Thursday, March 23, 2006

Army Sgt. 1st Class Randy D. McCaulley

Remember Our Heroes

Army Sgt. 1st Class Randy D. McCaulley, 44, Indiana, Pa.

Sgt. 1st Class McCaulley was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 110th Infantry, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 28th Infantry Division, Pennsylvania Army National Guard, Indiana, Pa.; killed March 23 when his dismounted patrol came under enemy small arms fire during combat operations in Habbaniyah, Iraq.

By A.J. Panian

As Maj. Richard Collage of the Pennsylvania National Guard spoke of the war's cost in Iraq at Seton Hill University in Greensburg last week, he silently bore the knowledge that its human toll had hit far too close to home.

On Thursday, Collage learned that Staff Sgt. Randy McCaulley, 44, of Marion Center, was shot by insurgents at 3:45 p.m., Iraqi time, during routine combat patrol with his unit in Mudiz. McCaulley died at Camp Taqaddum Shock and Trauma Center.

McCaulley's death is the first in combat since World War II for a member of the state National Guard's Company A, 1st Battalion, 1-110th Infantry, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 28th Infantry Division in White Township, Indiana County.

"He was a soldier among soldiers," said his father, the Rev. James McCaulley of Bible Baptist Church in Indiana. "He was a very upbeat man, and everybody who knew him loved him." He also is survived by his mother, Donna.

"It's very difficult. This is not a nameless, faceless loss. Randy's like part of our family," said Collage after a news conference Saturday at the Indiana Armory in Indiana. "It's been difficult all along, but it really steps it up a little bit whenever something like this happens because we haven't experienced it. It's difficult enough telling families they've had a loved one that was wounded. This is just a whole other feeling."

A 1979 graduate of Marion Center High School, McCaulley served in the U.S. Army from 1979 to 1983. He joined the Pennsylvania National Guard in 1984. He had spent 15 years on active duty.

Pennsylvania National Guardsmen make up most of the 3,500-member 2nd Brigade Combat Team stationed in Ramadi since late June 2005, including 70 members of the 110th.

McCaulley was shot when his patrol encountered insurgents on foot, Collage said. Also killed in the attack was Staff Sgt. Brock A. Beery, 30, of White House, Tenn., the U.S. Department of Defense announced.

"They were given an area to patrol, and the mission, troops, time and terrain dictated that they dismount their vehicles, and there are insurgents in the area where they're located, that's why we're there," Collage said.

McCaulley, a father to sons Cody and Justin, will be remembered as a down-to-earth man who got along with his military comrades, Collage said.

"He was a well-liked soldier with a great sense of humor who could bring a little levity to a tough situation and make it easier to get through," Collage said.

Military service was a part of McCaulley's family, said his father during a telephone interview yesterday.

"His six uncles served in World War II, two of them also served in Korea, and two of his cousins were helicopter pilots in Vietnam," said Rev. McCaulley, who served active duty in the Pennsylvania National Guard in 1958. "We love our son very much, and we are absolutely 100 percent proud of him. He was doing what he believed in. He loved God and his country, and he was serving heroically."

Rev. McCaulley keeps a book, nearly 2 inches thick, filled with Randy's military awards. They include the Army Good Conduct Medal, Overseas Service Ribbon, Army Commendation Medal, Air Assault Badge and the Combat Infantryman's Badge.

Randy McCaulley was posthumously promoted to the rank of sergeant first class and will be awarded the Purple Heart. He is the 24th soldier of the Pennsylvania National Guard to be killed in the war, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.

McCaulley was an avid sports fan. He worked as a mechanic for several garages in Indiana.

"Everybody has opinions about it. But I think what people need to take away from it is our soldiers from our hometowns across Western Pennsylvania and across all of Pennsylvania are in a very dangerous place doing very hard work and doing an outstanding job," Collage said.

Army Sgt. 1st Class Randy D. McCaulley was killed in action on 03/23/06.

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