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Remembering Chris Thibodeau

Christopher Thibodeau (CWR '04) was 10 years old when he found out that he needed glasses. His parents were both concerned their son, a boy with a dream of flying, would be devastated. But when they arrived at the school nurse's office, young Chris calmly told them, "There's time. The rules can change."

mom to be on bed rest

"That was Chris," his mother, Doreen Thibodeau, who works in Case Western Reserve University's Office of Student Affairs, says. "His determination was second to none."

That unwavering determination, a smile that could light up any room, his homemade beer, his jokes, his jack-of-all-trades knowledge and his "heart of gold," his mom says, are just a few of the things people miss about Chief Warrant Officer Christopher R. Thibodeau. He died May 26 when his Apache helicopter crashed during combat in Afghanistan.

Born Oct. 3, 1982, Thibodeau grew up in New Hampshire. He was 8 years old the first time he saw the U.S. Navy Blue Angels fly—and he was instantly hooked. The Thibodeau family moved to Ohio when Chris was 15, and in 2004 he graduated from Case Western Reserve University with a degree in political science.

Still holding fast to his dreams of flying—with the knowledge that, as he had predicted, U.S. Army flight school now accepts candidates with corrected vision—he joined the reserves. Fast forward a few years, and Chris, newly married and a proud Apache pilot, was deployed to Afghanistan— where he earned medals and honors including the Air Medal and two Army Achievement Medals.

"He wanted to be where the action was," Doreen Thibodeau says. "He was 28, and he lived his dream. How many 28-year-olds can say that?"