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Army Green Beret from O'Hara dies in North Carolina, family says

Major Benjamin H. Follansbee grew up in O'Hara and was a member of the Green Berets. He died Monday, Dec. 10 at Fort Bragg, N.C.

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Friday, Dec. 14, 2012, 12:54 p.m.
 

Relatives and friends remembered Maj. Benjamin Follansbee as an unassuming man but ambitious military officer who loved the study of history.

The Army Green Beret, who grew up in O'Hara and served in Iraq and Afghanistan, died near Fort Bragg, N.C., of an apparent suicide, police said on Friday.

Follansbee, 31, apparently hanged himself on Monday in his Fayetteville, N.C., residence, said Gavin McRoberts, a spokesman for the Fayetteville police.

The death is under investigation, McRoberts said.

Follansbee's co-workers called police when he did not show up for work that morning, McRoberts said.

Follansbee was a graduate of Shady Side Academy and the University of Delaware, where he was in the Army's ROTC program.

He served as an airborne Army Ranger in Iraq in 2005 and 2006. He later completed training as an Army Green Beret and did three tours of duty in Afghanistan.

Follansbee received two Bronze Stars and several other military medals and commendations.

“He was someone who never spoke about his achievements. He would be appalled that people were writing about him. He would want this to be about the Green Berets, the military's unsung quiet heroes,” said his father, Dr. William Follansbee, a UPMC cardiologist.

Benjamin Follansbee never told his father about the two Bronze Stars he had won.

“He and I had some wonderful talks over the years. It was clear to me that there was a lot he was not talking about,” William Follansbee said.

His father said his son's other awards include a NATO medal, an Army Achievement Medal and an Army Service Medal.

Benjamin Follansbee was determined to enter the military from a young age. He earned a pilot's license before graduating from high school and received a congressional appointment to the Air Force Academy but was ultimately turned down because of a need for allergy medication.

Emy Boag, a neighbor and family friend in O'Hara, said Benjamin Follansbee “was a very creative and independent-thinking young person.”

In addition to his father, Follansbee is survived by his mother, Susan Follansbee; sister, Katherine Follansbee Junger of Cincinnati; and brother, Christopher Follansbee of Pittsburgh.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

Rick Wills is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7944 or rwills@tribweb.com.

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