Four GIs from 1st ID killed in Iraq honored in separate ceremonies in Schweinfurt, Bamberg
SCHWEINFURT, Germany — With eyes moist and heads somberly bowed, hundreds of 1st Infantry Division mourners gathered Friday in Schweinfurt and Bamberg to remember four “Big Red One” soldiers who won’t be coming home.
“We come here as a family, as a community, to pay tribute to our friends who died in Iraq,” said Chaplain (Capt.) Wieslaw Dynek, who spoke at the service for three 1st Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment soldiers in Schweinfurt. “I do not know if they felt that they would die, and I doubt if they knew it. But as soldiers they were proud to offer their lives as a gift.”
The three — Sgt. 1st Class Raymond Jones, Staff Sgt. Toby Mallet, and Sgt. Peter Enos — died in an ambush April 9 as their platoon rushed to the aid of an Iraqi police station under attack.
Brig. Gen. Stephen Mundt, the division’s assistant commander for support, remembered Jones, 31, a 12-year veteran, as a “gentle giant with the infectious smile and laugh, who was known for his tough standards and compassion.”
Spc. Jeremy Ende, one of Jones’ soldiers in the 1st Platoon of Battery C, choked back tears as he recalled the team-building dinners he and his buddies shared with Jones and his wife, Katja.
“He was a soldier, a leader, a friend, a father and a hero,” Ende said.
Mallet, 26, of Kaplan, La., was remembered as a quiet platoon leader who trained hard and took care of his soldiers — including bringing hot chow to his troops in the field even when others ate field rations. He is survived by his wife, Saskia, three sons and one daughter.
The Battery C commander, Capt. William Kirby — whose comments were read by another officer — described Enos as “without a doubt the most knowledgeable medic I’ve ever known,” and one who didn’t fear combat.
“I think if given the option, he would have carried a machine gun in addition to his heavy medical gear,” Kirby said. “We have lost a brother, and he will be missed.”
Enos, who would have celebrated his 25th birthday Saturday, is survived by his wife, Shannon, and a son, Marcus.
In Bamberg, friends honored Spc. Isaac Nieves, 20, of the 82nd Engineer Battalion. Nieves, a native New Yorker, enlisted a month before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on his home city and died April 8 when a rocket-propelled grenade struck the back hatch of the Humvee in which he was riding as gunner.
Comments from colleagues downrange that were read at the service described him as an avid bodybuilder who loved Disney films.
“Isaac was a macho, tough-looking sapper, but he remained a kid at heart,” said Capt. Jon Drake, his company commander. “Isaac would give you the shirt off his back if you were in need but was always quick to bum a smoke.”
Nieves is survived by his wife, Amy.
Friday’s services came one long, hard month after the 1st ID assumed command of the area north of Baghdad that includes Tikrit, Samarra, Balad and Baqoubah from the 4th Infantry Division. Seventeen soldiers from the Big Red One’s three Germany-based brigades have lost their lives in Iraq.