YORK – General Douglas MacArthur spoke of West Point when he tied athletics and military leadership by saying, "Upon the fields of friendly strife are sown the seeds that upon other days and other fields will bear the fruits of victory."
Family and friends of Todd Weaver believe the seeds of military leadership sprouted in him first on the football and baseball fields at Bruton High.
Tonight, Bruton will honor Weaver for service to his country.
1st Lt. Todd Weaver was killed on Sept. 9 by an improvised explosive device while on foot leading an Army infantry patrol of American and Afghani soldiers in Kandahar, Afghanistan. He left behind a wife, Emma, 1-year-old daughter Kiley and many friends and family who will be on hand when he is honored prior to the kickoff of the Bruton-Smithfield football game.
During the ceremony, Bruton will retire the football and baseball jerseys of Weaver, a 2002 graduate who started at quarterback and third base. They will be placed on the school's wall of fame. The ceremony will include information about a scholarship in Weaver's honor.
Donn Weaver, Todd's father, is touched by the tribute to his son and is especially happy it will be done on the Panthers football field.
"He developed such good friendships in football and baseball," Donn Weaver said. "I think that helped mold his desire to be part of a bigger team, a tougher team, in the Army."
Weaver was already a pretty tough guy on the playing fields at Bruton, even as he was the quintessential scholar-athlete. He scored higher than 1,300 on his SAT, graduated with better than a 4.0 grade point average and, his dad said, "earned just about every honor he could at graduation."
In football, he guided the 2001 Panthers as quarterback only a year after knee surgery. If that wasn't a big enough challenge, he was the guy who moved into the quarterback position following Bryan Randall, the best football player in school history.
"Todd had huge shoes to fill, but he always came through for us," said Andrew Proctor, a linebacker and tight end on the team. "He was the big team leader, the guy who always got everybody up.
"It was easy to follow him because of the confidence he exhibited."
Weaver was a pretty good quarterback, too. He threw for more than 200 yards in his debut as a starter, had a key touchdown pass in an upset of eventual regional champion Poquoson and led a rebuilding team to an unexpected 5-5 record.
"A lot of people expected us to fall off after Bryan Randall and those kids left," said Kyle Neve, Bruton's coach that season. "Todd was one of the reasons we did so well.
"He was a great leader and a great kid, the kind of kid who would do anything the coaches asked. His biggest gift was that he was so smart: I could tell him something one time and he would get it."
Scott Joyner, Bruton's baseball coach at the time, said Weaver's toughness made him a talented athlete.
"I know it sounds like a cliché, but he was the born leader who would run through a wall for you," Joyner said, noting that Weaver hit for a nearly .400 average but was most valuable defensively. "Third base is a rough spot to play, but he would get his nose in front of every ball and sacrifice his body to keep it from getting through."
Weaver was a high school senior during the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The incident inspired him, after a short stint at James Madison University, to join the National Guard.
His unit was deployed to Iraq in 2004, where Weaver saw action as a combat engineer. On Dec. 21, 2004, Weaver ate breakfast then left for patrol from the dining hall in Mosul where 22, including 14 American soldiers, were killed later that day by a suicide bomber.
Two friends were killed in the blast and two in his unit were killed when his National Guard unit redeployed to Iraq. Thereafter, Weaver wore a silver bracelet bearing their names made by Colonial Williamsburg silversmith George Cloyed, his wife Emma's father.
Following Iraq, Weaver majored in government at William and Mary, graduating summa cum laude. Weaver opted for the Army rather than the more lucrative private sector.
He completed the Army's difficult Ranger School. He was the top graduate of his IOBC (Infantry Officer Basic Course), whose curriculum included leadership.
A platoon leader with the 101st Strike Brigade, his peers then selected him executive officer. He chose to remain a platoon leader so he could lead troops into contact with the enemy in Afghanistan on a regular basis. He did not shirk danger.
Said Donn Weaver: "In that night ambush (when Todd was killed) he was leading that patrol into combat. He was the one responsible for their lives, but no one else lost theirs and no other soldier was wounded.
"That, to me, is a mark of leadership. I'm very confident that throughout his time in Afghanistan, in ROTC, in Ranger School, in all the things he did in the Army, he was a leader."
Weaver's mom, Jeanne, is now a Gold Star Mother, the gold star representing any mother who has lost a child in the line of duty of the United States Armed Forces. Pete Cline, whose family housed Weaver one school year when Donn Weaver was working overseas, says Todd Weaver was indeed a star, on the playing fields of Bruton and thereafter.
"Just look up in the sky and see the brightest star up there," he said. "That was Todd."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun