2nd BCT's homecoming: Remembering Iron Brigade’s fallen
Spc. Carl A. Eason4th Battalion, 27th Field Artillery Regiment The last brigade soldier to not make it home, Eason, 29, of Texas, was known as a consummate professional who took the inevitable challenges of war in stride. He died on Oct. 23 after a roadside bomb went off near his vehicle.
Maj. David G. Taylor Jr.2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment The highest-ranking member of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team to be killed during the deployment, everybody seemed to have their own special story to tell after meeting the 37-year-old North Carolina native. Taylor died on Oct. 22 in Baghdad from injuries suffered when a roadside bomb detonated near his vehicle.
Staff Sgt. Kevin M. Witte2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment This 27-year-old was one of those noncommissioned officers who led by example. At the same time, the Minnesota native believed that soldiers make the leader, not the other way around. Witte died on Oct. 20 in Baghdad from injuries suffered when a roadside bomb went off near his vehicle during a patrol.
Spc. Jose R. Perez1st Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment Known as his own man, even while fighting alongside his comrades, friends recalled Perez as the kind of guy who would stick to his guns, no matter what others around him were saying. The 21-year-old California native also was famous among his fellow soldiers for a devilish grin that would spread across his face before he cracked a joke. He died on Oct. 18 in Ramadi from injuries suffered as a result of enemy small-arms fire.
Pfc. Shane R. Austin1st Battalion, 35th Armor Regiment This 19-year-old joined up right out of high school, and worked hard at whatever task he was handed. The quiet and unassuming Kansas native was proud to be part of the military’s legacy and dreamed of making the Army a career. He died on Oct. 8 in Ramadi after being injured by enemy grenade fire.
Cpl. Luis E. Tejeda2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment A 20-year-old with an infectious smile who was only about a month away from his birthday, Tejeda longed to be reunited with his family in California. He died on Sept. 30 from injuries suffered during a roadside bomb blast in Hit.
Staff Sgt. Jose A. Lanzarin2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment This 28-year-old Texas native was tough on the outside but quick to let friends into the world he loved. He was good with advice and often helped others see the positive in a given situation. He was killed on Sept. 26 in Ramadi when a roadside bomb went off near his vehicle during combat operations.
Sgt. Allan R. Bevington40th Engineer Battalion Bevington, originally from Pennsylvania, was a 22-year-old who would jump into any mission that was asked of him. Comrades remembered him as the happy-go-lucky type who had just been made an NCO. Bevington died Sept. 21 of injuries suffered in Ramadi, when a homemade bomb detonated near him during combat operations.
Sgt. Aaron A. Smith4th Battalion, 27th Field Artillery Regiment Smith, 31, a native Ghanaian who made his home in Texas, was that favorite soldier that every unit has. He’d never stop bragging to his soldiers about his young son, AJ. Smith died Sept. 14 in Baghdad from injuries suffered when a dump truck loaded with explosives went off near a Baghdad substation he was guarding.
Spc. Jeffrey P. Shaffer2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment Shaffer joined the Army shortly after Sept. 11, 2001. Before his death, the 21-year-old had said he was fighting in Iraq so that his two brothers would not have to, and that he would stay until the mission was completed. He died Sept. 13 in Ramadi, of injuries suffered when a roadside bomb blew up near his Bradley.
Sgt. John A. Carroll1st Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment Known for his sense of humor and his love of outdoor activities, the 26-year-old Pennsylvania native enlisted to gain a sense of direction in his life. Carroll never quite knew what to say when his military service was brought up. He felt like he was just doing his job. He died on Sept. 6 in Ramadi of injuries suffered while on foot patrol.
Staff Sgt. Jeffrey S. Loa1st Battalion, 35th Armor Regiment To hear his buddies tell it, the 32-year-old Hawaii native was the guy in the unit who was always smiling and keeping spirits up. But underneath that humor was a deep and thoughtful man who loved his family and his country. Loa died on Aug. 16 in Ramadi of injuries suffered when a homemade bomb went off while he was on foot patrol.
Staff Sgt. Tracy L. Melvin2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment An avid military history buff who could pull obscure facts out of the air at will, Melvin loved his job so much that he told friends he was hesitant about being promoted to an E-7 because he loved being a squad leader so much. The 31-year-old Washington state native died of injuries sustained on Aug. 6 when a roadside bomb went off near his vehicle during combat operations in Ramadi.
Spc. Hai Ming Hsia2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment An older soldier with a wide range of knowledge from politics to medicine, Hsia, 37, was someone whose core goodness came through after just a short amount of time spent with him. Hsia, a New York native, was killed on Aug. 1 during combat operations in Ramadi.
Staff Sgt. Christopher W. Swanson2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment Known as a highly skilled squad leader whose future potential in the Army was without limit, the 25-year-old Maryland native was known to be ambitious, aggressive, determined, and most importantly, highly competent. Swanson died on July 22 in Ramadi from enemy sniper fire while leading his squad.
Spc. Manuel J. Holguin2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment Some soldiers don't warrant constant supervision and reminders. They just do the job until it’s done. Holguin, a 21-year-old California native, was one of those soldiers. He also enjoyed playing the role of the “tough as nails” soldier, but had a good and caring heart. Holguin died on July 15 in Baghdad from injuries sustained when his foot patrol encountered enemy fire and a homemade bomb.
Cpl. Ryan J. Clark40th Engineer Battalion A baseball fanatic who was always ready for a pick-up game of softball, the 19-year-old California native was also a religious man who relied on his faith during deployment. He died of injuries sustained on June 17 in Ramadi, when a roadside bomb went off near his vehicle during combat operations.
Spc. Michael J. Potocki1st Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment A selfless guy who was known to do anything for his comrades, Potocki, 21, of Maryland, had provided a voice of reassurance before his death for a fellow soldier who had a seizure while in Iraq. He died on June 26 of injuries sustained in Hit, when he was shot during combat operations.
Sgt. Reyes Ramirez40th Engineer Battalion The 23-year-old noncommissioned officer out of Texas was known as a fun-loving guy who also managed to get the job done at the same time. Before the deployment, his squad won the Sapper Stakes, a competition that tests the skill and ingenuity of engineer squads. He died in Ramadi on June 17, when a roadside bomb exploded near his vehicle during combat operations.
Spc. Robert L. Jones40th Engineer Battalion The 22-year-old Oregon native was known for his candor and practical jokes, such as turning a bunkmate’s rack upside down while he slept. Before his second and final deployment, Jones made a point of setting first-time soldiers straight, advising them not to get overly excited and forget about the dangers that would come with the mission. Jones died on June 17 in Ramadi, when a roadside bomb blew up near his vehicle during combat operations.
1st Lt. Scott M. Love2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment This 32-year-old Tennessee son was known as an accomplished and seasoned leader who spoke Arabic, was quick to laugh and slow to anger. After receiving his commission, Love was known as the kind of leader who wasn’t hesitant to get his hands dirty working with his soldiers. Love died June 7 in Ramadi, when a roadside bomb detonated near his vehicle during combat operations.
Pfc. David N. Crombie2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment Before his final mission, which he chose to go on even though he could have sat it out, he wrote his family about how he had been scared after treating a soldier who had been shot. But the 19-year-old from Nevada persevered. He died on June 7 in Ramadi, when a roadside bomb went off near his vehicle during combat operations.
Spc. Brett L. Tribble2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment The 20-year-old from Texas joined the Army simply looking for a better life. Once in, he enjoyed the discipline and mentorship, once saying that the Army is “like going to the gym and getting paid for it.” He asked that nobody feel sorry for him if he didn’t make it back from Iraq. He died June 3 in Ramadi, from injuries sustained the day before when a roadside bomb detonated near his vehicle during combat operations.
Capt. Douglas A. Dicenzo2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment A gifted and natural born leader, this 30-year-old from New Hampshire didn’t have to push soldiers hard. They followed him naturally. He also was quite athletic, riding his bike a long distance to work and then working out with his soldiers. Dicenzo died on May 25 in Baghdad, after a roadside bomb went off near his vehicle during combat operations.
Spc. Robert E. Blair2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment Blair, 22, of Florida, was a tough yet gentle guy who called himself a “personal smile trainer.” He also was an avid rodeo fan who competed in European rodeo events. Blair died on May 25 in Baghdad, when a roadside bomb blew up near his vehicle.
Sgt. Israel Devora Garcia2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment This 23-year-old called Texas home and was an honor student at his high school who excelled during four years of Junior ROTC. He planned to study law enforcement and join the FBI once he got out of the Army. He died April 1 in Baghdad, when a homemade bomb detonated while he was on foot patrol.
Staff Sgt. Darrell P. Clay2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment A full-time soldier since the 1990s who came from a military family, this 34-year-old North Carolina native was on his third deployment to Iraq. He died on April 1 in Baghdad when a roadside bomb detonated while he was on foot patrol.
Cpl. Antoine J. McKinzie4th Battalion, 27th Field Artillery Regiment The first Iron Brigade soldier to fall during this last deployment, this 25-year-old Indiana native was known as “Mack Ten” to his friends. He never complained when the going got rough and was always ready to listen to a friend talk out their problems. McKinzie died on March 21 in Baghdad, when his vehicle came under enemy fire during combat operations.