Monday, November 07, 2005

Army Specialist Robert C. Pope II

Remember Our Heroes

Army Specialist Robert C. Pope II, 22, of East Islip, New York.

Spc Pope died in Baghdad, Iraq, when a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device detonated near his dismounted patrol. He was assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Fort Carson, Colorado.

Newsday -- Army Spc. Robert Pope was stationed in Iraq, and dreamed of marrying his fiancee in a church. But he had another concern, too: her security.

So he married Lynnea, 24, in June by proxy, his family said.

"God forbid, if anything happened to him, he wanted her and [her 5-year-old son] Dylan to be taken care of," said Pope's father, Robert Sr., of East Islip. "He loved them very much."

Pope, 22, who was scheduled to come home in March, was killed Monday by a roadside bomb in Baghdad.

"I really thought he'd make it home," his mother, Regina, 47, said tearfully. "He was a hero; he didn't have to die, though."

The U.S. Department of Defense told the family Tuesday that Pope was on foot patrol Monday when at 5:15 p.m. Baghdad time a car bomb detonated, the department said.

A specialist assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment in Fort Carson, Colo., Pope and three other soldiers - ages 19 to 28 - were killed in the attack.

Pope, who graduated from East Islip High School in 2001 and attended Suffolk County Community College, enlisted in the Army in March 2003, motivated by the events of Sept. 11, 2001, his family said.

"It meant a lot to him, what he was doing," said Pope's father, Robert, 47.

"He thought he was doing the right thing over there, but at the same time he was looking to come home and do the right thing by his family."

Regina Pope, an aide at an elementary school, said her oldest child came home one day and told his parents he had joined the military - a decision they supported. "He just felt like he had to do this," she said.

Robert Pope, a millwright, said almost simultaneously: "He felt his country needed it."

Pope became the 14th soldier from Long Island and the second in as many weeks to die in the war in Iraq, the U.S. Department of Defense has said. His death follows the killing of Jared Kremm, 24, of Hauppauge, whose unit was caught in an explosion on Oct. 27.

Two weeks before he was killed, Pope's face was scraped by shrapnel when another roadside bomb exploded nearby, his family said.

"You could tell he was getting scared," Regina said of that incident. Pope wasn't badly hurt, but was even more eager to return home.

Pope regularly sent letters home to his family, which perused them yesterday as pictures of Pope were sprawled across a coffee table in their living room.

"I love you all very much," he wrote in one letter. "Please try not to worry; I'll be fine."

The photos showed Pope as a tight end for the East Islip High School Redmen, of Pope with Lynnea and Dylan, and as a soldier in boot camp.

Pope had just booked a Caribbean cruise, a vacation that would follow a wedding ceremony with his wife at the Huntington Town House in August, Regina Pope said.

At home, Pope doted on his sister, Kaitlyn, 14, who has cerebral palsy, his father said. "He just idolized her, loved her," he said. "She meant everything in the world to him."

Now the Pope family - his parents, sister and two brothers - is awaiting his body. Funeral arrangements will follow.

Mixed in with the sorrow, Robert Pope yesterday recalled watching New York Giants and Jets football games with his son over beers and laughs.

He was a great son," he said with a smile. "He was just terrific in every way."

Army Specialist Robert C. Pope II was killed in action on 11/07/05.

1 comment:

scottf21 said...

Bob was a good friend of mine. He had quite a sense of humor. I still laugh out loud from time to time thinking about all the funny things he said and did.

Miss you bud.