In May of 1992, Guy R. “Bear” Barattieri achieved the singular distinction of graduating last in his class at West Point. Bear was aptly named, an imposingly large but extremely friendly cadet with a crooked smile whom everyone loved. He was a high-school football star, playing outside linebacker on the 1986 undefeated Purcell Marian Ohio State champion team. In 1988 he was offered a full scholarship to Penn State to play under Coach Joe Paterno, but he turned it down. Bear had always dreamed of being a soldier, and he took his gridiron skills to the United States Military Academy.
Bear played on the West Point varsity football squad as a plebe, having been an all-state linebacker at Purcell. However, in the first season he injured his back and neck and was forbidden by Army doctors to ever play football again. It was a severe blow to Bear, since the sport had always been a big part of his life. But, as his classmate Chris Jenks relates, “demonstrating the lack of intellect and common sense notable amongst Army Rugers, decided that technically the doctors never said he couldn’t play Rugby, he started playing rugby our yearling year, playing a devastating wing forward.”
As with many West Point goats
, Bear was a fun loving, charismatic, and resourceful cadet who would rather find ways to have adventures than to study. Classmate Dana Rucinski said he was “one of the most cheerful, friendly, positive people at school. You couldn’t help but smile when talking to Bear, and nothing ever seemed to get him down — no matter what his academic worry of the week!” His grades kept him out of sports for his firstie (senior) year, but he hung on and graduated on time, albeit at the foot of his class. As is traditional, he received the loudest applause, and was given a dollar by each of the other 961 graduating members of the Class of ‘92. Some of his rugby pals had plans to help Bear spend his windfall that summer at Ft. Benning when they went for the Infantry Officers Basic Course, but by the time he showed up the money was long gone.
Bear served first as an infantry officer, then became a Green Beret with the First Special Forces Group out of Ft. Lewis, Washington. He deployed to the Balkans and served with distinction, winning the respect of all who came into contact with him. Bear left the Army as a Captain in August 2000 to join the Seattle police department. He was much more serious about law-enforcement training than he had been about West Point and became president of his police academy class. But Bear kept a hand in the military as a Major in the 1st battalion, 19th Special Forces Group of the Washington State National Guard. Bear’s unit was activated following the 9/11 attacks, and in 2002 he found himself in Kuwait preparing for the eventual attack on Iraq. Bear fought bravely in OIF. His team was attached to the 101st Airborne Division and led the way on the advance towards Baghdad in March 2003. Bear was credited with capturing three of the Iraqi leaders featured on the famous “deck of cards,” and was recognized with a Bronze Star citation.