Jeffrey Philip Toczylowski
Major, United States Army
RELEASE from the United States Department of Defense
November 6, 2005
Media Contact: Army Public Affairs - (703) 692-2000 Public/Industry Contact: (703)428-0711
DoD Identifies Army Casualty
The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Captain Jeffrey P. Toczylowski, 30, of Upper Moreland, Pennsylvania, died in Al Anbar Province, Iraq, on November 3, 2005, from injuries sustained during combat operations. Toczylowski was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group, Panzer Kaserne, Germany.
For further information related to this release,
contact Army Public Affairs at (703) 692-2000.
WILLOW GROVE, PENNSYLVANIA - A soldier killed in Iraq had recently sent family and friends an e-mail saying he would have no regrets if he died in combat.
Captain Jeffrey P. Toczylowski, 30, a Special Forces detachment commander assigned to the 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group, fell from a helicopter during combat operations in Al Anbar province on November 3, 2005,the Army said Monday.
"It was an honor to serve my country, and I wouldn't change a thing. It was just my time," Toczylowski, of Upper Moreland Township, Montgomery County, had written in the e-mail.
The e-mail, read by his father, Philip M. Toczylowski, of Ambler, asked relatives and friends to "be happy for the time we had - not the future we won't."
He left instructions for a party in Las Vegas and said "$100 K" would be available to pay for travel and accommodations.
Philip Toczylowski said his son had been in Iraq only 17 days when he was killed.
Jeffrey Toczylowski had recently lost a friend to a heart attack and the loss had made him aware of his own mortality, his father said. That prompted him to write the e-mail for friends and family in the event of his death.
In the message, Toczylowski also defended the military effort in Iraq.
"Don't ever think that you are defending me by slamming the global war on terrorism or the U.S. goals in that war," he wrote. "As far as I am concerned, we can send guys like me to go after them, or we can wait for them to come back to us again."
Toczylowski's father and mother, Margaret R.
Toczylowski, were making arrangements for a funeral service Friday at Valley
Forge Military Academy and College, and burial Monday at Arlington National
9 November 2005:
A Funeral Mass for Army Captain Jeffrey Toczylowski, 30, formerly of Upper Moreland, who died November 3, 2005, in Iraq, will be at noon Friday at Valley Forge Military Academy in Wayne. Friends may call at 9:30 a.m. Burial will be at 9 a.m. Monday in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.
Captain Toczylowski died of injuries suffered in a fall from a helicopter during a combat infiltration in Anbar province. He had been in Iraq for 17 days. He was a detachment commander with First Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne).
He graduated from Archbishop Wood High School in Warminster. In 1995 he was commissioned a second lieutenant through the Reserve Officer Training Corps program at Valley Forge Military Academy. He earned a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Texas A & M University in 1997. He had been a platoon leader for a military police company in Germany and was later deployed to Bosnia, served three years as a force protection officer in Stuttgart, Germany, and had been assigned to the 10th Special Forces Group since 2003.
"He loved his country and died doing something he believed in," said his father, Philip Toczylowski. He was known for his generosity, his father said.
In addition to his father, Captain Toczylowski is survived by his mother, Margaret; sister, Pamela; and grandmothers Mary Gruber and Irene Toczylowski.
Friends may contact James O. Bradley Funeral Home in Penndel at 215-757-3379 for information about a bus on Sunday to Arlington National Cemetery.
Memorial donations may be made to the Special
Forces Warrior Foundation, Box 13483, Tampa, Fla. 33681.
"I'm going to insert Jeff's e-mail in my Bible in the third chapter of Ecclesiastes, and chances are future homilies will incorporate some of it," Monsignor James Mortimer said during the solemn service inside a cross-shaped chapel at Valley Forge Military Academy and College in Wayne, Delaware County.
In the prophetic e-mail, which read in part, "It was an honor to serve my country, and I wouldn't change a thing. It was just my time," the 30-year-old Upper Moreland native and Archbishop Wood High School graduate spoke truths about love, caring and patriotism, Mortimer said.
He died November 3, 2005, in a fall from a helicopter during a combat infiltration while in hostile enemy territory in Al Anbar province, just 17 days after arriving in Iraq, according to the U.S. Army Special Operations Command. The command oversees the 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) to which Toczylowski belonged. The Green Beret unit is based at Panzer Kaserne in Germany.
Captain Steve Sabo of the 10th Special Forces Group said an investigation into Toczylowski's death is continuing.
Mortimer wasn't the only one to mention Toczylowski's e-mail during the Mass. Sister Marita Rose, Toczylowski's great aunt, also quoted from it: "I died doing something I believed in, and I have no regrets," he wrote, and he said he wanted his family and friends to be happy for the time they had together.
Toczylowski's father, Philip, was emotional during the service, often dabbing at his eyes with a handkerchief. However, he composed himself in order to play taps outside the chapel, just moments after saying a tearful goodbye as pallbearers assembled to take his son's casket down the aisle and out to a waiting hearse.
The procession from the chapel to the hearse was led by a military color guard and altar boys carrying a crucifix, as "Amazing Grace" was played on a bagpipe.
After the elder Toczylowski played taps, hundreds of mourners stood in silence until the hearse with the flag-draped casket inside it drove slowly away, and a cadet played a second round of taps. Behind the hearse,
another cadet led a horse with its stirrups reversed, as is tradition at military funerals, according to Col. James Doyle, superintendent of the school.
Toczylowski will be buried with full military honors at 9 a.m. Monday at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
Toczylowski was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in 1995 through the Reserve Officer Training Corps program at the military college. He earned a bachelor's degree in criminal justice at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, in 1997.
According to his uncle Chuck Gruber, Toczylowski was being considered for a promotion to the rank of major when he died.
Hatboro District Judge Paul Leo was among the long line of mourners who filed through the church to pay their respects. Leo said he had coached Toczylowski in youth baseball and soccer leagues; Toczylowski and his son had been friends, and he knew his family well.
"If the world had more people like him, it would be a great place to be in," he said. "He's just a credit to the human race. I'm going to miss him terribly."
Leo said a number of boys - now men - who had played on those sports teams, including his son, also came to say their goodbyes.
"As far as I'm concerned, he's a hero, and
he always will be."
Posted on Saturday, November 18, 2006
Soldier ups $100K for own memorial bash
BY BOB SIPCHEN
Courtesy of the Los Angeles Times
LAS VEGAS - Shortly after Jeffrey "Toz" Toczylowski's last mission in Iraq a year ago this month, friends received a message.
"If you are getting this e-mail, it means that I have passed away," the missive said. "No, it's not a sick Toz joke, but a letter I wanted to write in case this happened."
The Army Special Forces Captain, 30, said he would like family and friends to attend his burial at Arlington National Cemetery, "but I understand if you can't make it." The message, distributed by a fellow Green Beret after Toczylowski's family had been notified of his death, added this: "There will also be a party in Vegas with a 100k to help pay for travel, room and a party."
Last Saturday afternoon, Jeffrey's mother, Peggy, hustled about Las Vegas' Palms Hotel and Casino, making final arrangements for a bash that drew family and childhood friends from her son's hometown in suburban Pennsylvania, young men and women from his days at Texas A&M, and comrades in arms who had bonded with "Toz" on missions they could not discuss with civilians.
By 7 p.m., the last of 120 or so invited guests were offering hotel bouncers the password and trooping into the Palm's 10,000-square-foot "Hardwood" entertainment suite.
Two young women in skimpy outfits poured liquor from the fully stocked bar. Disc jockeys blasted rock and rap from a loft decked out with a pool table, a wide-screen video-game console and a circular love seat with remote controls that rotated it out of view.
A limbo contest erupted. With help from soldiers from the Special Forces base near Stuttgart, Germany, a full-size cutout of Toczylowski in red flight suit appeared to hold the pole while a long line of partygoers wobbled underneath.
Around midnight, the Toz cutout -- wearing a Russian fur cap with goofy earflaps -- joined in the dance contest, wriggling between couples to show off moves of dubious propriety.
At 3 a.m., music still thudded, folks were still hurling basketballs at the hoop (the three Murphy beds in the court's walls had yet to be unfolded) and the Toz cutout hovered over the suite's glass-enclosed Jacuzzi.
Jeffrey's mother had placed photos of the missing host -- hoisting a big fish, grinning beside a waterfall, posing with his motorcycle -- around the suite. Although most of the TVs aired football games, the main room's largest screen featured home videos Jeffrey's sister Pam, 34, had assembled.
Early in the evening, the footage was of Toczylowski as a child. As the night wore on, the young man went skydiving across the screen, ran with the bulls in Pamplona and helped lock a friend in an outhouse at a car race.
Peggy, 55, had wanted all the images to be joyful. But well past midnight, someone put in a more current DVD. Tracer bullets streaked across the Iraq sky. Buildings exploded in fireballs. And there was Toz, crammed into a helicopter with Special Forces comrades, fitted with enough high-tech gear to fill a Best Buy store.
A soldier who'd served on Toczylowski's 12-man A-team was making seductive overtures to an attractive A&M alum when the screen filled with footage of his teammate's memorial service at a dusty base in Iraq. Taps sounded. The Green Beret turned away, weeping.
Off and on, Peggy Toczylowski got teary, too.
A manager at a Pennsylvania design studio, she'd been in her office on Nov. 4 last year when three uniformed soldiers came to inform her that her son had been killed on a combat mission in Iraq's Anbar province.
The party was the challenge for the family. But Peggy and Pam say Jeffrey was wise, and they're convinced he knew that assigning them planning duties would keep their minds off losing a son and brother.
By the time a waiter pushed through the door of the "Hardwood Suite" with a breakfast cart full of juices and pastries, Pam Toczylowski ventured to guess that the party would probably come in just under $100,000, including airfare and rooms for her brother's teammates and a few friends who otherwise might not have been able to attend.
She said it was worth it.
"Jeff was the kind of person who lived every
day as if it would be his last," Pam said. And he would want them to make
his farewell bash "a party that when people leave, they will talk about
Film will tell fallen soldier's tale
A few days after Army Special Forces Captain Jeffrey Toczylowski died in Iraq, friends found his last message waiting in their inbox:
“If you are getting this e-mail, it means that I have passed away. No, it's not a sick Toz joke, but a letter I wanted to write in case this happened.”
The Upper Moreland native then invited them to a $100,000 Las Vegas party he'd planned in celebration of his life.
If it sounds like a movie, Hollywood agrees.
New Line Cinema bought the rights to Toczylowski's story for a movie it's calling “Time of Your Life,” according to Variety Magazine.
The screenplay, which has not been written yet, will be based on the events leading up to Toczylowski's death in 2005 after falling from a helicopter in Iraq's Al-Anbar province. Toczylowski wrote the e-mail before leaving for Iraq and asked a friend to forward it to loved ones in the event of his death. About 125 people showed up for the celebration at the Palms Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas a year later.
The script for “Time of Your Life” will be written by Jim Burstein and Garrett Schiff, who have written screenplays for Universal and MGM Studios, according to Variety Magazine. Los Angeles-based Temple Hill Entertainment's Wyck Godfrey and Marty Bowen have been picked to produce the film, the article said. That production team was also behind the 2006 film “The Nativity Story.”
Posted: 8 November 2005 Updated: 9 November 2005 Updated: 12 November 2005 Updated: 11 February 2006 Updated: 4 March 2006 Updated: 18 November 2006
Updated: 19 October 2007 Updated: 14 May 2008
Photos By Michael Robert Patterson, May 2008