PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The motto of the Green Berets is “To Liberate The Oppressed,” and Maj. Benjamin Follansbee, of O’Hara Township, made it his life’s work.
“Third Group has definitely been carrying more of its share of the weight for ongoing operations and I’m glad that I’ve been able to be a part of that,” Ben Follansbee said as the military paid tribute to his U.S Army Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg.
He joined the elite fighting force seven years ago after a deployment to Iraq, where he was wounded in an IED explosion.
He had since served four-tours of duty in Afghanistan.
“I remember Ben’s sense of commitment and intensity,” Paul Ejzack said. Ejzack was Follansbee’s English teacher and track coach.
The flag was lowered to half-staff at Shady Side Academy, where three generations of Follansbees have graduated.
It’s where Ben fell in love with history.
“And he would always ask those questions that made everybody else stop and think,” history teacher, Michelle Greene said.
Greene said Ben will live in her history classes as a man of purpose and great promise.
“Teaching here, I know I’m teaching leaders for the future and it was cut short,” Greene said.
On the school’s track and cross-country teams, Ben consistently raced against himself.
“Ben would push himself as hard as he could. He wanted to be his best. He wanted to see his personal best get better,” Ejzack said.
At the home where been was raised by his father, Dr. William Follansbee and his mother, Susan, along with twin sister Kate and brother Chris, memories are being gathered.
They will have nothing to do with the unseen pain and scars that Ben carried, which made him one of the more than 320 military suicides so far this year.
“His face immediately came to mind vividly, in his crew cut – a kind of beaming young man’s face with everything ahead of him,” Ejzack said.