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  1. #1
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    Aggie Bonfire (Graphic picture)

    Might not be a big matter to most Cyclones, but if you get a chance...take the time to hug your loved ones.

    10 years ago this morning (2:42 am), A&M's Bonfire stack collapsed, taking the lives of 12 students. My cousin was a sophomore there and had taken me (as a 10 year old) to see the 1998 Bonfire--one of those unforgettable things, and sadly only got to witness one time. He had worked on the stack that night but returned to his dorm around 1:30 am. He had worked side-by-side on the stack with those lost, including a guy from one of his classes--Tim Kerlee. My cousin forwarded this to me this morning, it was in a local newspaper just days after the collapse. WARNING: The picture might not be for all to see.

    The twelve young people who died were truly remarkable kids. They were scholars, student athletes, active in Boy Scouts, 4-H, Church groups,they were leaders. If you had to chose a dozen students to represent the best of Texas A&M, you probably wouldn't do much better than these.

    I have just learned about Timothy Doran Kerlee, Jr. He was the twelfth student to die, when his life support was disconnected last Friday evening. Let me tell you about this amazing kid.

    Tim graduated last year from Germantown High School in Germantown,Tennessee. He was an Eagle Scout, graduated third in his class, and was elected to his High School Hall of Fame. He was a student athlete, and a member of the National Honor Society. He was active in the youth group and drama club at his Methodist Church.

    He was actively recruited by Texas A&M, and when he enrolled he tested out of his entire freshman year. That is how this 17 year-old could be classified as a sophomore. Tim's father said that he was thrilled to be at A&M, and especially excited about bonfire.

    When the stack collapsed, his pelvis was crushed, his arm was broken, and his (organs badly damaged.)

    On the front page of Friday's Dallas Morning News is a large photo of the collapsed stack taken during the early part of the rescue effort. You can see a team working at the base of the logs to save a trapped student. About five feet above the rescue team is Tim Kerlee, reclining on a pile of logs, propped up on one elbow. Unless you look carefully at the photo you will probably not notice that his legs are laying in an odd position.

    What was happening,according to the rescue teams, was that Kerlee was directing the teams to other students trapped in the stack. He kept telling them that he was O.K., and he directed rescuers to at least five other students before he allowed them to take him down from the stack.

    He was taken into emergency surgery, and when they opened him up they found his organs so badly damaged that they couldn't identify much of what they saw. They closed him up, wrapped him in a sheet to hold him together, and placed on life support. He lived long enough to see and speak to his parents. He was aware that he was dying and asked to be removed from life support. When his parents asked him why he wanted to, he asked them why he should fight for a few more days of life when he could be in Heaven with Jesus right now. Well, he got his wish.

    I feel sorry that I never had a chance to know Tim Kerlee, but I praise God for kids like Tim Kerlee. If you had to pick a twelfth man you couldn't do much better.

    --Fred Maddox




  2. #2
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    Re: Aggie Bonfire (Graphic picture)

    It's absolutely incredible when you are reminded of the true nobility that people are capable of.



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    Re: Aggie Bonfire (Graphic picture)

    Ouch!

    I looked at the pic before reading the post, and noticed the contortion. Thought that HAD to be two people.


    Last edited by DaddyMac; 11-18-2009 at 12:09 PM.

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    Re: Aggie Bonfire (Graphic picture)

    Wow, thats a touching story...

    "When his parents asked him why he wanted to, he asked them why he should fight for a few more days of life when he could be in Heaven with Jesus right now"


    When Prepared, Fear No One.

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    Re: Aggie Bonfire (Graphic picture)

    I have never seen the A&M bonfire, and I know it is a big deal there, but I never understood the logic behind burning a tall pile of logs. At the least, that is fuel to be sold. I have always thought that that collapse should never have happened because it shouldn't have been stacked in the first place.



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    Re: Aggie Bonfire (Graphic picture)

    Aggie Bonfire - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


    It's a tradition stemming back to 1909, and a part of the rivalry with the Texas Longhorns. In my cousins words, Bonfire isn't so much about the burn as it is about the building--the bonds formed among students, the hours upon hours of manual labor that brings the student body together. There are no written rules and regulations to Bonfire or how Bonfire is built. Everything that needs to be known is passed down orally from seniors to juniors, who become next year's senior leaders, and so on for years.

    The class of 2003 would have been the first class to graduate A&M without a burning Bonfire, but they resurrected it in fall 2002 (off-campus) so that the tradition would not be lost forever. They build it in memory of those lost, and as a school spirit and bonding experience.



  7. #7
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    Re: Aggie Bonfire (Graphic picture)

    I dont buy the oral tradition part- after reading that wiki (thank you) it appears they have completely changed the design to be safer (all logs involved touch the ground- and the steel pipe support) which means that they probably have engineers involved. The article also points to possible drinking involved in the collapse. I am just saying that when it happened, I remember thinking that it was a foolish cluster-**** accident.



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    Re: Aggie Bonfire (Graphic picture)

    Everything has risks. I would bet that more Texas A&M students since this tradition started have died in car accidents than in bon-fire colapses.

    Make it safer if need be, but don't end something that meant so much to so many students/fans for many years.



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    Re: Aggie Bonfire (Graphic picture)

    Quote Originally Posted by CyLoboClone View Post
    I dont buy the oral tradition part- after reading that wiki (thank you) it appears they have completely changed the design to be safer (all logs involved touch the ground- and the steel pipe support) which means that they probably have engineers involved. The article also points to possible drinking involved in the collapse. I am just saying that when it happened, I remember thinking that it was a foolish cluster-**** accident.
    From an article I read in the local paper in the last couple days, how to build it was, historically, based on "oral tradition". It is no longer that way.

    Here's an interesting video.
    Timm Doolen, a 1991 Aggie graduate, edited and produced a video about bonfire on behalf of the Former Journalism Student Association in 2000. The video was done as a class film project while he was working on his master's degree at the University of North Texas. Kelly Brown, The Eagle's managing editor, was his research assistant on the production. This video is a portion of Doolen's work.
    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8s5UfRTUj2I"]YouTube - Explaining from the inside: Bonfire[/ame]


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    The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves Orcs. ~ John Rogers

  10. #10
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    Re: Aggie Bonfire (Graphic picture)

    In 100 years Iowa State Students will be looking back into the history books and say drinking to excess and rioting for VIESHA is part of our heritage. We must carry on the tradition to celebrate our university.



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    Re: Aggie Bonfire (Graphic picture)

    Quote Originally Posted by jtdoyle1 View Post
    In 100 years Iowa State Students will be looking back into the history books and say drinking to excess and rioting for VIESHA is part of our heritage. We must carry on the tradition to celebrate our university.
    Bingo. Anything that is done carelessly for a long enough time will become tradition. Building a huge bonfire like they did without a professional engineer's oversight was an overlooked fact because Bonfire became such a "tradition". This tragedy should have never happened.

    BTW, when I was in College Station a few weeks ago, we went to see the Bonfire Memorial, and it is a very well done memorial.



  12. #12
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    Re: Aggie Bonfire (Graphic picture)

    It was a tragedy....being down in College Station earlier this year I met some of the nicest college kids I've ever met.



  13. #13
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    Re: Aggie Bonfire (Graphic picture)

    My Brother-in-Law died in a car accident, so I know about the most probable death in a lifetime. The reason I don't sky dive and the reason I dont ****-about in a woodpile is the same- especially if others are drinking. Would you ride backseat in a DWI? My Grandfather did, and it almost killed him like the other three in the car too. My point is, why not let 40 crane crews build the most awesome structure and burn it... or sell it-NOT the innocent underclassmen *learning* from the upperclassmen.



  14. #14
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    Re: Aggie Bonfire (Graphic picture)

    P.S. I am a little loaded... apologies to the OP.



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