Monday, July 23, 2007

Army Pfc. Zachary R. Endsley

Remember Our Heroes

Army Pfc. Zachary R. Endsley, 21, of Spring, Texas

Pfc. Endsley was assigned to 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, Hohenfels, Germany; died July 23, 2007 in Arghendab district, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when his unit was attacked by enemy forces using indirect fire.

A Houston-area soldier was killed this week when his unit was attacked in Afghanistan, the Department of Defense said Wednesday.

Pfc. Zachary R. Endsley, 21, died Monday in Arghendab District, Afghanistan.

Family and friends gathered at his home in Spring to remember the fallen soldier on Wednesday. Yellow ribbons wrapped the trees surrounding Endsley's home.

He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, Hohenfels, Germany and in Afghanistan since January.

"We were actually elated that he got to Afghanistan and not Iraq," said Endsley's stepfather David Carrol. "We felt like it would be better, however, the last few weeks it heated up again, and he was in the line of fire."

Endsley's MySpace page filled up with messages from his friends around the country after news broke of his death.

He was a graduate of the Oakridge High School in 2004 where his family says he was a member of the ROTC.

The half-dozen pictures lined up on a coffee table in a Spring home are a sobering reminder of the cost of war for one Montgomery County family.

Family and friends say they will remember Pfc. Zachary R. Endsley, 21, as a quiet, witty "jokester" full of creative talent.

Endsley, who was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, died July 23 in Arghendab District, Afghanistan, when his unit was attacked by Taliban forces.

His sacrifice makes him a hero, his stepfather, David Carroll, said.

"He was a free spirit, and he was never afraid to try new things," Carroll said. "He knew exactly what he wanted to do."

Endsley, a 2004 graduate of Oak Ridge High School, enjoyed computer games, music and drawing. A talented artist, Endsley won a poster contest in high school. Carroll said he would often come home from work to find Endsley and his friends gathered around the living room strumming guitars.

"He had a quiet nature, but a quick wit," Carroll said. "He used laughter and pranks to entertain others."

He was also active in the youth group at Crossroads Baptist Church, where the Carrolls are involved in the worship ministry.

Neighbors, community members and those from the Carrolls' church have rallied around the family, tying yellow ribbons around tree trunks, bringing food and lining the family's driveway with flags.

A "Welcome Home, Zachary" sign outside the family home reflects the fact that the young man was due to be home in about three weeks.

This is the second time in less than six months the congregation, located in The Woodlands, has hosted such a service. In March, Cory Kosters, 19, was killed in Iraq when his vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device.

"Two of the first people who were here (the night of July 23) after we were told (about Endsley's death) were Marlon and Senta (Kosters, Cory's parents)," Carroll said, adding the Kosters brought the couple a woven blanket that the Carrolls had given the Kosters to comfort them after Cory's death.

Paraphrasing from II Corinthians, Crossroads Pastor Larry York said, "God comforts us in our trials and tribulations in order for us to comfort others.

"That is what Marlon and Senta get to do now. They are comforting Zach's family."

As a teenager, Endsley joined the Civil Air Patrol, a volunteer support organization of the U.S. Air Force, and belonged to the Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps at Oak Ridge High School.

"He was fascinated by guns; he liked shooting them and taking them apart," David Carroll said.

After graduation, Endsley enrolled in Montgomery College, but his interest in studying waned. A desire "to be where the action is," David Carroll said, beckoned Endsley to explore military service as a career. He showed an initial interest in the U.S. Marines but surprised his family by enlisting in the U.S. Army in December 2005.

A high score on a military placement test put him in a coveted position to choose his job in the Army. David Carroll remembers the conversation around the kitchen table.

"The recruiter said, 'You can have any job you want,'" he said. "Zach responded, 'I want to be in the infantry.'

"We were at war. He knew there was a danger. But he didn't want to just go over there and build stuff or blow stuff up. He wanted to be where the action was."

Endsley's enthusiasm also inspired a neighbor and friend, Blake Childers, to join the Army, according to David Carroll.

Although he was excited to be stationed in Afghanistan, David Carroll said Endsley likely sensed his family feared for his safety, which is why he kept communication brief and left out many details about his time there.

"To this day we don't know where exactly he was," he said. "Zach saw that as protection. He wanted to protect his mom from worrying."

The family is now waiting for waiting for Endsley's body to be transported home.

"From a grandmother's heart, this aches," Virginia Fisher, Endsley's maternal grandmother, said.

Zachary Endsley is survived by his mother, Melinda Carroll; stepfather, David Carroll; father, Terry Endsley; brother, Aaron Endsley; two stepsisters, Katie Petty and Kimberly Worthington, and their families.

Army Pfc. Zachary R. Endsley was killed in action on 7/23/07.

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