Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Army Sgt. Stephen R. Maddies

Remember Our Heroes

Army Sgt. Stephen R. Maddies, 41, of Elizabethton, Tenn.

Sgt. Maddies was assigned to the 473rd Counter Rocket, Artillery and Mortar Platoon, Tennessee Army National Guard, Columbia, Tenn.; died July 31, 2007 in Baghdad of wounds sustained from enemy small-arms fire

BRISTOL - "We will always remember you, brother," were the final words displayed on a slideshow montage of Staff Sgt. Stephen R. Maddies' valued service to his country.

Maddies, 41, from Elizabethton, who was killed in Iraq on July 31 from small arms enemy fire, was remembered Sunday night at the Tennessee National Guard Armory in Bristol by friends, family and members of the 278th Armored Calvary Regiment F-Troop, which he deployed to Iraq with in 2004-05.

Maddies was only days away from ending his second tour in Operation Iraqi Freedom when he died. He was serving with the 473rd Counter Rocket Artillery and Mortar Platoon from Columbia.

He was laid to rest at Riverside National Cemetery in Sun City, Calif., Wednesday morning.

“Stephen was just one of those kinds of guys that comes along once in a great while,” said 1st Sgt. Marty Baker, who spoke at the ceremony. “Just a great, great guy. Stephen brought us happiness when times were just bad.”

The crowd in a bay at the armory numbered several hundred, full of respectful veterans, friends and others who wanted to pay their respects to Maddies.

All eyes were on the video screen as picture after picture of Maddies was shown, some of him in full battle dress and in the desert, others of him gently holding one of his children.

A mixed track of adrenaline-pumping rock and slow, mellow country accompanied the slideshow.

Veterans present Sunday, regardless of whether they knew Maddies personally, had a bond of brotherhood with him, Baker said.

“A lot of people don’t understand what we go through. Those veterans sitting among us ... you guys know the bond. You know the bond that grows right here,” Baker said gesturing toward his heart and choking back tears.

The 278th Deputy Regimental Commander Col. Frank McCauley gave an address, saying Maddies was everything that a good man was supposed to represent.

“I know he was a dependable CCO who made things happen,” McCauley said. “He never asked his men to do anything he wouldn’t do himself.”

Staff Sgt. John Spears read a poem that Maddies’ sister from Michigan wrote, which said some things she never got to say in life.

“So many gifts you left behind remain now and forever more,” Spears read. “Your spirit lives in each of us.”

After the remarks, the final roll call was given.

Silence fell after Maddies’ name was called and no reply was given.

A 21-gun salute was ordered in his honor and taps solemnly played, echoing throughout the bay.

McCauley explained to the crowd exactly why Maddies’ service and sacrifice would be remembered.

“In war zones, danger and death are a part of our lives,” McCauley said. “We place ourselves in harm’s way willingly, so others don’t have to. Sgt. Maddies paid the ultimate price for his country and for that he will always be remembered as a hero.”

Army Sgt. Stephen R. Maddies was killed in action on 7/31/07.

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