Wednesday, October 1, 2003

Sergeant Tom Lach, 44, served at Gitmo


Intelligence analyst's top job raising 3 kids

By Rebecca Goodman
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[photo]
Sgt. Lach

BATAVIA - While growing up in Withamsville, Tom Lach and his brother and sister used to play in the cemetery at nearby Mount Moriah United Methodist Church under the watchful eye of caretaker Clarence Combs.

Today, Sgt. Lach, 44, an Army intelligence analyst and father of three, will be buried at Clarence E. Combs Mount Moriah Cemetery with full military honors.

The Batavia resident was killed Thursday night in a single-car accident on Interstate 275 near the Beechmont Avenue exit.

He was home on 12-day leave from his post at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where his job was to analyze information gleaned by interrogators from detainees accused of being al-Qaida or Taliban combatants.

A 1977 graduate of Walnut Hills High School, he received a degree in international affairs from the University of Cincinnati in 1981.

An Army reservist for 22 years, he was called to active duty for the first time in January.

His primary career was being a full-time father.

"He opted to stay home and take care of his children," said his sister, Sara Lach Gerhardt of Cherry Grove.

While his wife worked full time as a teacher for the West Clermont School District, he took care of Thomas, 19, Julia, 17 and Timothy, 15.

"His main focus was his children," his sister said. "They worshiped him and vice versa. He was always involved in all of their activities. He was a wonderful father."

Sgt. Lach also had a passion for helping needy children.

For 30 years, he supported the Christian Children's Fund. When asked what he wanted for birthdays, he always said he'd like a donation for the organization.

About 10 years ago, Sgt. Lach took a job as a deliveryman for the LaRosa's pizza parlor in Anderson Township. The staff there expressed shock at his sudden loss, according to general manager Ken Annis of Anderson Township.

"He was a very nice gentleman," Annis said, "well liked by his customers and peers."

Sgt. Lach was one of only three members of his Army unit - all local residents - sent to Cuba. The rest are stationed in Richmond, Va.

They plan to attend his funeral today.

"Although this work took Tom away from his family, he was proud to serve his country and felt that his job was very important," his sister said.

In addition to his sister and children, survivors include his wife of 21 years, Kathleen Doyle Lach; his parents, Gerald and Joyce Lach of Cherry Grove, and his brother, Douglas Charles Lach, also of Cherry Grove.

The funeral is 10:30 a.m. today at Guardian Angels Church, 6531 Beechmont Ave. in Mount Washington.

Burial will be at the Clarence E. Combs Mount Moriah Cemetery in Withamsville.

Memorials: Christian Children's Fund, 2821 Emerywood Parkway, Richmond, VA 23261; or the FreeStore/FoodBank, 112 E. Liberty St., Cincinnati 45210.

E-mail rgoodman@enquirer.com




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