Baumholder community mourns soldier killed in Iraq bombing
BAUMHOLDER, Germany — Spc. Brian Connelly and Spc. Charlie Twombly had nothing in common, except for a bunk.
Connelly hailed from a small coastal town in New Jersey where he loved to fish; Twombly grew up on a farm.
“We fought like siblings,” Twombly said. “But we became like brothers. We would bend over backward for each other.”
On Friday, Twombly cried as he said goodbye to his friend at a memorial service at the Baumholder chapel. Connelly died Feb. 26 when an explosive device struck his vehicle as he patrolled a street in Sadr City, Iraq. He was 26.
Connelly, a combat engineer with the 40th Engineer Battalion, Task Force 1-6, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, was posthumously awarded the rank of corporal and other commendations.
“I’ve known Corporal Connelly for a long time,” Twombly said in his eulogy. “He was a good friend of mine. I will always miss him.”
The friendship started when they were thrown together as roommates in Baumholder. Then they were assigned to the same platoon in Iraq, where they shared a bunk. They quibbled over who would get the bottom bed. Connelly won.
Stifled laughter echoed through the church as Twombly explained the many practical jokes the pair concocted, from exploding cigarettes to stealing the pens of a sergeant who was very protective of his space. Mostly, though, the soldiers hung their heads, saddened that another had died so young.
Connelly grew up in Union Beach, N.J. As a boy, he trolled the nearby bay waters for fluke and red fish. After graduating high school, he studied computer technology at a local community college and also worked a job with an electricians union, according to the Newark Star-Ledger.
He was laid off, though. Adrift and without work, he joined the Army in 2006.
Once assigned to Baumholder, Connelly courted an old high-school friend, Kara. The young couple spoke mostly by webcam.
Connelly soon proposed, and they were married in a small ceremony while Connelly was on an 18-day leave from Iraq.
“All he wanted to do was come home and start a family,” Connelly’s mother, Jean Dammann, told the newspaper.
The last time they spoke, Connelly told his wife that his tour in Iraq had been shortened, and that he would be heading back to Germany in May. He was killed four hours later.
They had been married just five months.