Saturday, August 01, 2009

Army Pvt. Patrick S. Fitzgibbon

Remember Our Heroes

Army Pvt. Patrick S. Fitzgibbon, 19, of Knoxville, Tenn.

Pvt. Fitzgibbon was assigned to 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.; died Aug. 1, 2009 in Mushan village, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked his patrol with improvised explosive devices and rocket-propelled grenades. Also killed were Army Cpl. Jonathan M. Walls and Army Pfc. Richard K. Jones.

WVLT -- KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- South Doyle High School is about to add another marker to its soldier memorial garden.

Private Patrick Fitzgibbon was a student just months ago. Now his school will remember the 19-year-old for his decision to serve his county and lay down his life.

Only about 1% of JROTC students enlist, and First Sergeant Calvin Hartwell says he never thought Patrick Fitzgibbon would be among them.

Hartwell was watching TV Sunday night when he found out his former student had died in combat.

"Immediately, when I saw his face, before his name came by, I was like 'no!' " Hartwell told Volunteer TV. "I'll remember him as a person that's willing to make a sacrifice," Hartwell continued.

But Hartwell says Patrick Fitzgibbon was not always a shining example of a cadet.

"Patrick was a very energetic young man, and kind of," Hartwell trailed off, "sometimes we'd say a little rebel," he finished.

In fact, during his senior year at South Doyle Fitzgibbon decided school wasn't for him. He dropped out and went for his GED.

His older brother tells us Patrick was pulling his life together and was excited about the infantry.

"He decided to join and serve his country and he was like, 'Hey, I'm going to do it. I ain't going to think about it. I'm just going to do it,' " John Fitzgibbon said.

"He was fortunate, really, to get in because most of the time you don't get in with a GED," Hartwell told WVLT.

First Sergeant Hartwell says Fitzgibbon came to visit him in March, just before his deployment. And Hartwell says that's the memory he'll keep: a clean cut, focused Patrick Fitzgibbon.

"Anytime you give your life for your country, we have to look at you as a hero," Hartwell said.
The JROTC instructor already knows where he wants Fitzgibbon's marker to go in the school's memorial garden.

He still can't believe he's planning a student body memorial for Patrick, a cadet who signed up in December and left in April.

His family went to meet the body Monday in Dover, Delaware.

Getting it back to Knoxville can take anywhere from two to nine days.

The Fitzgibbons plan to bury him at Sherwood Chapel and Memorial Gardens on Alcoa Highway.

Those arrangements are not complete.

Army Pvt. Patrick S. Fitzgibbon was killed in action on 8/1/09.

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