Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Army Pfc. Zachary R. Gullett

Remember Our Heroes

Army Pfc. Zachary R. Gullett, 20, of Hillsboro, Ohio

Pfc. Gullett assigned to the 984th Military Police Company, 759th Military Police Battalion, 89th Military Police Brigade, Fort Carson, Colo.; died May 1, 2007 in Baghdad as a result of a non-combat-related incident. His death is under investigation.

The Columbus Dispatch -- As Pfc. Zachary Gullett boarded a plane to return to duty in Iraq after a 15-day leave at home in Hillsboro, another passenger noticed his uniform and offered him his first-class seat.

"The man told Zachary, 'I'm proud of what you're doing,' " Gullett's mother, Connie, said yesterday. "That meant so much to him."

Zachary Gullett, 20, died Tuesday after he collapsed while exercising, his family said. He was with the Army's 984th Military Police Co., stationed in Ad Diwaniyah, Iraq. The cause of death was not yet known.

Gullett suffered a concussion when his unit was attacked in mid-March while patrolling south of Baghdad. Mrs. Gullett said her son was the gunner in the first vehicle, and debris from the blast hit him in the head.

The 2004 Hillsboro High School graduate had been home on scheduled leave since just after Easter and had been back in Iraq less than a week when he died. He joined the Army in February 2006 and was deployed Sept. 16 for a 12-month tour of duty.

Mrs. Gullett was grateful for the time she had with him when he was on leave. "It was too short," she said through tears.

She said her son had always wanted to be a police officer, and he felt very strongly about what he and his comrades were trying to establish in Iraq. While he was home, he was surprised at news coverage of Iraq.

"He said, 'They don't show anything good. They don't show the schools we're building or the people who thank us,' " Mrs. Gullett said.

Her son took time during his recent leave to visit the high school in Hillsboro, about 50 miles east of Cincinnati, where he spoke to students in history classes. He joked about the camels and the heat, but he also described his mission.

Gullett was a hard-working student who was involved in the band and community-service groups, played football and starred in school productions of The Wizard of Oz and My Fair Lady.

Being involved in drama club helped bring out Gullett's confidence, said Principal Larry Stall, who gave his former student one last hug before he returned to Iraq.

Stall has a wall in the main office honoring more than a dozen Hillsboro grads that have gone onto the military, he said. Gullett was always kind and willing to listen and help people.

"It's a moment of pride for us, but to lose one, it's just upsetting," he said.

Army Pfc. Zachary R. Gullett died upon collapsing after excercise in Iraq on 5/1/07.

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