PHOENIX -- The chance to wear uniforms adorned with camouflage on Memorial Day carries extra meaning for Astros manager A.J. Hinch, who took time Monday to remember a former roommate killed in action.
Stephen Reich, who was a roommate of Hinch on Team USA in 1993, was killed in Afghanistan on June 28, 2005. He was 34 years old.
Reich attended the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., pitched for Team USA at the 1993 World University Games and briefly thrived for a low-level affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles after fulfilling two years of his military obligation. But Reich, a helicopter pilot, went on to serve four tours of duty in Afghanistan, and he was killed in action during a mission to rescue a four-man Navy SEAL team.
"I think of all the men and women that serve and how special we have it to pay a small tribute and wear a uniform when they're out defending our freedom," Hinch said. "I think of friends of mine like Steven Reich, who died in a helicopter crash. I think of countless numbers of people who have been out in battle and created the opportunities that we have.
"We have no idea what they go through in order to serve our country. We think we do through sensationalism, through movies and media and stories. Today and every day, we're really thankful they do what they do."
Reich was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and the Meritorious Service Medal.
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.