Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Army Specialist Nathan J. Frigo

Remember Our Heroes

Army Specialist Nathan J. Frigo, 23, of Kokomo, Indiana

Spc. Frigo was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colorado. Died Oct. 17 in Baqubah, Iraq, of injuries suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. Also killed were Staff Sgt. Ryan E. Haupt, 24, of Phoenix, Ariz. and Sgt. Norman R. Taylor III, 21, of Blythe, California.

Family says Nathan Frigo was proud to serve

Tribune staff writer

Pfc. Nathan Joseph Frigo died doing what he wanted to do: serving in Iraq as a member of the U.S. Army.

The 23-year-old son of Maureen Frigo, of Kokomo, and Fred Frigo, of Indianapolis, was one of three soldiers based at Fort Carson, Colo., who were killed when a bomb exploded near their vehicle in Baqubah, a city northeast of Baghdad.

Frigo, Staff Sgt. Ryan E. Haupt, 24, of Phoenix, and Sgt. Norman R. Taylor III, 21, of Blythe, Calif., were assigned to 1st Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment in the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, which is part of 4th Infantry Division.

His family issued a statement Friday regarding his life.

“Our only son and brother, Nathan, was deeply loved by family and friends and esteemed by strangers. He knew the risks of service, faced the dangers of combat and honorably fought for what he valued and believed in.

“He served his family. He served his country, but most importantly, he served his Lord. There are no words to express how greatly he will be missed. Our hearts grieve with the families of those who died serving with Nate. God be with us all.”

Speaking for her family, his sister Sarah spoke of Nate in more intimate detail.

The 2001 Northwestern High School graduate trained his entire life to be in the military, she explained.

“He wanted to join the military as a child,” Sarah said Friday night from the living room of her mother’s house near the Cass County line. “We tried to dissuade him, but he wouldn’t turn from this. When we asked him why he wanted to do it, he said he wanted to make a difference with his life. He wanted to do something that mattered.

“He went into the infantry because he wanted to fill the area of greatest need. Army infantry is a very small area of our military.”

With her mother, father and sister Beth present, she remembered how her only brother wanted to go to Iraq and serve on the front line. Even when he came home on leave for two weeks at the end of July, his mind was still on those with whom he served.

“He couldn’t stop thinking of how much his troops there needed him,” she said.

“Our uncle said he was the type of man you would want to go into battle with because you knew you could depend on him.”

That wouldn’t surprise Harold Seamon, who was Frigo’s principal at Northwestern. He noted that while Frigo had a mischievous grin, he would describe him as a “very respectful, pleasant school citizen.”

“He had a real sense of duty, one that made him memorable,” Seamon said.

“It saddens me that he had to make this sacrifice.”

Sarah remembered how much the family enjoyed having him home on his last leave.

“It was a little bit of heaven for him. He got to do everything he wanted on that leave. God gave him everything he wanted while he was home,” she said.

His father noted that he ran cross country and track while at Northwestern, that he studied karate, was a member of the Flying Squirrels, that he was a hunter and how he loved paintball.

“Nate had a lot of talents, and they defined his interests,” Sarah said, “but he was more than that.

“Nate was also a Christian, and he lived the life of a Christian. He was an honorable man. He had high values, and he lived them in life. We know he is living them still in heaven,” she continued.

“He was one of those guys who any parent would want to have as a son and would make them proud. He definitely shouldered his share of problems for us.”

One of the greatest gifts, his mother said, “was he could make you laugh without even trying.”

“Nate could take a serious story and turn it into something light,” Sarah said.

He proclaimed himself a “simple kinda guy” on his MySpace page, an Internet networking site, which he logged into the day before he was killed.

One of Frigo’s high school friends and classmates paints a picture of a quiet young man.

“He was really quiet until you go to know him,” Erica Knight said. “He was an all-around really nice guy.”

She said he was proud of being in the military.

“Once he kind of decided that this was the route he was going to take, he was so dedicated to it,” Knight said. “It was like ‘This is what I believe in and I want to help in any way I can.’”

For the last three or four months, Knight and Frigo spoke every few weeks on MySpace.

They talked about Iraq. They talked about high school. But mostly, they talked about his hometown, she said.

“He talked a little bit about — I can’t say ‘enjoying’ what he was doing — but it was a good experience,” she said.

Frigo was among nine soldiers and one Marine killed by roadside bombs and enemy fire Tuesday, the military said.

“Our hearts go out to the families of the other men who were killed with him and with the others who have lost family members there and elsewhere,” Sarah said. “We understand and we care about them. We want to pray for them, too.”

Frigo reported for active duty April 2005, and completed his training at Fort Benning, Ga. At that time, he chose the position of infantryman as his military occupation. He had volunteered to serve a four-year tour of duty.

He is the seventh Kokomo area man and 68th person from Indiana to have died after being sent to the Mideast since the buildup for the invasion of Iraq began in 2003.

The family has been notified that he will be elevated to specialist and awarded a Bronze Star and Purple Heart.

“The government has been more than generous helping military families get through these crises,” his sister said. “We are thankful for the United States.”

While many disagree with America being involved militarily in Iraq, Sarah said her brother believed U.S. involvement was not only right, but necessary.

“Nate would want people to support the troops there and their families. He believed in what he did over there and that we needed to be there,” she explained, “otherwise it would be on our own shores.

“He really made us proud.”

Army Specialist Nathan J. Frigo was killed in action on 10/17/06.

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