Sunday, February 04, 2007

Army Pvt. Clarence T. Spencer

Remember Our Heroes

Army Pvt. Clarence T. Spencer, 24, of San Diego

Pvt. Spencer was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas; died Feb. 4, 2007 in Balad, Iraq, of wounds sustained when his unit came in contact with the enemy using small arms fire in Baqubah.

Fort Worth soldier killed in Iraq action


CLARENCE SPENCERFORT WORTH -- Sheer habit led Juanita Cole to check her e-mails Tuesday, looking for a new one from her son.

Four times her son had been sent to Iraq, three with the Marines, this last time with the Army, and e-mails were about the only way she knew he was OK.

That was what he always told her: "I'm going to be OK, Mama."

But the last e-mail in her basket was dated Jan. 31, and she knew it would be the last one.

Soldiers from Fort Hood had come to her home Sunday afternoon to tell her that Pvt. Clarence Spencer, 24, had been killed in action in Iraq that morning.

"I just fell out," Cole said. "I didn't see anything. I couldn't hear anything. It still hasn't settled in."

The news hit hard for those who knew Pvt. Spencer, who was a dedicated leader in Dunbar High School's JROTC program and an all-district strong safety on the football team. He graduated from Dunbar in 2001.

"He had a huge heart," said Bob Jones, who was the head coach at Dunbar at the time. "He was a kid who brightened up the room when he walked in. He was enthusiastic in everything he did, and it was contagious. He made it special to come to work."

Pvt. Spencer was born Nov. 26, 1982, in Fort Worth and reared in the Stop Six neighborhood. He toured Wichita (Kan.) State University as a high-school senior. He had a scholarship offer, his mother said, and she thought he was serious about it.

"We even toured the dorm rooms," she said.

Before she knew it, though, a Marine recruiter was at her house. Her son announced his intention to join the service instead.

"I was surprised, but I was all for it," she said.

Retired Army Sgt. 1st Class Don Harris, a JROTC instructor at Dunbar, said Pvt. Spencer enjoyed -- needed, really -- challenges, especially the masculine kind. He was a member of the color guard and the drill team when few other athletes at school bothered with JROTC at all.

"He was always the first to raise his hand when there was something hard to do," Harris said. "He had the grades and the mind to do anything in the service, but of course he chose the combat arms. He was a stud."

His mother said he went through Marine Corps boot camp like "it was a breeze," and his drill instructor joked with her that it was difficult to find anything difficult enough to wipe the little half-smile off his face.

He served in the Marines four years and completed three tours in Iraq. He earned a Purple Heart when he was wounded in action on Sept. 17, 2003, his mother said.

His family often quizzed him about what went on in Iraq, but he didn't share much. His mother knew he was devastated after he switched places in a Humvee with a close friend, who was then badly injured by a roadside bomb.

She also knew he didn't always sleep well when he came home to visit.

"I saw how it affected him," she said. "I'd wake him up, and he'd jump to his feet, ready to fight. I would say, 'Baby, what's the matter?' He'd say, 'Mama, there's some things I can talk about and some things I can't.'

"And I told him, 'Baby, you need to talk to someone about it.'"

His former teachers at Dunbar looked forward to visits from Pvt. Spencer. He dropped by Dunbar to check in on people such as Jones and Harris.

"That's when we as educators know we have made a difference," Jones said.

Pvt. Spencer enjoyed the Marines and wanted to make the military a career. But he wanted to be closer to his family in Fort Worth, so he joined the Army after his enlistment in the Marines ended.

He asked to be stationed at Fort Hood, where he joined the 1-12 Combined Arms Battalion in the 1st Cavalry Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team. He left for Iraq with that division in October.

Pvt. Spencer married a soldier, Shanta Spencer, in September before deploying. He has a 5-year-old daughter in Fort Worth, Chania Spencer, and a sister, Shaneika Bell, his mother said.

Army Pvt. Clarence T. Spencer was killed in action on 02/04/07.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So hard to say good bye