Before he was deployed to Iraq, Sgt. Jan Argonish, a member of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, was sent to Matamoras to help in flood relief efforts after the Delaware River swelled beyond its banks. While there, a woman ran up to him and the other members of his group shouting, "They're drowning."
The woman explained that her two horses were trapped in a barn and were drowning in the rising flood waters. Try as she might, she couldn't get them out on her own. Argonish and five other soldiers went, got rope and a rowboat, and carefully brought the horses to safety.
After Argonish was killed by a sniper in Afghanistan on August 27, 2007, his father, Mike received a letter.
"That lady sent me a letter and a card and pictures of the horses and them coming out with them," he said. "I never saw those pictures before that. I knew the story but never saw the pictures."
"I am very proud of him," he continued. "I've always been proud of all of my children because they have all done good things in their lives and with their lives. Jan was where he wanted to be when he was killed."
This Sunday, Sept. 9, at the Dalton Carnival Grounds, the fifth annual Sgt. Jan Argonish Ride will take place, welcoming both motorcyclists and classic car enthusiasts in an attempt to raise money for wounded veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. Last year's recipient was Sturges resident Nick Staback and, in 2010, funds raised assisted Army Specialist Kodi Tyler of South Carolina, who was wounded in the ambush that killed Argonish.
Argonish, a Peckville native, was a 1999 graduate of Valley View High School, having joined the National Guard as a junior. Besides his parents and siblings, Argonish was survived by his fiancée, Talia Walsh, and his son, Jakub. Argonish was killed during his third deployment.
This year's ride will go through downtown Dalton, pass through Argonish's hometown of Peckville and then through Olyphant and Throop to Marshwood Road and Jessup Mountain. The ride will pass by a mural of Argonish on a retaining wall that is part of the Casey Highway that contains a silhouette of Argonish with his son's handprint on his boot as well as a butterfly, which his family and friends associate with him because of the two white butterflies that flew over his coffin the day of his funeral.
Mike Argonish explained that having this ride in honor of Jan helps those closest to him to move forward without forgetting his memory.
"They say time heals all wounds but you never forget; I think about him every day," he said. "The important thing is, as long as you're going forward, you don't have to go fast, you just have to go forward. Being stuck in a rut is no good for anyone."
Registration for the ride will begin at 8 a.m. and continue until 11 a.m. The ride will begin at noon. Cost is $20 for passengers and $10 for riders. Following the ride, a celebration of Argonish's life will be held at the Dalton Carnival Grounds, including food, drink, Chinese auction and basket raffles. Live entertainment will be provided by Graces Downfall, Mace in Dickson, Old Friends, John "Guido" Phillips, and Nowhere Slow.
"He is helping more people now which, in itself, is an amazing thing," Mike Argonish said. "He loved helping people."
Tax-deductible donations can also be made to the Scranton Area Foundation, where a fund has been set up in Argonish's name to help benefit various charities that he would have supported. Donations are accepted on the ride's website, www.jansride.org.
If you know of a military veteran who has been injured in the line of duty who could use help from funds raised from the ride, contact Talia Walsh at firstname.lastname@example.org.