Vicenza honors lives of two soldiers killed in Iraq ambush
VICENZA, Italy — Two 173rd Airborne Brigade soldiers who died in Iraq were honored Wednesday at Caserma Ederle.
First Lt. David R. Bernstein and Pfc. John D. Hart were remembered by fellow paratroops, friends and community members in a memorial service at the base’s chapel. The two soldiers from Company C, 1st Battalion, 508th Infantry Regiment were killed Oct. 18 during an ambush in Taza.
Bernstein, 24, was awarded his commission in June 2001 after graduating from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Sgt. 1st Class Frank Lauer said he has worked with a lot of fresh lieutenants over his career, but Bernstein was different.
“He didn’t act green,” Lauer said. “He had some very original ideas and he helped change the world.”
Lauer said he served as Bernstein’s platoon sergeant for 15 months.
“Lieutenant Bernstein dedicated his life to serving his country and looking out for his soldiers,” he said. “I’m proud to say Lieutenant Bernstein was my platoon leader.”
Bernstein was awarded the Silver Star Medal for his efforts during the ambush.
Hart died a month after celebrating his 20th birthday. He had joined the Army only a year earlier on his birthday.
Pfc. Carl Kazanchy recalled pulling a long security detail with Hart in Iraq during which they tried to keep each other alert by talking about “other things besides that Iraq was hot and dirty.”
“He was one of those people who could — and would — talk about everything,” Kazanchy said.
He said Hart had an infectious personality.
“When he started to laugh, that would make you laugh,” Kazanchy said. “And laughter makes anybody feel better.”