Chance Meeting Gives UW Bothell Student and Gold Star Mother a Special Bond

Chance Meeting Gives UW Bothell Student and Gold Star Mother a Special Bond

Published: November 8, 2013

The UW Bothell Student and Alumni Veterans Day event began with a speech from U.S. Navy Veteran and Chancellor Wolf Yeigh. His brief speech set the stage for a serendipitous encounter between Myra Rintamaki and UW Bothell student Derek Lane.

Rintamaki arrived at the Student and Alumni Veterans Reception to remember and honor her late son Steven as well as student, alumni, faculty and staff veterans. Steven Rintamaki died while serving on active duty in Iraq in 2004. She organizes a non-profit Veteran’s Support organization called American Gold Star Mothers, for mothers who have lost a child while serving in the U.S. military. The organization provides support and services for active military duty, National Guard and reservists, veterans, and fallen heroes.

At the reception, Rintamaki met Derek Lane, a current UW Bothell student who was a logistics officer in the Marine Corps. Lane served with Rintamaki’s son Steven in the Third Battalion, First Marine Regiment. When Lane returned from active duty in 2006, he attempted to contact family members of fallen soldiers deployed in his battalion. He tried to contact Rintamaki, “I couldn’t find a contact number for her and was unable to connect with her, until now.

"When Chancellor Yeigh announced that Rintamaki would be at the assembly, I was very excited," says Lane. "Marines take care of their own.” Myra describes the encounter, “My son was in infantry combat and Derek is in logistics; they were part of an amazing battalion that cared and supported one another.” They did more than exchange phone numbers on November 6, they embodied an ethic of caring and support that is extended to the community and manifests the kind of remembrance and support that Veterans Day exemplifies.