Friends remember four 173rd soldiers killed in Afghanistan
(Pfc. Matthew George's hometown was spelled incorrectly in a previous version of this story. In addition, the article should have said that the four soldiers were posthumously promoted.)
BAMBERG, Germany — First Sgt. Richard Carullo was unable to hold back his emotions Monday as he remembered four of his soldiers who were killed in Afghanistan on Aug.31.
“Heaven just gained a highly skilled fire team to defend the Pearly Gates,” he said. “I will never be the same after this — they will be dearly missed.”
Staff Sgt. Vinson B. Adkinson III, 26, of Harper, Kan., Sgt. Raymond C. Alcaraz Jr., 20, of Redlands, Calif., Spc. Matthew E. George, 22, of Grantsboro, N.C.; and Spc. James A. Page, 23, of Titusville, Fla., died in Logar province of injuries sustained after their vehicle was attacked by a roadside bomb.
The soldiers were assigned to 173rd Brigade Support Battalion, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team stationed in Bamberg.
Letters from the soldiers’ friends were read during the ceremony.
A hometown friend and fellow soldier wrote that Adkinson had wanted to join Special Forces and was working to become an mixed martial arts fighter because he loved the sport.
“One thing he sure loved, too, and I think everyone could agree, is that he loved himself,” Sgt. James Triplet wrote. “He truly was a great friend of mine. There wasn’t a thing we didn’t talk about together.”
Sgt. Erick Detrick said in his letter that there were too many memories of his friend Alcaraz to fit into the time he had.
“Yeah, he was short and he always posted song lyrics on his Facebook,” Detrick wrote. “He stared at himself in the mirror at the gym and would flex and always make you look at him and tell him how big he was.”
The two had just recently started talking about what they’d do when they got out of the Army.
“We made plans,” he said. “Now I have to make new ones. He had also just asked me to be the one to pin his rank on his chest when he got promoted. I was honored and proud when he asked me to do that,” Detrick said.
Pfc. John Porter remembered the first time he met George, who he described as quietly enthusiastic.
“He came up to me on a Friday in Germany and asked me if I wanted to go have a few drinks,” Porter said. “At the end of the night I carried him home — not because he was drunk, but because he was tired of walking. The whole time I carried him we both were laughing.”
Spc. David RiveraBadillo wrote that he’d given Page several nicknames.
“When I first met Page he was at [a club] in Germany,” he said. “He was standing there in a corner wearing the biggest T-shirt I have ever seen on such a tiny guy.” So RiveraBadillo took to calling Page “Vin Diesel”, “Triple H”, “The Man of Steel” and “The Hulk”.
“I would always ask him what his secret was to being so big and strong and what supplements he was taking,” he said. “If the secret was in the bag of chips he loved to eat?”
A second service in honor of the four soldiers will be held at 3 p.m. Friday in Vicenza, Italy, at the Caserma Ederle chapel, a U.S. Army Europe spokesman said.