Baumholder pays respects to 4 soldiers killed in Afghanistan
BAUMHOLDER, Germany — Sheltered in a chapel from gray and rainy weather, soldiers and families came together to remember four soldiers killed when their vehicle overturned in Afghanistan.
Sgt. 1st Class Alvin A. Boatwright, Staff Sgt. Edward F. Dixon III, Staff Sgt. Alan L. Snyder and Spc. Tyler R. Kreinz died June 18 while patrolling the Deh Rawud area of Uruzgan province. All were assigned to Company C, 4th Battalion, 70th Armor Regiment, 170th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.
Eulogies, written by the soldiers’ colleagues in the field and read aloud at the memorial ceremony, recalled not only the soldiers’ lives, but also the horrific night of their deaths.
“On Saturday night, at a less-than-unique crossing point, along a typical stretch of Helmand River, four exceptional individuals lost their lives,” said Lt. Col. David Oeschger, commander of 4th Battalion, 70th Armor Regiment.
Eschger recalled how the other soldiers in the unit, helped by Afghan and Australian soldiers, struggled to save their colleagues from the rushing river. When they realized they could not, they stood guard until the “last body was flown out and the vehicle was recovered,” Oeschger said.
“You are the legacy,” he told the survivors, “and you do these men proud.”
First Lt. Lonnie Townsend recalled Boatwright, 33, of Lodge, S.C., as “the backbone of 3rd Platoon.” Boatwright’s fellow soldiers continued to try to save him and the others, even after they were told to stop, Townsend said.
“You never gave up,” he continued. “If Sergeant 1st Class Boatwright were here today, he would tell you that you did a phenomenal job, and did everything you could.”
Boatwright was remembered by his colleagues as a gregarious but tough leader. He joined the Army in 1998 and served two tours in Iraq before being assigned as a recruiter in Dallas. But recruiting “wasn’t what he loved to do,” said his aunt, Lillie Boatwright, by phone from South Carolina. “He wanted to be back with his buddies in the Army.” After three years as a recruiter, Boatwright was reassigned to the Baumholder-based brigade and deployed to Afghanistan.
He is survived by his wife, Julie, and his parents, Israel and Mary.
Dixon, 37, grew up in rural Joplin, Mo., where he spent his early years hunting and romping in the woodlands. In 1992 he joined the Air Force, in which his father, also named Edward, had served. After leaving the Air Force in 2004, he joined the Army, serving as a gunner and tank commander in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
Edward Dixon said he spoke to his son by Facebook just three or four days before his death.
“I just told him how proud I was,” he said.
Sgt. Joseph Taylor, who worked under Dixon, recalled him as a diligent sergeant, who shared his vast knowledge with his soldiers.
“He could take any man,” he said, “and make them a competent soldier.”
Besides his father and mother, Dixon is survived by his wife, Jana; two sons, Oliver and Justin; and a daughter, Briana.
Snyder, 28, of Worcester, Mass., joined the Army in 2003. Before deploying to Afghanistan, he served twice in Iraq as a tank mechanic.
“He disliked television, preferring to write poetry,” recalled Spc. Adam Parker. And “he would sooner build something with his own hands than buy it in a store, because he felt it meant more.”
Snyder is survived by his parents, Alfred and Julie, and his fiancée, Jasmin.
Kreinz, 21, of Beloit, Wis., was the youngest of the four soldiers who died. Guided by his memories of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, he joined the Army after finishing high school in 2008, said his father, David.
“I tried hundreds of times to talk him out of it,” he said. “But he was very strong and determined, and you couldn’t change his mind.”
Kreinz enjoyed the outdoors, hunting and fishing, but he also kept a number of pets, including several birds. He planned to attend the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point to study conservation after finishing his service, his father said, and he hoped to become a game warden.
Kreinz was a crack shot, earning awards for his marksmanship. Spc. Wayne Nurse recalled how Kreinz liked to blare hip-hop music, eat flaming-hot Cheetos with skim milk and talk about guns. They also often talked about Kreinz’s plans for college and his girlfriend, Megan.
“He was quiet, but caring,” Nurse said. “He was a natural, a genuine guy, so much fun to be around.”
Besides his father, Kreinz is survived by his mother, Marilyn.
All four soldiers’ parents were told of the deaths of their sons on Father’s Day. Kreinz’s father said it made no difference.
“It could have been Christmas,” he said. “Hearing about the death of your son is devastating no matter what day it is.”