Joe Delvecchio always told his nephew Aaron Dale Istre he would become a general someday.
Jim Reeves calls his son Robert James Reeves his personal hero, even to this day.
The two men spoke fondly of their relatives on Wednesday, when the names of the pair of former LSU students and fallen veterans were unveiled on the LSU War Memorial’s Wall of Honor on the Parade Ground.
The wall honors LSU military students who have died in combat.
“He was dedicated to serving, whether it was his family, fellow man or his country,” Delvecchio said of his nephew.
Istre, an Army captain, died March 24 during a training missing outside Kandahar, Afghanistan.
Reeves was a Navy chief petty officer and member of the Navy’s Special Warfare Tactical Development and Evaluation Group, more commonly known as SEAL Team Six. He died in a helicopter crash Aug. 6, 2011 in Afghanistan, which killed 30 U.S. troops.
Istre graduated from LSU in 2003 with a bachelor’s degree in environmental management systems.
Reeves attended LSU from 1997 to 1998 before enlisting in the Navy.
Delvecchio and Jim Reeves gave speeches before a small crowd gathered at the memorial, sharing memories of the soldiers’ lives.
Reeves said he picked up his son from LSU’s campus in May 1998, and on their drive back to Shreveport, Robert Reeves described his plans for becoming a Navy SEAL.
“This is coming from a kid who never thought 10 minutes into the future — he’s giving me the layout of the next 10 years of his life,” Reeves said.
Reeves also recalled how his son overcame many trials during his military service, including being shot in the neck in 2003 and escaping unharmed from a roof collapse after a grenade blast in Kandahar in 2008.
“Rob’s enthusiasm for and love of being a Navy SEAL never faded through his 13 deployments and five Bronze Stars,” Reeves said. “The stories and his sense of humor never stopped, either.”
Delvecchio said his nephew loved his family and enjoyed barbecuing with his family. He said Istre was a calming influence and made life better for those around him.
Delvecchio said he and his family used to joke with Istre that he would eventually reach the rank of general. However, they weren’t kidding that much, Delvecchio said.
“He would have attained this position had his mission here on Earth with us been extended,” Delvecchio said.
Brig. Gen. Glenn Curtis, adjutant general of the Louisiana National Guard, told the crowd the United States owes the families of Reeves and Istre a debt of gratitude.
Curtis removed his hat and placed it over his heart as he turned and looked at the family during his speech.
“Thank you for what your sons were willing to do for our nation, and to answer the call that they did and pay the ultimate sacrifice,” Curtis said as he addressed the families.
In his speech, Curtis noted LSU’s rich military history, including 20 ROTC cadets who were commissioned on May 17.
“We’re grateful that LSU continues to educate and train many who will provide strong and dedicated leadership in our armed forces,” he said.
William Jenkins, interim president for the LSU System and interim chancellor for the Baton Rouge campus, also extended his condolences to Reeves’ and Istre’s family and friends on behalf of LSU.
“We are pleased that they chose to be LSU students,” he said.