Quote: "There was definitely a vindictive side to it. I can go back and tell their families everything we did."
 
— 
Lt. Chris  Blaha, 10th Mountain Division

Blaha is a 24-year-old resident of Great Neck, Long Island.

 

Photos at right: Jonathan Ielpi and Andrew Stergiopoulos, both killed in the attacks on New York's World Trade Towers.

Source: John Lehman with Post wire services, The New York Post, 11 March 2002, story on page four.

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New York GI strikes back for pals killed in WTC attack

HERO AVENGER

The New York Post, on 11 March 2002, ran a front page story about Lieutenant Christopher Blaha (10th Mountain Division). He was a man with a mission during an eight-day fight in the mountains of Afghanistan.

Blaha lost two close friends in the attack on the World Trade Center: Andrew Stergiopoulos (of the bond firm, Cantor Fitzgerald) and Jonathan Ielpi, a New York City firefighter. Their names were on grenades he threw at al Qaeda fighters.

"There was definitely a vindictive side to it," the Post quoted Blaha as saying, "I can go back and tell their families everything we did."

The families already know some of it. Blaha told his mother, before he left the states in January, that he was dedicating his mission to his friends. Steriopoulos' brother, George, told the paper that the family was touched. "I saw Chris going off to boot camp," George was quote as saying, "and we've been hoping that he's okay. That's really touching, what he said."

Jonathan Ielpi's mother told the Post, "We've known the family for years and we think it's great if he can get a little retaliation. It means a lot to everyone."

Cooky Blaha said, "He's just a kid from Great Neck really, but he called me this morning and told me he had been ordering in the planes with the bombs and I couldn't believe it—he's made us all proud."