DEA Agent Killed In Afghanistan Remembered

Michael Weston was among the three agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration who was killed recently in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan. Graduating from Harvard Law School would provide bragging rights for many, but Weston was different. He skipped the usual path of joining a top law firm, instead choosing to serve as a U.S. Marine and later a DEA agent.

Copyright © 2009 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

Now, we're going to remember someone who lost his life in Afghanistan. Michael Weston was an agent of the Drug Enforcement Administration. He was one of three members of the DEA killed last month in a helicopter crash.

NPR's Habiba Nosheen has this story.

HABIBA NOSHEEN: Michael Weston's journey to a DEA career followed an unusual path. After graduating from Stanford University, he headed to Harvard Law School. Although he excelled there, his mother, Judy Zarit, says law was never his calling.

Ms. JUDY ZARIT: So he got to Harvard Law and about a week later, he calls me. He says, this is just about helping rich people hold on to their money. I said, it is and you don't have to stay. And he said, no, I started it. I'll finish.

NOSHEEN: Weston worked hard to distance himself from his impressive academic record. His mother says he even tried to fake his death in an attempt to stop receiving mail from the Harvard Alumni Association.

Ms. ZARIT: But they didn't buy it.

(Soundbite of laughter)

NOSHEEN: On his way home for the summer after his first year in law school, Weston found himself sitting next to a U.S. Marine on the plane. By the end of that flight, he had made up his mind. Weston joined the Marine Corps as a reservist while in law school and trained during the summers.

In 2003, he went to Iraq as a military lawyer. Right after he returned, he joined the DEA where he investigated major drug crimes.

Mr. JAMES GREGOREUS (Special Agent, Drug Enforcement Agency) Mike was standing up in front here many a time, drawing on the board and describing what we were going to be doing in a certain operation.

NOSHEEN: James Gregoreus was Weston's boss. He's pointing to a large white board. This is where Weston would draw up the plans for a major drug bust. Gregoreus says Weston was an exceptional agent who closed numerous high-profile cases.

Mr. GREGOREUS: Somebody with that kind of academic and military background - that was a first for me and probably a first for DEA.

NOSHEEN: Weston was an achiever but he was never one to brag. The only thing that hung on Weston's office wall was his diploma from his nursery school.

Mr. DAMON STEVENS: That is Mike right there and this is us skiing.

NOSHEEN: Damon Stevens sits on the floor of his Arlington, Virginia, home surrounded by piles of photos of him and Weston. The two men were best friends and served together in Iraq.

Mr. STEVENS: I have the invitation to Mike and Cindy's wedding.

NOSHEEN: This May, Weston married Cindy Tidler. Stevens says the invitation is a perfect example of Weston's humor and wit.

Mr. STEVENS: If you have children, consider the following. Do you generally take your child out in public on a leash? Have three or more of your child's teachers resigned this year? Does your child's probation officer prohibit them from attending public gatherings? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, we'd suggest leaving them at home.

NOSHEEN: In July, he went on assignment to Afghanistan trying to clamp down on the opium trade. Three months later, he was killed.

When Weston's body arrived in Dover Air Force Base, President Obama was there to pay his respects, and thousands showed up for his memorial earlier this month in Quantico, Virginia. That's ironic, Damon Stevens says, because he hated the spotlight.

Mr. STEVENS: I know he'd be fairly agitated.

NOSHEEN: Stevens says instead, Weston would have wanted just a few of his friends to get together at a bar, laugh and make fun of him. He says they plan to do that very soon.

Habiba Nosheen, NPR News, Washington.

(Soundbite of music)

Copyright © 2009 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.