Monday, June 01, 2009

Army Staff Sgt. Jeffrey A. Hall

Remember Our Heroes

Army Staff Sgt. Jeffrey A. Hall, 28, of Huntsville, Ala.

SSgt Hall was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) Fort Drum, N.Y.; died June 1, 2009 in Nerkh, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. Also killed were Pfc. Matthew D. Ogden and Pfc. Matthew W. Wilson.

The Huntsville Times -- Staff Sgt. Jeffrey A. Hall, 28, of Huntsville, Alabama was a toddler who loved wearing camouflage.

When he got just a little bit older, Jeffrey Alan Hall frequently coerced his parents into playing Army with him.

"He was the sergeant, and I was the cook," said Hall's mom, Annette.

"And I was the private," added his father, Charles.

He attached handmade parachutes to his pet hamster and dropped them off his bunk bed, playing out his dream of being an Army Ranger.

"But he dropped them on a pillow," his father quickly added. "Nobody got hurt, but they were probably surprised."

Always, always, always, Hall wanted to be in the Army. In 2000, he made it. After a few tries, he even accomplished the feat of becoming a Ranger.

And Monday, on a roadside in Afghanistan, he died doing what he was called to do.

"In his 28 years, he experienced everything he wanted," Annette said. "Scuba diving, jumping out of airplanes, hot motorcycles, fast cars, fine wine, good cigars, beautiful women. He was a Tasmanian devil, a whirl of energy, pushing everything to the edge."

Hall's parents lived in Huntsville until last year, when they moved to the country outside Hartselle. Family and friends gathered at their home Thursday afternoon to console one another and recall stories of the young man who loved University of Alabama football, bowhunting, spearfishing and getting into occasional trouble with his childhood buddies.

Mark Sturges, who has been Hall's best friend since they met in second grade at Grace Lutheran School, said his pal's motto was to set the standard, "always go for top shelf."

So when Staff Sgt. Hall, who also attended Grissom High School and Huntsville Christian Academy, called and talked about "this girl, this girl, this girl" he'd met while stationed at Fort Drum in New York, Sturges knew she had to be special.

"He'd always said that the woman for him had to be sassy, tall, brunette, beautiful and know how to put up with him," Sturges said. "And he found her."

'Just have faith'

Allison Ramorini Hall said there was a spark the first time a mutual friend introduced them. And when he was deployed to the war on terror for the second time just five months after they met, they both knew they'd keep up the relationship.

"The longer he was gone, the closer we got," said Allison, 27. "The key word that got us through those 16 months was 'faith.' We'd tell each other to just have faith."

Two weeks after he got back to Fort Drum, he formally proposed, though they'd already planned the wedding.

"He wanted to do it right," Allison said. "So he took me to our favorite restaurant and asked me

One year and a day after they wed, baby Audrey Faith was born. Allison said he never left her side, "not even once," during her 24 hours of labor. He got to be with his daughter until she was 6 months old.

Then came his third deployment, this time to Afghanistan.

"He didn't want to go, and he thought about trying to get out of it, but he didn't want to leave his men," Allison said. "He knew it was his job. He was born to do this."

He was due back at Fort Drum for a short leave in late July. Then he'd be back for good in January. Next April, he was supposed to become a Ranger trainer at Camp Merrill in Georgia, an assignment that would take him out of the combat zone.

"For this deployment, we got him his own Internet account and a webcam, so we could see each other and talk almost every day if he wasn't out on a mission," Allison said. "In the winter, he said things were pretty calm. But in the spring, activity had heated up. He didn't talk about it much. He just wanted to talk about what was happening at home."

'Buck up and carry on'

The call his family got Monday night was one they might have privately feared, but never spoke out loud.

"It was horrible, of course," his mother said. "I fell to my knees and I screamed. ... But I tell you the truth, he is here with me now. He is holding me up, and that is where I'm getting my strength.

"I hear him, and what he's saying is, 'Buck up and carry on.' "

An Honor Ceremony is planned for Hall when his body is returned to Huntsville later this weekend. As of Thursday evening, his family hadn't been notified when that would be.

Army Staff Sgt. Jeffrey A. Hall was killed in action on 6/1/09.

No comments: