For Lamebear, what could have been: Iraq duty, camaraderie
After a tough night on a Baghdad roadblock, Sgt. 1st Class Terry Daniel was telling his platoon how it could have operated the checkpoint under safer conditions.
His unit, Company A, 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment, deployed to the Iraqi capital in June and was then learning the ropes of security duties.
“We could have used another man right there,” Daniel said, pointing to a dark side of the street that was left unguarded while 2nd platoon members stopped Iraqi cars and conducted searches.
That soldier could have been Spc. Clint Lamebear, an infantryman murdered last November in Frankfurt, Germany.
“This is the platoon he would have been in,” Daniel said, adding that the extra soldier could have been anyone from his platoon, not necessarily Lamebear.
Not many soldiers in Company A got the chance to know Lamebear, so while word of his death hit hard, the impact was not devastating, Daniel said.
Daniel, who took over 2nd Platoon after Lamebear’s death, was training in England when Lamebear arrived. Several other troops from the platoon were in the field in mid-November, he said.
But many who learned of Lamebear’s slaying Nov. 16 were saddened by the loss and later shocked to learn that he died at the hands of two soldiers from the battalion, Pfc. Andrew Humiston and Pfc. Jonathan Schroeder.
“It sucks. The guy came [into the Army] and got beat up for a couple [of] measly bucks,” said Pvt. Brian Segay, a Navajo assigned to 2nd Platoon and also in Baghdad. “It was unnecessary. He was just a kid trying to make it better for himself.”
Segay, 24, grew up in Window Rock, Ariz., a small Navajo community near Lamebear’s hometown of Church Rock, N.M. Segay’s wife, Marcinda, 21, went to Lamebear’s high school, he said.
Lamebear’s murder brought anger and disappointment, Segay said. Lamebear stopped by Segay’s barracks room during his brief stay in Friedberg, Germany, the battalion’s home station. Segay said he was looking forward to getting to know Lamebear better.
“It would have been nice to have a guy in the platoon that I could relate to,” Segay said.
Both Schroeder and Humiston, who should also be on duty in Baghdad, received life sentences earlier this month for killing Lamebear.
“Those guys deserve to go to jail,” said Staff Sgt. Ryan Creech, 30, of Atlanta, who met Lamebear only briefly outside his barracks the Thursday before he died.
Lamebear was sitting on his bags with that “deer-in-the-headlights look that soldiers have when they just arrived from basic,” Creech said during a break from his duties in Baghdad. “All I did was shake his hand.”
Lamebear would have been in Creech’s squad if he had lived, Creech said.
“It bothers me — the kid was only 18,” Creech said, his voice growing softer as he looked toward the ground. “I go to Frankfurt all the time. I could have gone with him.”
As guards clamped wrist irons on Humiston last week, the infantry mortarman said he hoped the soldiers from his unit would “fight on,” adding that he “hoped to see them real soon.”
Humiston and Schroeder are headed to the U.S. Army Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., to serve their sentences. Neither will be eligible for parole for 10 years.
“I want to see them make it home to their families,” Humiston said of the members of his unit.
Sadly, one soldier never got the chance to serve beside his fellow troops in Iraq, let alone return to his family. Lamebear, who was promoted posthumously from private first class to specialist, was buried Nov. 26 in Gallup’s Sunset Memorial Cemetery under a soldier’s headstone.
His mother, Kristen June, recalls that his funeral was the day after his 19th birthday. June thinks of her son each day, more so when she hears news from Iraq.
“I know my son would have been over there. I would have been worried and waiting for his phone calls,” June said. “But at least he would have been alive.”