Role at OSU: Student and USMC ROTC Cadet
Survived By: Wife
Date of Loss: 25 October 1983
Accident Type: AH-1 Cobra
Country of Loss: Grenada
First Lieutenant Jeffrey R. Scharver was more than just a man who wore the uniform; he was the best kind of man who would do anything for others, which included giving up his own life to save that of another.
Even before joining the Marine Corps, Lt. Scharver led a very active and successful life. In high school, Lt. Scharver played on both the soccer and hockey teams, even serving as the captain of the latter. He grew up listening to his former Marine grandfather tell stories of his time in the service. Hearing these stories, combined with Lt. Scharver’s desire to be a pilot is what motivated him to become a Marine.
After graduating from high school, Lt. Scharver accepted a Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) scholarship and attended the college of his choice, The Ohio State University. Once here, Lt. Scharver joined the Naval Drill Team, participated in intramural sports, and lifted with the Ohio State Weight Club, all the while maintaining his academic and NROTC duties . Lt. Scharver’s mother recalls all of the trips he took with his fellow ROTC buddies, anything from jump school in Fort Benning, Georgia to going to Hawaii. Lt. Scharver had a spark for life and lived it to the fullest, seizing every opportunity that came his way.
The day Lt. Scharver graduated from The Ohio State University he commissioned into the United States Marine Corps. After completing further Officer Training in 1980, Lt. Scharver married his high school sweetheart in January of 1981. Later that year, on 2 October 1981, Lt. Scharver earned his wings and an assignment to the AH-1 Cobra helicopter which was his lifelong dream.
Lt. Scharver had a natural ability to fly and quickly earned the respect of his fellow pilots. He was so well loved, that there are currently nine children who are his name sake, including the son of Lieutenant General Jon Davis, Lt. Scharver’s best friend through flight school.
Lt. Scharver had a ‘glass half full’ mentality about life - positive and adventurous. Two months before he was deployed to Beirut, Mr. and Mrs. Scharver visited him in North Carolina. His mother recalls going hunting for sea shells and clams and fishing along the North Carolina shore. It never even “entered [Mrs. Scharver’s] mind” that he “might be in combat and not return. He was always so self assured.”
In October of 1983, Lt. Scharver was en route to Beirut when the barracks there were bombed, killing 250 service men there. Immediately, Lt. Scharver’s ship was diverted to Grenada for a special mission. After one of the Marine helicopters (also a Cobra) was shot down over St. George’s Bay, Grenada, Lt. Scharver flew to provide the downed pilots with covering fire. The pilots both made it out of the burning wreckage, however, one of the Marines was shot and killed by enemy fire. Moments after the second Marine pilot made it to safety, Lt. Scharver’s Cobra was shot down, taking his life. It was there on October 25, 1983 that First Lieutenant Jeffrey Scharver fulfilled his mission, saving the life of another pilot while sacrificing his own.
Mrs. Vivian Scharver recalled hearing that day that a helicopter had gone down, but didn’t know if it was her son. The family only knew that a Cobra went down over Grenada; they didn’t know Lt. Scharver had been diverted to Grenada because it hadn’t been in the media at that time. Mrs. Scharver remembers sitting up all night with her husband, waiting for a call from Lt. Scharver’s young wife; she called around 4am and confirmed that the Cobra involved in the crash was indeed Lt. Scharver’s and he was killed in the crash. Mrs. Vivian Scharver describes being shocked at the news because Grenada “was such a silent little war,” and the family did not know he was in Grenada in the first place.
Lt. Scharver’s mother describes trying to go on with normal life as “one of the hardest things [she’s] ever had to do." Mr. and Mrs. Scharver had two other children to continue raising, a daughter two years younger and a son five years younger than Lt. Scharver. One of the hardest things for Mrs. Scharver to cope with was the idea that people would forget Lt. Scharver and his sacrifice. To prevent this, she joined the American Gold Star Mothers, an organization for mothers who have lost a son or daughter while serving in the military. She has since started in a chapter in Rhode Island and North Carolina.
Lt. Scharver’s actions were described by the Secretary of the Navy John Lehman as showing “extraordinary courage, uncommon valor, and steadfast devotion to duty in the face of danger.” Because of Lt. Scharver’s heroic actions, he has been awarded a myriad of things: there is a room at The Ohio State University christened the ‘Scharver Room’; there is a United States Marine Corps Reserves Training Center in Johnstown, Pennsylvania named for Lt. Scharver, and the naming ceremony was attended by his best friend, General Jon Davis, who also spoke during the ceremony; Lt. Scharver was inducted into the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame in 2006; in 2011 Hangar 4108 was dedicated and named for Lt. Scharver and General Davis attended and spoke at this dedication as well.
The story of First Lieutenant Jeffrey Scharver’s death is just a reflection of the way Lt. Scharver lived his life; in the face of opposition, he always went above and beyond his duty, putting others before himself without a thought to his own personal safety. Success in a person’s life cannot be measured by the awards they receive, but rather the people they leave behind; Lt. Scharver will never be forgotten by any of the people whose life he touched.
- Mackenzie Wright, 2013