Saturday, November 22, 2003

Army Spc. Robert D. Roberts

Remember Our Heroes

Army Spc. Robert D. Roberts, 21, of Winter Park, Fla.

Spc Roberts was assigned to A Troop, 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 1st Armored Division, based in Armstrong Barracks, Germany; killed Nov. 22 when a tank collided with his vehicle in Baghdad, Iraq.

The same day she learned of her husband's death in Iraq, Jill Roberts received three cards in the mail from him, two of them for their 3-year-old son, Jacob.

In one card, Robert Roberts told his son to "take care of Mommy until Daddy gets home."

"Bobby went into the Army to be sure he could provide for his son, and he always did provide for us," Jill Roberts said.

Spc. Roberts, 21, of Winter Park, Fla., died Nov. 22 when his vehicle was crushed by a tank during a night mission in Baghdad. His unit had been based in Hanau, Germany, before being sent to Iraq.

Roberts played high school football, and worked at an Italian restaurant and as a carpenter before enlisting.

His brother returned home from serving in Iraq in August.

"We want him remembered as the hero he was," said Jill Roberts, 20. "He was very proud of the job he was doing."

Army Spc. Robert D. Roberts was killed in action on 11/22/03.

Saturday, November 15, 2003

Army Specialist Eugene A. Uhl III

Remember Our Heroes

Army Specialist Eugene A. Uhl III, 21, of Amherst, Wis.

Spc. Uhl was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 320th Field Artillery, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.; killed Nov. 15 when two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters crashed in Mosul, Iraq.

Community gathers to remember latest casualty of war

Associated Press

AMHERST, Wis. — The community gathered to mourn the death of a young soldier who died in the crash of two Black Hawk helicopters in Iraq.

Flags flew at half-staff outside Amherst High School, Staff Sgt. Eugene Uhl III’s alma mater, where a community memorial service was held Nov. 25 in the gym. A funeral was planned for the following day.

“What we honor here today is a young man who took a different direction,” Chaplain Daniel Farley told a crowd of about 450 who gathered to remember the 21-year-old Uhl. He died Nov. 15 in Mosul, Iraq, in a crash that killed 17 soldiers.

“He knew the risks, but he also knew it was a wonderful opportunity to make a difference,” said Farley, a captain who served as Uhl’s chaplain with the Wisconsin National Guard in Stevens Point.

Uhl’s parents, Eugene Jr. and Joan Uhl, stood with his sisters and other relatives in front of a flag-draped casket. A portrait of Uhl sat on a nearby easel, and slides of his life flashed on a screen.

Capt. Brian Leahy recalled hearing Uhl tell stories about his grandfather, the late Eugene “Bud” Uhl, who served in the same National Guard unit and was a decorated World War II combat veteran.

Leahy said Uhl left for active duty in July 2002, despite the uncertain times, because of his love for the country.

“The simple fact that you wear the uniform puts you in harm’s way,” he added.

National Guard soldiers in olive green dotted the crowd. Sgt. 1st Class Paul Peplinski said many of the younger unit members were good friends with Uhl.

Amherst principal Pete Sippel said a somber mood hung over the school throughout the week as students were reminded of the sacrifices of others.

Wisconsin soldier mourned at funeral

Hundreds of mourners gathered Wednesday to pay tribute to Army Staff Sgt. Eugene A. Uhl III, killed when two Black Hawk helicopters crashed in Iraq.

Gov. Jim Doyle, attending the services at Amherst High School, said people throughout the state shared in the loss. Uhl would have turned 22 on Thanksgiving.

“We are understanding what we have to be thankful for and finding inspiration in the life of a 21-year-old man,” Doyle said. “It demonstrates to us what it means to live in a free country and the sacrifice it takes.”

The Bronze Star and Purple Heart were posthumously awarded to Uhl and presented to his parents by Gen. Nathaniel Thompson, representing the Army chief of staff at the funeral.

Uhl served with the Army’s 1st Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment of the Division Artillery Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division.

Uhl wrote in a letter to his father that he had seen some horrible things in Iraq, said Capt. Daniel Farley, the chaplain who co-presided at the funeral with the Rev. Robert Pedretti of St. James Catholic Church in Amherst.

“But he knew he had to be there,” Farley said. “There is ongoing praise of him that he was a man filled with life and enjoyed sharing that life. ... Eugene said, ‘I want to make a difference.’ He knew what his choice involved, and he knew it might involve going to Iraq.”

More than 600 relatives, friends and others attended the service in the high school gymnasium. Many went by bus afterward to Greenwood Cemetery in Amherst, where Uhl was buried with full military honors.

Students from the Tomorrow River School District were allowed to be released from classes with a note from their parents to attend the funeral, said Principal Pete Sippel.

“It’s an opportunity for them to see the show of respect for Eugene,” Sippel said.

Uhl was a 2000 graduate of Amherst High School and president of the Student Council.

— Associated Press

Army Specialist Eugene A. Uhl III was killed in action on 11/15/03.

Friday, November 14, 2003

Army Sgt. Jay A. Blessing

Remember Our Heroes

Army Sgt. Jay A. Blessing, 23, Tacoma, Wash.

Sgt. Blessing was assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Fort Lewis, Wash.; killed in action by an improvised explosive device, on Nov. 14 in Asadabad, Afghanistan.

Sgt. Jay Anthony Blessing was born January 4, 1980 in Washington and claimed Tacoma as home. He volunteered for Army service in August 1998.

He completed basic combat training and advanced individual training in the military operational specialty of Infantryman at Fort Benning, Ga. Sgt. Blessing continued his military training at Fort Benning when he attended the Basic Airborne Course in November 1998 and then graduated from the Ranger Indoctrination Program in January 1999. On January 28, 1999, he was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment at Fort Lewis, Wash. He went on to graduate from the U.S. Army Ranger Course and the Primary Leadership Development Course and was promoted to sergeant in June 2002.

Sgt. Blessing was an armorer with 2nd Battalion’s Headquarters and Headquarters Company. He was wounded and later died of his injuries Nov. 14 when the vehicle he was in struck an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan’s Kunar province.

His awards and decorations include the Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, the Army Service Ribbon, the Expert Infantryman Badge, the Parachutist Badge, the 2nd Bn., 75th Ranger Rgt. Combat Shoulder Sleeve Insignia and the Ranger tab.

Sergeant Blessing deployed with his Ranger battalion in support of the Global War on Terrorism and participated in combat operations in Afghanistan.

He is survived by his father, James A. Blessing, of Tacoma, Wash., and his brother, Jason Blessing, also of Tacoma. His mother, Carol Lee M. Blessing, is deceased.

As a Ranger, Sgt. Blessing distinguished himself as a member of the Army’s premier light-infantry unit, traveled to all corners of the world in support of the Global War on Terrorism, and fought valiantly to “uphold the prestige, honor, and high ‘esprit de corps’ of my Ranger Regiment.”

~Night Stalker Memorial

Army Sgt. Jay A. Blessing was killed in action on 11/14/03.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Army Sgt. Joseph Minucci

Remember Our Heroes

Army Sgt. Joseph Minucci, 23, of Richeyville, Pa.

Sgt. Minucci was assigned to C Company, 2nd Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, Camp Ederle, Italy; killed Nov. 13 when an improvised explosive device exploded next to the bus on which he was riding in Samara, Iraq.

At 17, Sgt. Joseph Minucci II knew he wasn't headed to college, and the National Guard offered him some purpose in his life.

"He told me the reason he did what he did was that he felt that he was keeping his family safe. He was not only protecting his country, but keeping us all safe," Marcella Minucci said.

The 23-year-old soldier from Richeyville, Pa., was killed by an explosive Nov. 13 in Samara, Iraq. He was based at Camp Ederle, Italy, and is survived by his parents.

Minucci was a high school varsity football player and a soccer co-captain when he joined the National Guard. About a year later, he enlisted in the Army, and he earned his paratrooper wings at Fort Campbell, Ky.

"He was a proud soldier," Marcella Minucci said. "He was proud to be serving in Iraq."

Army Sgt. Joseph Minucci was killed in action on 11/13/03.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Army National Guard Spc. Robert A. Wise

Remember Our Heroes

Florida Army National Guard Spc. Robert A. Wise, 21, of Tallahassee, Fla.

Spc. Wise was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 124th Infantry Regiment, 53rd Infantry Brigade, Florida National Guard, Tallahassee, Fla.; killed while on mounted patrol Nov. 12, 2003 when an improvised explosive device exploded in Baghdad.

Tallahassee family shares memories of dead Florida guardsman
Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Robert Allen Wise, the young infantryman killed in Iraq, had to get his mother’s signature to join the Florida National Guard when he was 17 — a decision his mom said Monday she almost denied.

“I drove over to the school with the full intention of telling him I could not do this,” Tammy Wise said.

But when she picked up her son that fateful day from a high school class, he said, “Mom, we’ve got to talk.”

And she told him to go first.

Robert Wise told his mother that while many of his buddies had no idea what they were going to do after finishing school, he knew where he was headed — to boot camp and a military career.

“I looked at him and said, ‘Son, you said the only thing possible that you could have said to get me to walk into that office and sign those papers,”’ she related. “He never once said he regretted what he was doing.”

The young soldier’s unit, assigned to the 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division, was activated in January and deployed to Kuwait and Iraq in February.

And his mom worried.

“Every second of every hour of everyday,” she said at a media availability at a National Guard armory. “The only time that it goes away is when you’re on the phone with him.”

In the e-mails they exchanged, he would constantly try to reassure his mother that everything was OK.

“He said, ‘Don’t worry, things here are fine,”’ Tammy Wise said.

“If anything major happens you’ll be the last to know,” she said he teased. “I don’t want you worrying on my behalf.”

Wise, 21, was killed Nov. 12 when a combat vehicle he was riding in was blown up by a bomb in Baghdad.

“He looked at life and saw the winding road and he kind of took aim at it,” said Marie Hildinger, Wise’s older sister.

Wise, who sent home several photos with his arms around young Iraqi children, loved kids — especially his sister’s two youngsters.

“Robert had a special affinity for children because he knew how to act like them,” Hildinger said. “If there was a game in town he wanted to be part of it.”

Hildinger, who spent three years as a military policewoman in the Army, said she often talked with her brother about the dangers of war.

“Before he left, he told me if he was going to die, he was going to die honorably for his country, for us and my children, his niece and nephew ... and he did,” she said tearfully.

Wise’s family and girlfriend, Jenny Walsh, all wore T-shirts with ‘Operation Iraqi’ across the front — shirts the specialist sent from Qatar during a recent four-day R&R.

“He actually had his life mapped out,” said David Wise of Key West, the guardsman’s father, noting the son has a new role.

David Wise alluded to the collision of two Army Black Hawk helicopters as they tried to escape enemy fire. The collision killed 17 soldiers.

“Seventeen more soldiers,” David Wise said. “We just think Robert’s greeting them. Making it better on them ... you know, with that goofy grin that he had.”

Army National Guard Spc. Robert A. Wise was killed in action on 11/12/03.

Friday, November 07, 2003

Army Sgt. Scott C. Rose

Remember Our Heroes

Army Sgt. Scott C. Rose, 30, of Fayetteville, N.C.;

Sgt. Rose was assigned to 5th Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), based in Fort Campbell, Ky.; killed Nov. 7 when a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter was shot down in Tikrit, Iraq.

Soldier killed in Iraq remembered in Vermont

Associated Press

SPRINGFIELD, Vt. — Army Staff Sgt. Scott Rose told his wife Michele last year that if he were killed in Iraq he wanted his funeral to be held at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in her hometown.

On Nov. 22 Rose, who was killed when the helicopter he was in went down near Tikrit, Iraq, got his wish.

The Rev. Peter Williams recalls Rose was struck by the church and its community when he and his wife visited last Christmas.

There was something about the church, with its stained glass windows honoring the saints, and its vaulted painted ceiling, overlooking the Black River and downtown Springfield, that spoke to Rose, who was born in Massachusetts and grew up in North Carolina.

Or maybe it was that the church’s previous priest was a retired military chaplain.

Williams said the couple, who met at North Carolina State University and were married in Mendon in 1996, often came to Vermont.

Michele Basso Rose and her parents don’t belong to St. Mary’s Church, but her husband and his family were devout Catholics, so the pair went to Christmas Mass, Williams said outside the church before the requiem Mass.

Strangers held flags as the coffin was carried to the church by soldiers from Fort Drum, N.Y., marching into the church with tiny steps.

And strangers cried, moved by the tragedy of a soldier dying in a distant war, and leaving behind a baby daughter he had never met.

Rose was honored on a bright sunny and mild November morning, hundreds of miles from his parents’ home in North Carolina, and thousands of miles from Tikrit, Iraq, where the 30-year-old Army sergeant died when his Black Hawk helicopter exploded and fell to the ground, killing all six GIs aboard.

Sgt. Rose’s father, retired Lt. Col. Alfred F. Rose, who wore his Army uniform for his son’s funeral, accompanied his wife, daughter and daughter-in-law.

After the Mass, family and friends stood silently on the steps of the church, as a final military farewell was held and the Army presented boxes holding his Purple Heart and his Silver Star to the widow.

Shots were fired into the air, making babies cry, and the American flag covering his maple casket was folded with careful precision by an honor guard from the 10th Mountain Division, based at Fort Drum.

Soldier dies in helicopter crash

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — A soldier reportedly from Cumberland County was one of six people who died when a helicopter was shot down Friday in Tikrit, Iraq, the Department of Defense said on Sunday.

Sgt. Scott C. Rose was a member of the 101st Airborne Division, based in Fort Campbell, Ky. Rose was 30. The 101st is part of the 18th Airborne Corps, which has its headquarters at Fort Bragg.

Rose’s hometown wasn’t released by the Army, but a press release from Fort Campbell said he was a native of Massachusetts. The Defense Department said in a release on Sunday that Rose was from Fayetteville.

Rose had been in Iraq since spring. He never held is baby girl, born July 31. The closest he got was watching Meghan Louise through a computer monitor. His wife, Michele, and father-in-law had hooked up a Web camer so that Rose could watch her fussing and cooing from Rose’s home in Fort Campbell.

He was good at his job, said his father, retired Lt. Col. Alfred “Butch” Rose, who lives in Fayetteville.

“I could not be more proud of a son,” his father said. “There was no way, when I looked at what he did, I could not have done what he did. He was better than me.”

Rose was looking forward to his next assignment: teaching other crew chiefs stateside in Fort Eustis, Va., where he could be near his wife and daughter.

Rose and his wife met at North Carolina State University, said Paula Basso, Rose’s mother-in-law, in a phone interview from her home in Vermont.

She said Michele, who was from Vermont, had found a perfect Southern gentleman. Rose was friendly, thoughtful and quiet, Basso said.

Michele, contacted in Tennessee, had no comment.

The Black Hawk was apparently shot down by insurgents. A total of six soldiers, including two from the Department of the Army headquarters at the Pentagon, were killed.

An investigation was under way Sunday to determine whether mechanical failure or hostile fire caused the crash, but several officers believed the Black Hawk was shot down.

Tikrit is Saddam Hussein’s hometown. The Black Hawk’s crash underscores the danger American troops face in Iraq, especially in areas north and west of Baghdad dominated by Sunni Muslim Arabs. Anti-American sentiments are strong in the “Sunni Triangle,” and attacks against coalition forces have recently intensified.

— Associated Press

Army Sgt. Scott C. Rose was killed in action on 11/07/03.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Mississippi Army National Guard Spc. James A. Chance III

Remember Our Heroes

Mississippi Army National Guard Spc. James A. Chance III, 25, of Kokomo, Miss.

Spc. Chance assigned to C Company, 890th Engineer Battalion, Army National Guard, based in Columbia, Miss.; killed Nov. 6 when his vehicle struck a landmine in Husaybah, Iraq.

Spc. James A. Chance III didn't want his counterparts with spouses or children to risk themselves driving through dangerous territory in Iraq, family pastor Jimmy Jones said.

So the Mississippi National Guardsman volunteered to lead his convoy.

"He would do without so that someone could have. That's the way he was raised," older brother Allen Chance said.

The 25-year-old from Kokomo, Miss., was killed Nov. 6 when his truck hit a land mine near the Syrian border.

Chance usually stayed close to his parents' home, helping to care for his father, who is in a wheelchair and had served in Vietnam.

The last conversation Allen Chance had with his brother was about their ailing grandmother. "He was worried about her and he was trying to get it where he could come home for a few days to see her," he said. "He never could get around to it."

He is survived by his father, James Jr., and his mother, Patricia Ann.

— Associated Press

Mississippi Army National Guard Spc. James A. Chance III was killed in action on 11/06/03.