Receiving condolences for their son, Capt. Mark Stubenhofer who was killed in action in Iraq in December, has become an everyday occurrence for Norman and Sallie Stubenhofer of Springfield.
One tribute in particular, however, caught them by surprise, and came in the form of a gesture from a congressman.
U.S. Rep. Tom Davis (R-11), whose district includes Springfield, authored a House Resolution that would rename the Stubenhofer’s hometown post office after their son.
Norm Stubenhofer, Mark’s father, said he met Davis at a ceremony at West Springfield High earlier this year, and Davis hinted that something like this might be in the works.
"He said he didn’t know for sure if he could do it, but he was going to try to get something done. We didn’t hear anything more about it," said Stubenhofer. "Then all of a sudden, out of the blue, we got a call from his staff, who told us to watch (cable television channel) C-SPAN that day. So we watched it."
What Stubenhofer and his wife Sallie watched was the vote on April 6 to pass H.R. 1460, which would rename the post office branch at 6200 Rolling Road in Springfield — less than two miles from their house — after their son, Capt. Mark Stubenhofer, who died in combat on Dec. 7, 2004 outside Baghdad, Iraq. He was 30 years old and left behind a wife, Patty, and three children. Stubenhofer served two tours in Iraq, and was awarded two Bronze Star medals, the Purple Heart, the Meritorious Service Medal and two Army Commendation Medals.
"We owe Capt. Mark Stubenhofer, and all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the United States, a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid," said Davis. "While we pay homage to fallen heroes like Mark with memorials or post offices, the most fitting tribute is the enduring memory of their lives."
Drew Crockett, Davis’ press secretary, said Monday that the resolution will next head to the Senate for passage, and ultimately to the President of the United States. He said Davis’ office is in contact with Virginia’s Senators, to get their support for the resolution.
Walt Honchar, Postmaster for the Springfield District, said he hadn’t heard about the announcement but agreed with the decision.
"The post office serves the community. When something like this happens in our community, we kind of take it to heart. The renaming helps us connect with the customers we serve, and I think it’s a good thing," he said.
Stubenhofer said he and his wife weren't expecting the flow of memorials to their son.
"We’re pretty much overwhelmed by the support Mark is receiving. I think it’s really tremendous," he said.
WHILE NEWS about the post office reached the Stubenhofers, several other organizations have memorialized Mark Stubenhofer, including the West Springfield High baseball program, where he played infield for two seasons.
Before Tuesday’s game against West Potomac, former coach Ron Tugwell and principal Dr. David Smith unveiled a plaque that will remain at the field in honor of Mark Stubenhofer. In addition, Norm Stubenhofer threw out the first pitch at the West Springfield Little League’s season opener on Saturday, April 9.
"This is like Mark month," said Norm Stubenhofer.
In late March, Clemson University, Mark Stubenhofer’s alma mater, awarded the first annual Mark Stubenhofer Memorial Award to one of its cadets in the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program. Stubenhofer graduated from Clemson in 1996, after enlisting in the Army through its ROTC program at the college. At the ceremony, students from Clemson also gave the Stubenhofers a check from the student body to contribute to Mark’s Hope, a foundation started by his widow Patty and sister Erin Murray, to donate school supplies, toys and sports equipment to Iraqi children through Stubenhofer’s former regiment, the 41st Infantry Division.
"It’s been a very touching experience. He’s definitely not been forgotten," said Norm Stubenhofer.
The Mark’s Hope foundation has already shipped 12 boxes of supplies to Iraq and will continue accepting donations at Messiah United Methodist Church in Springfield, through Monday, April 18, which would have been Mark’s 31st birthday. Financial donations, which will help pay for shipping costs, are also accepted through Commerce Bank, P.O. Box 2480, 288 Highway 202/31, Flemington, NJ 08822.