Service held at Büdingen for two slain soldiers
December 3, 2003
BüDINGEN, Germany — Just beyond the front door of the chapel, down a slight, grassy incline, are nine wooden crosses situated at the base of the flagpole on Armstrong Barracks.
This is one of the ways the members of the 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 1st Armored Division, remember their fallen comrades. It’s a tradition that dates back to the 1991 Gulf War, and one that continues to this day.
The latest crosses to grace the area were erected in honor of Cpl. Robert D. Roberts and Pfc. Damian S. Bushart. The two died Nov. 22 in Baghdad, Iraq, when an M1A1 Abrams tank crashed into their vehicle.
On Tuesday, the soldiers were remembered at a memorial service held inside the Büdingen Chapel. About 100 people attended the service, including several local German officials.
The crosses, said Staff Sgt. James Chastain, are a way “to honor our fallen. It’s just like the chaplain said: Don’t let them be forgotten.”
During the service, the soldiers were remembered as decent, attentive and promising young men. Both were in their early 20s. Both were married. And both served in the same tank platoon.
“They were laid back, easygoing,” Sgt. Ryan Yaun, a gunner in their tank platoon, said after the service. “Everybody liked working with them.”
Roberts, 21, of Winter Park, Fla., joined the service in July 2001. He came to Büdingen in January of 2002, and, like Yaun, was a tank gunner.
“He was a good-natured kid,” said Chastain, who personally knew the young soldier.
“You’d ask him to do something and he’d be dead on it,” Chastain continued. “He would’ve made a fine senior NCO.”
Roberts is survived by his wife, Jillian, and a son, Jacob Daniel.
Bushart, who hailed from Waterford, Mich., had just joined the unit in January. The tank loader, according to Yaun, was as dependable as they come. When Bushart was given a task, Yaun knew he would give it his best — and then some.
The 22-year-old also wasn’t one to wait for work to come to him.
“He was always there volunteering” for duties and chores, Yaun said at the service.
Bushart is survived by his wife, Megan.
“They accepted the mission,” said Chastain, a member of the rear detachment command, “no matter what it took.”