Two Fine Men

In November, we honor the memories of combat veterans in several ways: Darkhorse 25 becomes the coffee of the month. We briefly outline the lives and abrupt deaths of members of the 3/5 25: more than two dozen Marines from the Darkhorse Battalion killed within a few short months in Afghanistan in 2010 and 2011. And we report on the status of Darkhorse Lodge in Paris, Tennessee, near Kentucky Lake, the ambitious project to provide a place of rest, recuperation, and retreat for combat veterans. The Lodge receives a $5 donation for every pound of Holler Roast Darkhorse 25 coffee sold.

Lance Corporal Arden J. Buenagua

December 27, 1990 – November 24, 2010

Above: LCpl Buenagua’s official USMC graduation photo
Top of page: Arden Buenagua in civilian clothing, and his beflagged casket.

Arden grew up in San Jose, California and died only 19 years later. His military awards include the Purple Heart and Combat Action Ribbon.

His parents moved to the U.S. from the Philippines. Though his father eventually returned to their homeland, he arranged annual visits to the Philippines for his sons. Buenagua loved fun: fast cars, computers, music, video games, dancing, and the movies in the “Fast and the Furious” franchise. His friends report that he was “always there for people, always willing to talk, and always had a smile on his face.”

He joined the Marine Corps after high school, attended several combat training courses, and was deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Two months later, he was killed by an improvised explosive device.

Firefighters paid tribute to Buenagua’s sacrifice by lining nearly every overpass on I-280 from Milpitas to San Bruno while his funeral procession passed. The young man was buried at Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno, south of San Francisco.

Sergeant Ian M. Tawney

December 3, 1984 – October 16, 2010

Sgt. Tawney

Sergeant Ian M. Tawney was born in Oregon and attended Dallas High School, where he played soccer. He spent a year in Argentina as a foreign exchange student.

Besides being an enthusiastic Oregon State University Beavers fan, he enjoyed snowboarding, hunting, shooting and collecting guns, and motorcycling. At the time of his death at 25, Sergeant Tawney and his wife Ashley were expecting the birth of their daughter Claire.

He joined the Marine Corps in 2005, becoming a rifleman assigned to 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He also was deployed with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit to Okinawa, Japan. He joined 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines – The Darkhorse Battalion – in 2010 as Squad Leader for 1st Platoon, Company L. He graduated at the top of his squad leader course and was also a firearms and martial arts instructor.

Tawney’s September 2010 deployment to Afghanistan was his fifth overseas deployment. He was posthumously awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with “V” for Valor in recognition of his leadership, especially his actions leading a team on a mission to rescue another Marine. The certificate accompanying the medal, which described two separate incidents, reads “When another unit came under heavy enemy fire and were pinned down outside patrol base Almas, he (Tawney) immediately coordinated artillery fire onto the enemy and led a six-man team to successfully retrieve a wounded Marine.”

Tawney’s unit suffered heavy casualties during its deployment in Afghanistan – 25 Marines were killed and almost 200 wounded during the seven-month tour. Tawney served only a few weeks in the country before himself becoming the victim of an IED. On October 16, 2010, the day Tawney was killed by a roadside bomb, Mrs. Tawney said his attention was on giving orders trying to keep his men safe, even after he had been wounded. “That is so like Ian,” she said.

Other personal awards include the Purple Heart, Iraq Campaign Medal, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Medal, Global War on Terrorism Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, Navy Unit Commendation, and Combat Action Ribbon.

The city of Dallas, Oregon established the Sgt. Ian M. Tawney Memorial Park in the downtown area. Features include a children’s playground, a leg of the Rickreall Creek Trail system, and informational and commemorative signs.

Coming Soon: Darkhorse Lodge

We have been involved in one armed initiative or another for nearly my entire adult life. Many combat veterans return to civilian life horrified, wounded in body and mind, and in need of healing, retreat, rest, and recuperation. See the coverage Steve Walsh of All Things Considered gave to post-combat stress in the August 2021 episode of American Homefront Project, “Their Unit Lost Dozens Of Marines In Afghanistan. Now, Survivors Struggle With The War’s Legacy.”

Gretchen and Kirk Catherwood began to cope with their own grief by conceiving and, as of now, nearly completing a huge project to actively assist veterans. Please see “That Others May Live Free,” November 2020 and further information in “Speak Their Names,” September 2021.

What’s Ready

Bowman Hall dining room, deck, and showers are fully built and receiving interior finish items, furniture, and supplies. All five guest cabins and the building for staff are built. Two pontoon boats await users. Vans to take guests from lodge to lake have been ordered. The project has achieved several key construction inspection milestones. You can follow evolving progress here.

Underway, Needing Funding

With continuing good luck, the lodge can open in 2023. Just when depends on many uncontrollable factors. You can help!

Water filtration, internal fire sprinkler systems ($100,000), the wheelchair lift, payment for the Ford Transit vans that have been ordered, such necessary decor as sun- and cold-blocking curtains ($10,000 for the 7 buildings) and bathroom shelves, and a myriad of supplies and furniture are available for support!

Labor also is helpful: call ahead and help hang, paint, finish, assemble, … or commit your time to a scheduled volunteer work event.

Coffee of the Month Club


About Darkhorse 25 Coffee

Supporting veterans: $5 of each pound of Darkhorse 25 coffee goes to Darkhorse Lodge.

Cultivars: Caturri, Catuai
Processing Method: Pulped natural
Region: South of Minas Gerais Estate, Poco Fundo City
Harvest: May – September
Certification: Organic
Cupping Notes: Caramel, chocolate, brown sugar. Deep, creamy, and full-flavored
Altitude: 1200 m
Aroma: Nutty, almond, cocoa

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