‘This Is Us’ Honors Memory of CNY Marine Killed in Afghanistan
It's been 10 years since Lance Cpl. Jeremy Lasher of Oneida died in Afghanistan. He enlisted in the Marine Corps on October 10, 2006 and was serving his second tour of duty when he was killed. He was part of a team who were spearheading a major offensive against Taliban forces.
He was honored at the intersection of Route 365A and Stephens Street on Route 365A in the City of Oneida, which was named as “LCpl. Jeremy Lasher Memorial Highway" back in 2013, and now has been honored on television screens across America.
The Emmy winning NBC television show 'This Is Us' paid homage to the fallen CNY marine during the season four premiere episode. Many people thought it was just a coincidence, but it turns out it was very much planned.
According to Andrea Lasher, Lance Cpl. Lasher's wife, her husband is not the only one on the show who's memory is being honored. Cassie Sharp is based around a man whom her husband was deployed with. Marine Lance Cpl. Charles Seth Sharp was the first of their battalion to be killed in action in Afghanistan.
[WARNING: THIS NEXT SECTION COULD CONTAIN SPOILERS FOR SEASON FOUR EPISODE ONE OF 'THIS IS US.']
Season four introduces few new characters to add to the story line, including a military woman named Cassidy Sharp. According to USA Today, we see her stressed and serving in the Middle East, having barely any time to video chat with her husband and son. Cassidy is seemingly a high-level officer, integral in gathering intelligence about a terrorist from a contact in a village.
There's a scene about 15 minutes into the episode where we see Sharp and her troop getting off of their Humvee approaching a woman standing in the middle of the street putting on a latex glove. She observes the situation and says, "Lasher," making a command for him to keep his eyes on the woman in the street. He responds with "Roger that," and then Sharp instructs Waters to go with her to talk to the woman. From there, Lasher makes a command to the rest of the troop.
"Alright, listen up: go ahead and set up a cordon around the building."
She then has a conversation with the woman in Arabic, gives the woman a body search, then instructs Lasher to put a man at the door.
He then says to Sharp, "We're losing daylight. I'm not gonna have my guys in a row in the middle of night in IED country. You got five minutes."
Sharp goes inside the house, which actually appears to be a hospital, to talk to the contact she has regarding the terrorist. She promises her contact a visa to the USA and water for the village in exchange for a photo the woman has of the bomb maker.
The camera pans outside to Lasher and the rest of the troop. One of the soldiers gets Lasher's attention, he responds with "I see him," referring to the two men standing on the rooftop. Then, Lasher gets a call on his radio that ISR (Intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance) spotted 12 military aged males moving towards his location, possibly the enemy.
Meanwhile, Sharp gets the photo she's looking for and the next scene with a new character begins.
So, why did Lasher and Sharp get picked for 'This Is Us?'
One of the Marines who was deployed with Jeremy on his first deployment, his name is James LaPorta. He actually is a reporter, and he got out of the military and works in Florida. They reached out to him to become a military consultant on the show. I don't know how that came about - but we've stayed connected since they've (James) been out of the military. He just decided to do it. He got on the show and said (to the show's execs) "If I can, can I name two characters after two guys that I was deployed with that I was in the military with?" and they agreed to it and they approved it and he asked me if I was okay with it and I said "Yeah, go ahead."
Andrea is unsure if the character with her husband's name will be in any further episodes. She reached out to LaPorta to see, and hasn't got a response yet, but is supportive of whatever they have planned.
James actually put me in contact with the actor who plays Jeremy. His name is Rich Paul. I reached out to him and said "I don't have words." To me, if he's an ongoing character later on, it would be something I think more so for flashbacks that come about. Definitely plays that important role for the set up of these new characters and it's interesting. I reached out to him and said "It's such an honor for your to carry his name and his memory." He said "It's an honor for me to be able to carry your husbands name and to meet me," and it just gave him pride to do that for the character.
Andrea also says the actor playing her husband is a former Marine, also a purple heart recipient. She says it's interesting that he's also been through some of the same trials and tribulations and she'd love to be able to talk to him in depth more to hear his story.
When asked what it felt like watching the show, Andrea said it was a beautiful experience:
It's weird to say it, but just to hear his name. Just to hear it. Lasher. On TV. Not just the fact that it's on TV. But these actors are in their military gear, their marine core gear, it brought me back. It brought back that part of my life, it's been so long, ten years. It's one of those things where you're like "He was there, he was deployed," you hear the words, the jargon they speak to each other. The gear. Not so much that it was real, more like it brings back all the memories of a life that feels like it was forever ago - but also feels like it was just yesterday. When I was watching it, I didn't get overly emotional - but felt very honored and very grateful that the marine who was deployed with Jeremy, caries his name (by using it for a character in the show) and wants people to know his story.
She was also taken back by the fact that the show's executives even allowed for this to happen in the first place.
They didn't have to clear that and they did. It's one of those things where if I could look at them and say "thank you" - it's bigger than you even know just putting a name.
The show also had wristbands made for the actors and crew to wear to honor those who are being recognized on the show.
The NBC show 'This Is Us' follows the lives of siblings Kevin, Kate, and Randall and their parents Jack and Rebecca Pearson. It takes place mainly in the present and uses flashbacks to show the family's past. The new characters on the show will be connected somehow. This includes Sharp, who seems to have a main story line for Season Four. There's no public information on how these story lines continue.
Guess we'll have to watch and see for ourselves.
'This Is Us' airs on NBC at 9/8c every Tuesday.