Army Specialist David J. Babineau, 25, of Springfield, Mass.
Spc. Babineau was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.; killed June 16 while manning a checkpoint when he came under enemy small arms fire in Baghdad. Two soldiers in the unit were listed as Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown (DUSTWUN): Pfc. Kristian Menchaca, 23, of Houston, and Pfc. Thomas L. Tucker, 25, of Madras, Ore.
by Leslie Boyd, LBOYD@CITIZEN-TIMES.COM
published June 20, 2006 12:15 am
MILLS RIVER — Kerri Francis worries her sister’s children won’t remember much about their father, Army Spc. David Babineau, a 25-year-old soldier killed at a traffic checkpoint south of Baghdad.
“He was a good father and a good husband — just a good person,” Francis said Monday. “I just want to be sure his kids know that.”
Francis said her sister, Rondi Babineau, is still in Oak Grove, Ky., waiting for her husband’s body to arrive in the United States.
The sisters attended Erwin High School, then Francis joined the military and was stationed at Fort Campbell, Ky.
When Rondi went to visit in 1999, she met Babineau and the two were married later that year.
Babineau was on his second tour in Iraq, one that had been extended indefinitely, when he and two other soldiers were attacked Friday.
The other two, Pfc. Kristian Menchaca, 23, and Pfc. Thomas L. Tucker, 25, are listed as missing. All three were assigned to B Company, 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, based in Fort Campbell, Ken.
“He believed in what he was doing,” Francis said.
After the family heard of his death, Francis and her mother and stepfather, Mark and Della Shepard, traveled to Fort Campbell, Ky., where he was stationed with the 101st Airborne and Rondi Babineau lives. They brought back his stepdaughter, Samantha Hensley, 9, and his older son, Donovan, 4.
“He knows his Daddy went to heaven,” Francis said. “I don’t think he really understands, and I don’t think he’ll remember much about his dad.”
Babineau was born and raised in Springfield, Mass.
“His wife and kids were everything to him,” Francis said. “He was a real hands-on dad. He just loved to get down on the floor and roll around with them.”
Francis said a memorial service was held in Iraq and Babineau will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. The family plans to travel to Arlington for a service when his body arrives there.
“Duty was important to him,” Francis said. “He re-enlisted. That was something he didn’t have to do. He didn’t have to be there.”
Spc. David “DJ” Babineau, 25, was shot dead Friday during an ambush by masked gunmen who began firing on his checkpoint from all directions. An al-Qaeda-linked group claimed responsibility for the attack and the abductions.
Babineau, who leaves behind two sons, ages 4 and 2, and an 8-year-old stepdaughter, was supposed to be home by now, but his tour in Iraq was extended, relatives said.
“He was supposed to be home in May,” his grieving mother, Dawn Babineau, said outside her home yesterday.
“He was a hero before the service, and he’s a hero now,” said one relative who asked for anonymity. “He did what he thought was right.”
Babineau’s relatives remembered him as a focused young man who joined the Boy Scouts when he was a child and decided to enlist in the Army after graduating from Springfield High School of Science and Technology in 1998. In his yearbook, Babineau predicted he’d be at the 20-year class reunion as a five-star general. His death shocked those who knew him as a friendly student.
“He died doing what he loved, what he wanted to be in life” said Gladys Franco, one of Babineau’s classmates who now teaches history at their alma mater.
“It’s sad that he had to go so young,” she said.
Army Specialist David J. Babineau was killed in action on 06/16/06.