dogs he decided that he wanted a puppy. He came up again once the pups were born to pick out his and LeeSandra’s pup.
When they were 8 weeks old – he came and picked up Nolan and took him back to Fort Rucker. He promised to stay in touch and let me know how the puppy was doing – and he kept his word. I had never felt quite so certain about the placement of a puppy into a new home. I knew he would be loved. As anybody who knows them – Nolan became an integral part of their family.
I feel so proud to know that Nolan is still there to protect Chris’s family and that a little piece of me lives in that home with baby Liam. And people who know me ask all the time still how LeeSandra is doing and now how Liam is doing. I only knew Chris a couple years and yet he and his family have touched me and so many people in my life through my updates on facebook. I am proud to call him my friend.
Anna Rose Nix
My Name is Jessica Mathis. I am LeeSandra Thibodeau’s Army sister. My husband flew with Chris, they were in the same company and deployed together on the same day.
Chris was home on R&R and LeeSandra had invited us over to meet Chris and eat with them. I love this picture because of Chris’ smile…they had started trying for a baby over R&R.
What I don’t have a picture of is the way LeeSandra looked at Chris while he was holding my daughter Olivia. I remember thinking that Chris would make a wonderful father. He was down on the floor playing with Olivia and wasn’t afraid to pick her up. I was equally impressed with how taken she was with him.
I know that Chris would have been a wonderful father to Liam.
I know LeeSandra, family and friends will forever be telling Liam how much his father already loved him in the couple of weeks he knew he was going to be a father. Your Daddy loves you Liam.
Chris had happiness and love shining out of him. He was always happy, and his smile lit up his whole face and you could not help but smile back. He had . the most amazing personality. He is someone I wanted to be friends with forever, and I was proud that he was our close friend even if it were for to short of a time. I cant help but sit here and look at this screen. How do you write friendship? How do you type out what kind of amazing person Chris was? How do I try to put on to paper the kind man that was inside?
When he was around, you literally felt a orb of fun, kindness, friendship, bright, funny, gentlness surrounding him. I really dont know how to put it fully into words. How do I even begin to describe how great he was with my young daughter Haley, and how much she loved him. He was always willing and ready to play with her. Always happy to spin her around one more time, lift her up higher, and let her touch the ceiling longer. I know she gave Chris the best arm work out ever, but he never said no, he never shied away from her, and treated her like a friend. He kept his childhood soul, a playful heart, and children just loved him. His smile made my daughters smile even brighter and her laughter louder.
I remember the first time he showed us Nolan. He came in and had what looked like a pillow of fuzz in his hand. He was so happy, and proud of his new baby. I can only imagne what kind of proud papa he would be to his own child. I know it would be a powerful burst of love, something turly amazing to see. I remember having my daughter come over to play with Nolan, and how Chris was teaching Nolan to play gentle with Haley to make Nolan a very kid friendly dog. I remember them all playing in the yard, and seeing that, I knew that Chris would be a hands on, playing on the ground, in the dirt, rolling in the mud kind of dad. I can honestly say, next to Haley’s own dad, Chris was her best friend
Chris and LeeSandra were a great team. Together they made the best St. Paddys day feast ever! It was the best food I have ever had. Any time we went to their house, we had such a lovely time. How can you not, when your surrounded by friendship & love. They looked at each other with love and kindness, they were beautiful couple always laughing, smiling, having fun together, and you could see how much they enjoyed each other and that they were not only in love, but best friends. When I look back the times hanging out with Chris & LeeSandra they were some of the best times I have ever had. Just hanging out with them watching the guys make beer, eating good food, with lots of fun, love, and laughter. Honestly, what can be better? I will always miss Chris, I will never forget him, and I will always honor Chris’s memory.
I have a million and one memories of Chris, mostly good, but as his sister, I’ve got some bad ones too! We grew up with the whole sibling rivalry thing going on, but at some point, we went from being just siblings to being friends. When Chris moved to Ft Hood after graduating from flight school, I was ecstatic since I had moved to Texas a few years earlier. It gave him and me a chance to form a friendship that I will forever be thankful for.
I remember really well when Chris called me and asked me if I would make the drive from Dallas to Ft Hood to help him pick out an engagement ring for LeeSandra. He told me he had narrowed it down to two, but needed a women’s opinion to make the final call. When I got there, we made up some silly excuse to go out cigar shopping so LeeSandra wouldn’t be interested and I got to see two beautiful rings – as expected, he chose the more unique one (which was my favorite too!) I had been back in Dallas a couple days when I got another call from him. I could hear LeeSandra in the background but was so confused.
He kept telling me she had found the receipt from the “WATCH” he had gotten her. “What?” was about all I could say… Then he had to repeat it, “you know, the WATCH we looked at.” Chris, in all his manly wisdom, had left the receipt for “jewelry” in his pocket and LeeSandra found it while doing laundry. Eventually I caught on and we smoothed it all out so she was still clueless, but it’s absolutely one of my favorite memories to this day and one I will hold on to forever. (Photo attached of Chris and LeeSandra right after the proposal which is another WONDERFUL story!)
Loving sister of CW2 Christopher R Thibodeau
I first met Chris when they moved to Ohio when Nikki and I were 13. Nikki and I became best friends and were always with each other. I have memories of Chris just being that annoying older brother who wouldn’t leave us alone. If we were out on the patio he had to come and start playing drums, if we were watching TV, he had to come and annoy us, etc. When we finally got to high school and joined marching band, Chris definitely knew it would be a great time to annoy all of us that were friends with Nikki.
One night 4 of us wanted to go bowling after a Friday night football game. Well instead we went to a restaurant and pretended it was one of our birthdays. I had a curfew of 1am which I definitely didn’t make.
In Chesterland anyone under 18 had to be home by 2am. Well the person driving wasn’t going to make this curfew so she couldn’t drop me off. Chris offered to take me home. I knew my parents were going to be mad but hey I still had to get home. Well the next day I went to Nicki’s to tell her I was grounded for 6 months and Chris overheard. He felt bad and tried to explain to my parents but they thought he was just covering for me. It was at that moment that I knew he would always and forever treat me as a sister and not just Nicki’s friend. And thanks to that night I was finally able to convince my parents to get me a cell phone and I was ungrounded 1 week later. Chris was definitely the brother that I never had and even though we all fought with him, he was always there to help us too.
My favorite memory of chris is probably the very first one I have of him. One day my cousins Erin and Ashley joined our family as we went to the Thibodeau’s house for a cook out. Ashley was right around Chris’s age, Erin was about the same age as Mike, and I was the annoying cousin who was about 10 years younger. I remember playing together with the older kids and having so much fun. The whole day Chris made sure to include me in every thing they did. We had so much fun playing in the yard and walking down to the playground at night. It meant so much to me that even though the four of them probably would have had more fun without me, he didn’t mind me tagging along. Ever since that day I looked up to him as if he were an older brother to me. Throughout the years he was always the one who would joke around with us kids.
He would sneak us drinks, play us in poker, have food fights with us…you name it. I know that I am not alone in saying that Chris was the older brother I never had.
Jourdyn Heilinger, Friend (more like adopted sister)