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A salute to honor, sacrifice and a life of servant-leadership
Posted 02/10/2018 05:09PM
The day any American soldier graduates from U.S. Army Ranger School, they pledge to “shoulder more than my share of the task, whatever it may be.” When it comes to Derek Hines ’99, killed in action in Afghanistan in 2005, there may be no better way to distill the measure of the man than those 12 words. In recognition of an extraordinary native of the Commonwealth, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker participated in on-ice ceremonies commemorating Hines prior to Saturday’s 10th anniversary edition of the Derek Hines ’99 Memorial Game. The Eagles faced off against Clippers of Newburyport, Hines’ hometown, at the Essex Tech Sports Center in Middleton.

In the course of a stirring and compassionate pregame remembrance, St. John’s unveiled a lasting memorial to Hines that will become a permanent part of the Circle of Honor on the school’s campus. The Prep also formally retired Hines’ No. 23 ice hockey jersey. Proceeds from the annual game benefit the 1st Lt. Derek Hines Soldiers Assistance Fund, which provides financial relief for Massachusetts soldiers and their families. As part of the on-ice tribute, collections for the Fund taken up by friends of St. John’s Prep hockey were presented to Derek’s parents, Sue and Steve Hines—an amount totalling more than $12,000.

“We at St. John’s are fortunate to call Derek one of our own, and we are heartened to know his powerful story serves as an inspiration to past, present and future generations of young men,” said St. John’s Headmaster Dr. Edward Hardiman. “I think that Governor Baker’s presence here today underscores the solemnity of this occasion and the scope of Derek’s influence.”

“We trust that Derek’s memorial on our campus and his retired No. 23 will serve as an enduring reminder for our students that good things happen when you focus on something greater than yourself,” Hardiman added. “The Xaverian value of simplicity is about our collective humanity and being present for one another in our daily lives. Derek had a deep understanding of this value, and the world is a better place because of it.”

As expected, Governor Baker’s attendance elevated the statewide profile of the event, but a host of additional special guests were on hand. Derek’s brother, Mike ’03, and his wife, Elizabeth, along with their daughter MaryClaire were also present, in addition to Derek’s sister, Ashley, and her husband Matt Randi, a retired retired U.S. Army Captain. Nancy and John Frates made an appearance with their son Peter’s daughter, Lucy, as a show of support for the Hines family.

Bobby Colliton, a former Ranger who served beside Derek in Afghanistan, appeared on the ice as part of the pregame program. Mr. Colliton is the founder of the Skate for The 22 Foundation, which raises awareness of the high suicide rate among military veterans, and provides financial assistance to families of veteran suicide victims along with scholarships for their children. Cadet Sean Fallon ’16, a member of the Class of 2020 at West Point, watched the proceedings via live stream with a large group of fellow cadets.

Owing to Hines’ upbringing in both Amesbury and Newburyport, State Representative James Kelcourse of Newburyport was also in attendance. Governor Baker spoke privately with both the Hines and Frates parents prior to the on-ice program.

“Derek was such a part of St John’s and the Prep was so much a part of him,” said Derek’s father, Steve Hines, a retired Massachusetts State Police officer. “Derek was a hockey player. Right from the beginning, Derek was about his teammates, and he took that to the battlefield. The Governor has known us and Derek’s story for a while. He always tells us what a great job we did as parents. Obviously, we wish we weren’t in this situation, but we can’t turn back time. To think that Derek’s legacy lives on through this game, and will now live forever with the memorial on the Prep campus, well, it’s humbling for our entire family. As a parent, it’s sad, but kind of amazing—even comforting.”

A two-sport captain at the Prep, Hines played in every varsity hockey game during his four years as an Eagle, and continued his hockey career as a cadet at the United States Military Academy at West Point, where he earned captain status with the Black Knights. After graduating West Point in 2003, he became an Army Ranger and was deployed to Afghanistan with the 173rd Airborne Division’s Brigade Combat Team in March of 2005. Assigned to direct artillery as a fire support officer for an infantry company, he was killed in action in service of his country on September 1, 2005. He was 25.

Hines joins Pete Frates ’03, who popularized the Ice Bucket Challenge, as one of only two scholars-athletes to have his number retired in the 110-year history of St. John’s Prep athletics. Derek’s No. 23 and Pete’s No. 3, now both formally discontinued in the sport of ice hockey, are on display behind the Prep bench at every Eagles home game.

“During the first week of tryouts his freshman year, Derek and a few other freshmen worked with the varsity,” recalls former St. John’s ice hockey head coach Bob Marinelli, who spent 12 years at the Eagles helm following 13 years as an assistant. “I hadn’t encountered him before. Suddenly, he’s showing the way for the rest of the team with hustle, hard work and tremendous effort. His enthusiasm never waned. He was the first in line for every drill. I remember I actually stopped practice to point out to the veterans that Derek was setting the example for how things should be done.”

Also a standout lacrosse player at the Prep, Hines, just 5-foot-6 and 165 pounds, was one of the smallest players in all of Division I hockey during his collegiate career, but he played 110 games for Army. During his sixth-month combat deployment, he served with valor, earning the respect of peers, subordinates and commanders while repeatedly facing Taliban insurgents—once leading a counterattack despite being wounded by shrapnel. He was awarded two Purple Hearts and the Bronze Star for his service.

During his tour, Hines poured time and energy into civil affairs missions to improve local infrastructure. When he wasn’t in the field, he focused on securing toys and school supplies for the Afghan children he encountered in the region. On September 1, 2005, elements of Lt. Hines’ rifle platoon were on patrol and searching for insurgents, who were setting off improvised explosive devices in the Dayshopan District, a Taliban stronghold in the Zabul Province of Afghanistan. After his patrol located the enemy cell in the remote mountainous area of Baylough, a firefight ensued and Lt. Hines was killed by small arms fire.

Hines’ selfless commitment to his fellow soldiers lives on through his fund, which provides direct assistance to soldiers from the Commonwealth who have incurred serious, career-ending or life-altering injuries while on active duty. In 2007, St. John’s established the Derek Hines ’99 Scholarship Award, presented annually to a rising senior student-athlete to recognize a “fearless leader and beloved fan favorite who always places his team first.” Hines was posthumously inducted into the St. John’s Prep Athletic Hall of Fame in 2010.

In 2007, Mr. Hines accepted the NCAA's Award of Valor on behalf of his late son. The award recognizes “a former NCAA varsity student-athlete who when confronted with a situation involving personal danger, averted or minimized potential disaster by courageous action or noteworthy bravery.” Every year since 2006, the West Point hockey program has presented the Derek Hines Award to recognize a person who has displayed extraordinary support for the program and who cares more about giving than receiving. Since 2007, the American Hockey Coaches Association has presented the Derek Hines Unsung Hero Award annually to honor the “consummate team player and team builder.”

 

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