Camp Red Cloud honors 2nd Brigade Combat Team soldiers killed in Iraq
Stars and Stripes November 26, 2004
CAMP RED CLOUD, South Korea — Twenty poster-sized photographs of U.S. soldiers hung at the front of the Camp Red Cloud chapel on Wednesday.
Some of the soldiers in the photographs smiled; others frowned. Some wore tan desert camouflage; others had on their green, battle-dress uniforms. Their ages ranged from 19 to 41.
Most were Caucasian but there were Asian-Americans, an African-American and a Puerto Rican among them.
All lost their lives in the last few months fighting with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team (Strike Force) in Iraq, and all were honored at ceremonies throughout Warrior Country on the eve of Thanksgiving.
Secretary of the Army Francis J. Harvey, U.S. Forces Korea commander Gen. Leon J. LaPorte, 2nd Infantry Division commander Maj. Gen. George A. Higgins and numerous other high-ranking U.S. and South Korean officers attended the Camp Red Cloud ceremony. But few in the audience had served alongside the fallen soldiers in the desert.
One who had, 2nd ID safety officer Denver McClintock, who returned from Iraq last week, said the ceremony brought back memories of six of his friends who were among those honored.
The speeches at the ceremony were good but they did not stir McClintock’s emotions like the words spoken by the dead soldiers’ comrades in Iraq, the Department of the Army civilian said.
“I was not as emotional [at the South Korean ceremony] as I was when I first heard about the deaths or when I heard the soldiers from the units talk about it when I was in Iraq. Then it came from the heart and it really affected me. I cried a lot back in Iraq. Here it is not the same type of environment,” he said.
The Vietnam veteran attended two ceremonies for dead Strike Force soldiers while in Iraq, but stopped going to them because “it was almost way too personal,” he said.
The Camp Red Cloud ceremony made McClintock feel lucky, he said.
“Through sheer luck of the draw I wasn’t killed. I missed getting killed by about 50 feet,” he said.
During the ceremony, 2nd ID commander Higgins stood in front of the photographs and the traditional tribute to fallen U.S. soldiers — a pair of combat boots, an M-16 rifle and a helmet.
The Pentagon has confirmed 21 dead from 2nd Brigade; the 20 honored at the ceremonies were soldiers whose deaths were directly related to combat operations, 2nd ID officials said.
The Strike Force soldiers who died in Iraq answered the call to duty “as patriots” without hesitation, Higgins said.
“Each of these men became a soldier along a different path. … They came as artillerymen, infantrymen, engineers, tankers and truck drivers. They left behind parents, wives, brothers, sisters, children and friends. All those who love them so dearly.”
Contrary to what some might believe, the soldiers did not die in vain, Higgins said.
“I deny that they died for anything. Truth is they lived for something and they knew that the way they chose to live their lives, in service of others, carried with it great personal risk.
“They lived and, as a consequence, died because they had the courage to step forward and make a commitment to something larger than themselves. They refused to abandon their buddies to their left and to their right.
“They have pledged and given their lives so we and generations to come might live as free men and women. They were not the sort of men to sit by while others watched. They were ready and willing to act to preserve … peace, liberty and prosperity,” he said.
After the general spoke, the U.S. and South Korea national anthems were sung, soldiers read passages from the Bible, members of the 2nd ID band and a lone bagpiper played and a firing party gave the soldiers a final salute.
Second ID Headquarters and Headquarters Company 1st Sgt. Mark Kauffman called each fallen soldier’s name twice while their photographs were projected on a large screen.
The dates of the soldiers’ deaths were also projected on the screen, bringing home to the audience that three months ago all of the soldiers were alive and some died as recently as last week.
For 2nd ID band member Pfc. Derrick Gilbert, 27, of Little Rock, Ark., who sang the national anthem at the ceremony, the images of his dead comrades constituted a reminder of his own mortality.
“I had a lot of thoughts that it could have been me. I’m older than a lot of the guys who were up on the projector,” he said.
The ceremony also reinforced Gilbert’s own motivation for joining the military, he said.
“I was living in New York when the World Trade Center fell. Knowing the history behind this war and seeing these things [at the ceremony] is very humbling,” he said.
2nd Brigade deaths in Iraq
Spc. Omead H. Razani, 19, of Los Angeles died Aug. 27 in Habbaniyah of noncombat-related injuries. Razani was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment.
Staff Sgt. Gary A. Vaillant, of the 2nd Battalion, 72nd Armor Regiment, was killed Sept. 5 when his tank ran over an anti-tank mine near Khaldiyah. Vaillant, 41, was from Trujillo, Puerto Rico.
Pfc. Jason Lee Sparks of the 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, was killed by enemy fire Sept. 8 in Fallujah. Sparks, 19, from Monroeville, Ohio, was killed by sniper fire when his squad was ambushed.
1st Lt. Tyler H. Brown, 26, of Atlanta died Sept. 14 in Ramadi when his unit was attacked by small-arms fire. Brown was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment.
Spc. Robert Oliver Unruh, of the 44th Engineer Battalion, was killed by small-arms fire Sept. 25 in Al Anbar province. Unruh, 25, was from Tucson, Ariz.
Capt. Eric L. Allton, 34, was killed Sept. 26 in Ramadi by a mortar round. A Houston native, Allton was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 17th Field Artillery Regiment.
Pfc. Joshua K. Titcomb, of the 2nd Battalion, 72nd Armor Regiment, was killed Sept. 29 in Ramadi when an improvised explosive device was detonated near his vehicle. Titcomb, 20, was from Somerset, Ky.
Pvt. Jeungjin Na Kim, 23, of Honolulu, died Oct. 6 in Ramadi when his patrol was attacked by small-arms fire. Kim was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 17th Field Artillery.
Pfc. James E. Prevete, 22, of Whitestone, N.Y., died Oct. 10 in Habbaniyah when his military vehicle encountered white-out conditions and the driver apparently lost control of the vehicle. Prevete was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment.
Pfc. Aaron J. Rusin, 19, of Johnstown, Pa., died Oct. 11 in Baghdad of injuries sustained Oct. 10 when his vehicle came under fire. Rusin was assigned to the 44th Engineer Battalion.
Spc. Christopher A. Merville, 26, of Albuquerque, N.M., was killed Oct. 12 in Baghdad when his unit came under fire. Merville was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 17th Field Artillery.
Staff Sgt. Omer T. Hawkins II, 31, of Cherry Fork, Ohio, was killed Oct. 14 when an IED struck his convoy in Ramadi. Hawkins was assigned to the 44th Engineer Battalion.
Spc. Bradley S. Beard, 22, of Chapel Hill, N.C., was killed Oct. 14 when an IED struck his convoy in Ramadi. Beard was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 17th Field Artillery Regiment.
Pfc. Mark A. Barbret, 22, of Shelby Township, Mich., was killed Oct. 14 when an IED struck his convoy in Ramadi. Barbret was assigned to the 44th Engineer Battalion.
Pfc. Stephen P. Downing II, 30, was killed Oct. 28 by small-arms fire in Ramadi. Downing, of Burkesville, Ky., was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 17th Field Artillery.
Sgt. Maurice Keith Fortune, 25, was killed Oct. 29 in Ramadi by a car bomb. Fortune, of Forestville, Md., was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 17th Field Artillery.
Sgt. John B. Trotter, 25, of Marble Falls, Texas, was killed Nov. 9 in Ramadi when his patrol came under attack by small-arms fire. Trotter was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment.
Pfc. Dennis J. Miller Jr., 21, of La Salle, Mich., was killed Nov. 10 in Ramadi when his M1A1 Abrams tank was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade. Miller was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 72nd Armor Regiment.
Staff Sgt. Sean P. Huey, 28, of Fredericktown, Pa., was killed Nov. 11 in Habbaniyah when a car bomb detonated near his Humvee. Huey was assigned to 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment.
Staff Sgt. Marshall H. Caddy, 27, of Nags Head, N.C., died Nov. 16 in Khaldiyah when his vehicle struck another vehicle. Caddy was assigned to 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment.
1st Lt. Luke C. Wullenwaber, 24, of Lewiston, Idaho, died Nov. 16 in Khaldiyah when a car bomb detonated near his vehicle. Wullenwaber was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment.
— Staff reports