Monday, September 10, 2007

Army Spc. Steven R. Elrod

Remember Our Heroes

Army Spc. Steven R. Elrod, 20, of Hope Mills, N.C.

Spc. Elrod was assigned to the 1st Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.; died Sept. 10, 2007 in Baghdad of injuries sustained in a non-combat-related vehicle rollover. Also killed were Staff Sgt. Yance T. Gray, Staff Sgt. Gregory Rivera-Santiago, Sgt. Michael C. Hardegree, Sgt. Omar L. Mora, Sgt. Nicholas J. Patterson and Spc. Ari D. Brown-Weeks.

News 14 Carolina -- FAYETTEVILLE -- Specialist Steven R. Elrod, 20, was a highly decorated soldier, garnering a number of awards since he joined the Army in February 2006. His military career ended this week in Iraq.

Elrod was one of seven soldiers with the 1st Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team who died after their truck rolled over near Baghdad. They’re part of the 82nd Airborne Division unit that deployed to Iraq in January as part of President Bush’s "troop surge."

Before he was a paratrooper, Steven Elrod was a student at Massey Hill Classical High School in Fayetteville. In fact, he was voted the senior with the "prettiest eyes" by his classmates. Elrod graduated in 2005, but he would visit his former teachers and let them know how he was doing.

Barbara Brunson taught him computer applications and keyboarding. She thought of him as the son she never had, so the news of his death hit her hard.

"He was just a beautiful person in every aspect," she recalled. Brunson also said that Elrod told her he felt good when she asked how he felt about going into the military.

"We have lost an excellent citizen," she added. "He was a smart young man who should have been one of our leaders."

Carol Lloyd taught Elrod math in his junior year at Massey Hill. She remembered he was a quiet and respectful student who was well-liked by his peers. She said the whole school is affected by Elrod’s death because they’re a small, close-knit community.

"We love them all dearly, so you know it's hard," Lloyd said.

Several of Elrod’s former teachers said he was a bright student who joined the Army to help pay for college.

"I was a little surprised when he chose the military," said Jennifer Czechowski, who was his English teacher.

Czechowski said Elrod was interested in pursuing a journalism career and even shadowed a sports writer for the local newspaper. She added that he was a great writer.

"He really had a lot of potential to go on and be somebody great, and it's just a shame that he didn't get the chance," she said.

Army Spc. Steven R. Elrod was killed in Iraq on 9/10/07.

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