Photo by Steve Shay, portrait by Michael Reagan
Artist Michael Reagan of the Fallen Heroes Project attended a fundraiser last night at Salty's on Alki. He draws, then donates portraits of fallen soldiers to their loved ones. Pictured left to right, Pat Colgan, Howard Bogie, Michael Reagan, and Pat's husband, Joe Colgan. They hold a Reagan portrait of Pat & Joe's son, Ben, killed in Iraq nearly 10 years ago. Ben attended Mount Rainier HS, Des Moines, class of '91.

Salty's on Alki held fundraiser for Fallen Heroes Project

As we reported here, Salty's on Alki held a fundraiser last night, May 8, to help Edmonds artist Michael Reagan continue painting fallen soldiers that he gives to their grieving families at no charge for his Fallen Heroes Project.

Since retiring as UW's official artist for licensed sports portraiture and other items, Reagan has dedicated his life to painting portraits of fallen soldiers at no charge, from photos sent by their loved ones. He and his wife appeared at the fundraiser with a small crowd of supporters, including West Seattle's illustrious fundraiser, Howard Bogie, who helps promote Fallen Heroes. In the late '70's and early '80's Bogie kept stats for the Seahawks, Sonics, and Huskies (for KIRO radio), and faxed reports from the Mariners press box to the P-I and other media outlets while at the same time working for the parks department. The West Seattle Herald did an article on him here.

Also at the fundraiser were Gold Star Father and Mother Joe and Pat Colgan who lost their son, Ben, in the war in Iraq. A framed painting Reagan did of Ben appears in our photo above, taken at the event. The Colgans are longtime Kent residents. Ben graduated from Mount Rainier High School in Des Moines, class of 1991.

"Ben was our forth child of eight, and went to the Army right after high school," said Joe. "This kind of surprised us because my wife and I are pacifists and he'd been on peace marches with us."

Joe and Pat attend the Tuesday, lunchtime peace vigils at the Federal Building and ring a bell at noon for each fallen Washington State soldier who died in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Joe continued, "Ben wanted to be a medic. and became one over at the Yakima Firing Center. One of the sergeants said, 'If you want to get better, with faster training try out for the Special Forces.

"He got in there and did well," said Joe. "After four years he tried out for the Delta Force Team, got in, and became an officer in 2002. He was assigned 1st Armored Division and put right inside Iraq, with a unit placed right downtown in Bagdad for eight months. He was hit and killed by an IED (improvised explosive device). He did have three little girls and a wife. They live in Kansas City, and she remarried a really nice guy.

"I was in Germany serving in the Army from '63 to '65," said Joe. "My prayers were answered when my four brothers got high lottery numbers that kept them out of Vietnam, because that was a slaughter house too.

"I first heard about Michael Reagan and what he does a few months after Ben died, and I though I would pass. I didn't care too much for Ronald Reagan. (No relation) Then I heard more about his background and said, 'Sure, yes. In March 2004, I sent him pictures of Ben. Three days later he said the portrait was done. I decided I wanted to meet him and the first thing he said was he really liked President Bush. He knew my background (as a pacifist) and I said we don't agree on this and we kept talking. He was so damn direct. He's the type of guy you can't dislike. I got a brand new granddaughter, two months old, named Reagan. Maybe President Reagan did have something to say about trickle down," he said with a wry laugh.

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