Thursday, April 29, 2004

Army Sgt. Ryan M. Campbell

Remember Our Heroes

Army Sgt. Ryan M. Campbell, 25, of Kirksville, Mo.

Sgt Campbell was assigned to 4th Battalion, 27th Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Armored Division, Baumholder, Germany; one of eight soldiers killed April 29, 2004 by a car bomb as his unit was doing a dismounted improvised-explosive device-sweep in Baghdad.

Memorial service for Kirksville soldier killed in Iraq
Associated Press

KIRKSVILLE, Mo. — Friends and family gathered May 7 for a memorial service honoring a soldier from northeast Missouri who was killed in Iraq.

Sgt. Ryan M. Campbell, 25, of Kirksville, was among eight killed April 29 in a car bombing in Iraq, the Department of Defense said.

Campbell was a member of the Army’s 4th Battalion, 27th Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Armored Division.

The soldiers were removing roadside bombs from a highway south of Baghdad. Campbell’s mother, Mary Ann MacCombie of Kirksville, said the unit intercepted a station wagon crammed with 500 pounds of ammunition, and the driver detonated an explosive.

Friends and family recalled Campbell as someone who cared about his soldiers as well as the Iraqi people, and that he had a special love for children.

Campbell was stationed in Germany before he was sent to Iraq. He originally had been expected to return to the United States in April, but his duty in Iraq was extended three months.

“He’s supposed to be home now,” said MacCombie, recalling that her son called twice the day before he died. “His last words were, ‘I’ll be back in July.”’

Campbell is also survived by his father, Mark Campbell.

Army Sgt. Ryan M. Campbell was killed in action on 4/29/04.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

New York Army National Guard Pfc. Nathan P. Brown

Remember Our Heroes

New York Army National Guard Pfc. Nathan P. Brown, 21, of South Glens Falls, N.Y.

Pfc Brown was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry, 1st Armored Division, Army National Guard, Glens Falls, N.Y.; killed April 11, 2004 when his patrol was ambushed in Samarra, Iraq.

New York guardsman remembered with full honors
By Kirstan Conley
Associated Press

GLENS FALLS, N.Y. — An American flag and Rick Brown’s face were reflected in the windows of St. Alphonsus Church here Tuesday.

Brown stared straight ahead as the flag was draped over the silver casket of his 21-year-old son, who was killed while serving in Iraq.

About 1,000 people waited inside the church to follow the fresh-faced New York Army National Guardsmen, who eventually would lead Nathan Brown’s body along the banks of the Hudson River to his plot in the Saratoga National Cemetery.

Brown, who attended South Glens Falls High School, died April 11 when a rocket-propelled grenade hit his Humvee in Samarra, Iraq, about 60 miles north of Baghdad. The attack also injured friends from Brown’s hometown who served with him in the Army National Guard’s 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry, based in Glens Falls.

Bishop Howard Hubbard of Albany noted how Brown’s death came on Easter Sunday, the same day people in the young soldier’s hometown celebrated the resurrection of Christ. The Christian faith, Hubbard said, is one of paradox: death brings life and suffering brings glory.

Members of Brown’s battalion carried his casket. Men in dress uniforms retired from battles dating back to World War II flushed as they strained to hold back tears.

Brown planned to get married and enroll in Adirondack Community College when he returned. Staff Sgt. Arthur Coon gave a eulogy, saying he was proud to recruit Brown. He said the military sent Brown a defective backpack, then a second one to replace it.

“He arrived to say his final goodbye and gave me the backpack,” Coon said. “It seemed like a simple gesture. He gave me the new one and kept the damaged one.”

Coon said he wants people to remember Brown’s generosity and positive attitude. He said a planned arsenal in Glens Falls should be named in Brown’s honor.

Brown’s friends, Robert Havens and Joe Nassivera, embraced after breaking down in tears as they tried to put in words what their friendship with Brown meant. Friends recalled Brown building forts, playing along the river and causing mischief.

Brown was buried with full military honors. Shots echoed across rolling green hills and cornfields as a seven-member rifle team fired its salute.

The soldier also received a special honor when members of the 3rd Battalion, 142nd Aviation Regiment of the New York Army National Guard flew five UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters from Albany International Airport to the service in a Missing Man Formation.

Maj. Gen. Thomas Maguire, a two-star general and the state’s highest-ranking National Guard officer, presented the family with a Bronze Star, a Purple Heart and a New York State Medal of Valor. The state Senate approved a resolution honoring Brown’s memory.

“What can I say and what can I do to mend the heartbreak of the family?” asked state Sen. Elizabeth Little of Warren County. “At a time when words seem very inadequate, I think the only thing we can do is through our presence and through our actions here today in this resolution and through our thoughts and prayers express our sorrow and sympathy to family and our gratitude.”

New York Army National Guard Pfc. Nathan P. Brown was killed in action on 4/11/04.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Army Spc. Isaac Michael Nieves

Remember Our Heroes

Army Spc. Isaac Michael Nieves, 20, of Unadilla, N.Y.

Spc Nieves was assigned to the Army’s 82nd Engineer Battalion, 1st Infantry Division, Bamberg, Germany; killed April 8, 2004 when individuals using an improvised explosive devise and small-arms fire attacked his combat patrol in Bani Saad, Iraq.

Fallen 20-year-old soldier remembered as a hero
By John Kekis
Associated Press

SIDNEY N.Y. — Gil Nieves smiled at the thought of how his big brother might have reacted.

“Isaac would have been crying if he were here seeing all these people,” Gil said Tuesday.

Instead, tears flowed from the eyes of many of the more than 300 people who attended a memorial mass for Spc. Isaac Michael Nieves. He was killed April 8 while on combat patrol in Bani Saad, Iraq.

“He was my brother and role model,” said Gil, a 19-year-old plebe at West Point. “Those memories will never fade away.”

Nieves, of Unadilla, was assigned to the 82nd Engineer Battalion, 1st Infantry Division, in Bamberg, Germany. He was supposed to be rotated back to Fort Hood, Texas in December and wanted to come home. Instead, the Army invoked a stop-loss program aimed at keeping the number of U.S. forces overseas steady.

Nieves, 20, was sent to Iraq in February. He was patrolling about 25 miles northeast of Baghdad when his detachment came under fire from small arms and a homemade bomb.

“At West Point, we live by three words — duty, honor, country. Until recently, those words were without much meaning,” Gil said. “Isaac lived by my motto and gave the ultimate sacrifice. I can only hope to be half the leader.”

Nieves was awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, National Defense Service Medal and the Go To War On Terrorism Medal posthumously.

“These are our heroes,” Rev. Gordon Polenz said in his homily. “Isaac brings it close to us. I’m sure he’d do it again.”

Nieves, one of Gilbert and Maria Nieves’ 10 children, dreamed of being an architectural engineer. But his family has a strong history of military service, so he enlisted after graduating from Sidney High School in 2001, where he played football, ran track, and captained the wrestling team.

“He was an altar boy in this church with his brother, and they weren’t the most pious altar boys. There were times I had to speak to them,” Polenz said with a smile. “There is no age that is old enough to die, but we have to be prepared for it. We hope Isaac kept a twinkle in his eye. Now his spirit is free.”

“I never thought I’d live to see the day I would be giving this speech,” Nieves’ sister, Maria, said. “But as long as that flag stands strong, his memory will live on forever. I love you little man.”

Gil was one of six pallbearers who slowly pushed the flag-draped casket carrying his brother the short distance from the funeral home to the church. Family members followed in a solemn procession.

“I’m a military man myself,” said Isaac’s father, who served five months in Vietnam. “I guess I’m not mourning him no more. I’m just celebrating his legacy.”

“I’m doing OK,” said Isaac’s 10-year-old brother, Kevin. “I’m stronger than before. I’m proud of him now.”

American flags decorated several porches and freshly tied yellow ribbons hugged every tree trunk along Main Street in Sidney, a poignant reminder of what happens in war.

“It’s a trying time for the whole community,” said 59-year-old James Barnhart, owner of the funeral home that handled the arrangements for Nieves. “We had seven die in Vietnam, and this brings a lot of that memory back.”

Nieves is survived by his wife, Amy. He will be buried Wednesday at Saratoga National Cemetery in Schuylerville, N.Y.

Upstate soldier killed in Iraq
BINGHAMTON, N.Y. — A 20-year-old soldier from upstate New York was among those killed in fighting this week in Iraq, according to the Defense Department.

Spc. Isaac Michael Nieves, of Unadilla, was patrolling Bani Saad, about 25 miles northeast of Baghdad, when his detachment came under fire from small arms and a homemade bomb, the Department of Defense reported Saturday.

Nieves died Thursday, becoming the first service member from the Southern Tier to die in action since President Bush began military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. He was assigned to the 82nd Engineer Battalion, 1st Infantry Division, in Bamberg, Germany.

His wife returned from a trip out of town and her parents met her to break the news.

“I opened my mouth to say something and all that came out were these horrid screams,” she said.

Amy Nieves met her husband in 1995, when they were in fifth grade. Their older sisters conspired to get them together, and he asked her to a dance.

They went even though she had the flu. She spent most of the night in the bathroom and didn’t dance until the party was over.

“He grabbed me and started dancing,” she said. “I said, ‘You can’t dance without music.”’ He sang “Stand by Me” in her ear.

Soon after graduating from high school in 2001, Nieves proposed.

He wanted to be an architectural engineering, but his family has a strong history of military service. His father is a Vietnam veteran; his brother-in-law Daniel Wayman is an Air Force senior airman. His younger brother, 19-year-old Gil, is a cadet at West Point.

When he got out of the Army, he was going to go to college, maybe to become a biology teacher.

“He wished he had gone to college and done things differently,” Amy Nieves said.

Still, he was proud of his work as a demolitions expert. Combat engineers are often ahead of other units, clearing the way of minefields and building bridges. And they’re often the last units to leave, blowing up the bridges and laying minefields to protect retreating troops.

Isaac Nieves was supposed to be rotated back to Fort Hood in Texas in December and wanted to come home. Instead, the Army invoked a stop-loss program and kept him in Bamberg, Germany, with the 1st Infantry Division. Then it sent him to Iraq. That was last month.

Nieves and her husband’s family — Gilbert and Maria Nieves of Unadilla and their nine surviving children — have met with U.S. Army officials to begin the process of bringing Isaac’s body home to a funeral, but arrangements are incomplete.

— Associated Press

Army Spc. Isaac Michael Nieves was killed in action on 04/08/04.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Marine Lance Cpl. Travis J. Layfield

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Lance Cpl. Travis J. Layfield, 19, of Fremont, California.

Lance Cpl. Layfield died due to hostile fire in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. He was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, California.
By Eleanor Yang
April 10, 2004

Lance Cpl. Travis Layfield knew from the time he joined ROTC in junior high school that he was bound for the military.

While training at Camp Pendleton last August, Layfield sent family members enthusiastic letters.

"This is where I need to be," he wrote to his cousin Ashley Mills. "This is who I am."

"He was such a proud Marine," Mills said.

Layfield, a 19-year-old rifleman, died Tuesday from hostile fire in Al Anbar province, Iraq.

High school friends and members of his large, tightknit family planned to gather in last night for a candlelight vigil in his honor.

Many praise his generous spirit.

When his older sister, Tiffany Bolton, was juggling raising a 4-year-old with finishing college, Layfield volunteered to take care of her son at night for six months.

"He had a very big heart," said Bolton, 31. "He thought of everyone above himself."

Layfield had two passions in life: being in the military and working on his 1964 Ford Galaxy. He souped up the car -- restored the paint, installed a stereo system and worked under its hood.

Family members recalled how he liked to watch The History Channel and talk war with his grandfather, who was a Navy Seabee in World War II.

At school, Layfield did his own thing.

"Some kids run in certain circles," Bolton said. "He didn't fall into those crowds. He didn't care what people said or thought."

Layfield, who had been in Iraq since March, told his family he was shaken about what he saw, not dispirited.

"It was so much to take in," Bolton said. "He'd do anything for his country."

Associated Press

Travis J. Layfield was a history buff who used to watch films on World War II on the History Channel as a boy.

His grandfather was a Navy Seabee, which may have influenced his decision to join the Navy ROTC in high school. He enlisted in the Marine Corps right after high school graduation.

Lance Cpl. Layfield, 19, of Fremont, Calif., was killed April 6 during a battle in Iraq’s Anbar province. He was based at Camp Pendleton, Calif. Layfield had been enthusiastic about going to Iraq.

"He always said he was excited to go," said Layfield's cousin Ashley Mills, 19. "But you could see in his face he was a little scared ... He always assured us he was ready to go and that he would come back."

"He thought this would be his career, the Marines," said his sister, Tiffany Bolton, 31. "We were very proud of him."

Other survivors include his parents, Diane Bolton Layfield and John Layfield.

Marine Lance Cpl. Travis J. Layfield was killed in action on 04/06/04.

Marine Lance Cpl. Anthony P. Roberts

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Lance Cpl. Anthony P. Roberts, 18, of Bear, Del.

LCpl Roberts was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.; killed April 6, 2004 by hostile fire in Anbar province, Iraq.

Funeral held for Delaware Marine killed in Iraq
By Randall Chase
Associated Press

NEW CASTLE, Del. — With his T-ball bat and baseball caps just a few paces from his flag-draped coffin, 18-year-old Anthony P. Roberts was memorialized Wednesday as a loving son, brother and friend, and a dedicated Marine who died fighting for his country.

The Delaware teenager was one of several Marines killed in combat in Ramadi, Iraq, on April 6, barely six months after he graduated from boot camp and less than eight weeks after he arrived in Iraq.

About 300 people turned out under rainy skies Wednesday to pay their last respects to “Little Tony,” a lance corporal who graduated from Middletown High School last year.

Mourners who gathered at Victory Christian Fellowship heard condolences from Roberts’ friends and family members, as well as letters from dignitaries. In a letter to Emma Roberts, former President Bill Clinton wrote that the nation owes her son “a profound debt” for his service.

Army Staff Sgt. Matthew James praised Roberts for her courage in time of grief and said her son, like every good Marine, put aside any fear or misgivings he might have had and followed orders that sent him into harm’s way.

“Job well done,” James said.

Roberts, a Philadelphia native, attended Deer Park Elementary School in Owings Mills, Md., and Deer Park Middle School in Randallstown, Md., before his family moved to Delaware. As a youngster, he enjoyed sports, music, reading and computer games.

In his eulogy, Senior Pastor Gary Whetstone assured mourners that death was not an end for Roberts, but a doorway to heaven. He also noted the liberty and freedom on which America was founded and for which Roberts died.

“No man and no tyranny on this earth will ever take it from us,” Whetstone said.

After the church service, mourners gathered at the Delaware Veterans Cemetery for a brief indoor service as rain continued to fall.

Roberts sat next to her son’s coffin and dabbed at her eyes with a tissue as tributes and words of encouragement were read. A 21-gun salute from a Marine honor guard outside broke the quiet air, followed by “Taps” from a pair of buglers and “Amazing Grace” from the Delaware State Police bagpipe and drum corps.

At the end of the service, mourners gathered in a circle outside as a lone white dove, signifying “peace, love and remembrance” was released into the air.

The dove flew over the cemetery briefly before disappearing into the gray mist.

Marine Lance Cpl. Anthony P. Roberts was killed in action on 4/6/04.

Sunday, April 04, 2004

Army Sgt. Yihjyh L. Chen

Remember Our Heroes

Army Sgt. Yihjyh L. Chen, 31, of Saipan, Marianas Protectorate

Sgt Chen was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas; killed April 4, 2004 when his unit was attacked with rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire in Baghdad.

Soldier’s death inspires Saipan youth to enter military
Associated Press

SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands — A Saipan soldier’s death in Iraq has inspired interest in joining the military among local high school students in this U.S. commonwealth, an official said.

The death of Army Sgt. Yihjyh “Eddie” Chen, a former Saipan police officer, has reinvigorated a sense of patriotism among local residents, said Public Safety Commissioner Edward Camacho.

The 31-year-old infantryman was killed April 4 when his unit was attacked in Baghdad. He was assigned to Fort Hood, Texas.

Camacho, who was Chen’s instructor at the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Police Academy, said more students have indicated their desire to serve their nation.

“It’s a very good cause,” said Camacho, who still teaches at the academy.

Chen was originally from Taiwan before he and his parents migrated to Saipan. He graduated from Marianas High School and graduated salutatorian from the 13th Police Academy Cycle in 1996.

“He was one of my best students,” said Camacho.

Nathan Techur, Miles King and Jan Reyes, all 15 and JROTC cadets at Marianas High, said they want to become soldiers. Each youth said he has family members who are either in the Air Force, the Navy or the Army.

Chen’s death has not discouraged them from entering the military in the future, they said.

“I want to protect my family,” said Techur.

“I want to protect the nation. ... It’s worth it,” said Reyes.

King’s uncle, Dr. Kenneth Crisostomo, is serving as a medic in Afghanistan and regularly writes to his nephew about the wounded soldiers they treat.

King said he, too, wants to serve as a soldier.

“By the way I read and heard it, it sounds like a good cause,” he said.

Camacho said the commonwealth’s police force planned to hold sports events in honor of Chen.

“What we’re trying to do is to give him (and those) still in Iraq some recognition,” he said.

Chen’s parents now live on Guam, but officials say they cannot join the tribute for their son on Saipan because Camachos’ department has no budget for their travel expenses.

Army Sgt. Yihjyh L. Chen was killed in action on 04/04/04.