Sunday, September 03, 2006

Army Sgt. 1st Class Richard J. Henkes II

Remember Our Heroes

Army Sgt. 1st Class Richard J. Henkes II, 32, of Portland Ore.

Sgt. Henkes was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Lewis, Wash.; died Sept. 3 of injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle during combat operations in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Sergeant’s love for family made him platoon father
NCO from 2-3 Inf. Bn. was on second Iraq tour

By Bob Reinert, Northwest Guardian
Published: September 14th, 2006 12:34 PM

According to his sister, Sgt. 1st Class Richard J. Henkes II was a man with two families — his own and the Army.
“And he loved them both,” said Army Capt. Linda Bass, who spoke at her brother’s memorial service Tuesday afternoon in the Fort Lewis Main Post Chapel, where friends, family and fellow Soldiers gathered to honor his memory.

“He was the best, the finest noncommissioned officer I’ve ever met in my life,” Bass said. “He was a tough but fair leader.”

Henkes, 32, was with C Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Bridgade, 2nd Infantry Division (SBCT) in Mosul, Iraq, Sept. 3 when he was killed by an improvised explosive device that detonated near his Stryker vehicle. His sister accompanied his body home to Oregon from Dover Air Force Base.

“It was a very long and arduous journey,” Bass recalled. “It’s the hardest duty I’ve ever had to perform in my life.”

In addition to Bass, Henkes’ family included his 6-year-old daughter, Isabel, his sister, Tammy Henkes, his father, Richard Henkes Sr., and his mother, Christine Stanton.

Henkes’ funeral had been held Monday at the National Guard Armory in Woodburn, Ore. He was a graduate of Clackamas, Ore. High School. Bass said Henkes struggled at times living up to his commitments to his family and the Army. She added, however, that Isabel always came first. “She was the No. 1,” Bass said.

Henkes was part of a military family whose members also served in World War I and World War II. He had entered the Army in June 1992, served for a time in the Army National Guard and then went back on active duty. He arrived at Fort Lewis in August 1997. He was recently promoted to sergeant first class. He led 2nd Platoon in Iraq.

“It takes a special leader, a platoon sergeant, to hold those guys together as a team,” said Maj. Robert J. Bennett, 3rd Bde., 2nd Div. rear detachment commander. Bennett called Henkes “one of the best platoon sergeants we have had.”

Bennett said Henkes was sought out by Soldiers for more than his teaching ability or expertise.

“He was the guy they (went) to to keep their spirits up,” Bennett said. “Overseas in Iraq, he truly became the father of the platoon.”

First Sgt. Robert C. Braddock read a number of e-mails sent from Iraq by Henke’s Soldiers. They related that Henke was a man with a good heart who gave candy, water and MREs to Iraqi children, a man who was good at his job.

“I would ask all of you just to remember him for who he was,” Bass said.

His awards and decorations included the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal (1 Oak-Leaf Cluster), Army Achievement Medal (4 Oak-Leaf Cluster), Army Good Conduct Medal (4th Award) , National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Korean Defense Service Medal (2nd Award), Combat Infantryman’s Badge, Expert Infantryman’s Badge and the Air Assault Badge.

Army Sgt. 1st Class Richard J. Henkes II was killed in action on 9/03/06.

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