Fallen soldier 'was a brother to everyone'
Among his mortar platoon buddies in Iraq, Sgt. Nicholas Gibbs had a lot of nicknames: Little Nick, Baby Gibbs, Li’l Ray, Giblet.
And for every nickname, there was a story to go along with it, said Maj. Jason B. Irwin, the rear detachment commander of the 1st Battalion, 37th Armor Regiment, known as the “Bandits.”
The last story about Gibbs is how, after his unit came under attack the evening of Dec. 6 in Ramadi, Iraq, he courageously stood up from his rooftop observation post to engage the enemy.
“It was in that moment that he was taken from us,” Lt. Col. V.J. Tedesco III, commander of the 1-37 “Bandits,” wrote in an e-mail to Irwin.
A single bullet struck Gibbs. Despite the best efforts of his colleagues, he died soon after.
Gibbs, 25, of Stokesdale, N.C., was the sixth “Bandits” soldier killed in Iraq this year. His brigade, the 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division, has lost more than two dozen soldiers since deploying in January.
Gibbs’ death has left his fellow soldiers feeling as if they lost a member of their family, said Irwin.
“He was a brother to everybody that was down there.”
At a memorial for Gibbs on Monday at Ray Barracks in Friedberg, Germany, Irwin recalled how Gibbs, who arrived at the unit too late to ship to Iraq during its first Iraq deployment, had been assigned to the unit’s rear detachment.
“He was so mad because he thought that he had missed his opportunity,” Irwin said.
But in January, the Bandits deployed to Iraq for a second time, and Gibbs got the chance he’d been waiting for.
But the deployment hadn’t been all he’d hoped. In August, his best friend, Spc. Ignacio Ramirez, was killed by a roadside bomb in Ramadi.
“I’m sure that weighed heavily on his mind as he continued his mission down there,” Irwin said. But Gibbs soldiered on.
Behind Gibbs’ tenacity was a family history of patriotism, and a love of his country that was cultivated through stories and histories told to him while sitting on his grandfather’s knee, said Chaplain (Capt.) Robert D. Crawford Jr. during the memorial service.
Despite losing Ramirez, “Gibbs showed tenacity and determination by continuing the fight,” Irwin said.
“It takes a special person to drive on despite the hardships and challenges they faced.”