Shepaug grad Stephen Reich elected to CHSCA Hall of Fame
Published 1:06 pm, Wednesday, November 9, 2016
On Nov. 17, Reich will be inducted into the Connecticut High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame at the annual CHSCA Hall of Fame Induction ceremony at the Aqua Turf Club at 7 p.m.
A member of the Shepaug class of 1989, Reich helped lead the Shepaug baseball team to the 1987 CIAC Class S State Championship.
“Stephen was a great pitcher, one of the best in the state,” said Shepaug baseball Coach Scott Werkhoven, who was a teammate and friend of Reich’s. “He was just a sophomore when he helped us win the state title, a great, great pitcher.”
Reich went on to attend the United States Military Academy where he pitched for the Army baseball team and became one of the best pitchers in Army history. He was a three time league all-star and was the Patriot League Pitcher of the Year in 1993. He was inducted into the Army Sports Hall of Fame in 2006.
“He went on to become a great college pitcher,” Werkhoven said. “He was a great competitor.”
Reich graduated from West Point in 1993 and was selected to play for Team USA. He was chosen by the entire American delegation to carry the flag in the Opening Ceremonies of the 1993 World University Games. The World University Games team included future major league players such as Todd Helton, Todd Walker and A.J. Hinch.
After completing two years of his four-year military commitment, he was granted a release to sign with the Baltimore Orioles in 1996. He pitched in two games for their Class A affiliate, the High Desert Mavericks, before being called back to the Army.
Reich also could have left the school after his sophomore year and pursued a professional career. Instead, he remained and graduated in 1993. By remaining, he was committed to a career in the military.
“It was the kind of guy he was and what he believed in,” Werkhoven said. “He didn’t have any regrets and was proud of his service to our country.”
In 1996, Reich was ordered to Germany as a platoon leader with the 158th Aviation Regiment where he served in Operation Allied Force in Hungary, Bosnia, Albania and Kosovo.
Reich served four tours of duty in Afghanistan with the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Nightstalkers) and was killed in action on June 28, 2005 during Operation Red Wings to rescue a four-man Navy SEAL team. Reich was one of 16 troops (Nightstalkers and Navy SEALs) aboard an Army Special Operations MH-47 Chinook helicopter that was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan's Kunar province.
During his military career Reich was awarded with the Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Senior Army Aviator Wings, Airborne and Air Assault Badges. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Bronze Star Medal and an Air Medal with Valor device and the Combat Action Badge.