Military service was the path Sgt. Steven C. Ganczewski chose early in life, and his determination never wavered, even when his grades at Niagara Falls High School would have easily gained him admission to a good college.
“He got a lot of [resistance] from guidance counselors when he said he was joining the Army,” said his father, Mark. “They didn’t understand why someone with his potential would join the Army.”
Ganczewski wanted to be an Army Ranger, and it was in that role that he died. The Pentagon announced Sunday that the 22-year-old husband and father was killed during combat operations Friday in Balad, Iraq, making him the 32nd member of the military from Western New York killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
When he left the service and returned to Niagara Falls, Ganczewski passed along his fascination with aircraft to his son, taking him to the air shows at the Niagara Falls air base.
During one of those visits, Steve Ganczewski saw a pamphlet for the Civil Air Patrol and, at age 12, he joined. By the time he left five years later, he was cadet commander.
“We knew pretty much right away that [the military] was what he wanted to do,” said high school friend A.J. Gelose. “He always had that drive. That was his dream.”
When he was 15 or 16, he attended a rescue course sponsored by the Civil Air Patrol. That, his father said, is when the military dream narrowed to the dream of being an Army Ranger. That also was about the time of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Mark Ganczewski remembers his son watching the coverage and saying, “Dad, we have to stop these people.”
The Buffalo News: Army Ranger from Niagara Falls, 22, killed in Iraq combat
There's more about his experience with CAP here.
:: Posting this note stings.
I consider CAP Cadets to be some of our best and brightest young people. I know the U.S. Army Rangers to be some of the most elite Warfighters in the world. So it makes me very sad to hear of the loss of Sgt. Ganczewski.
My thoughts are with his young family, his fellow Rangers, and his friends.