Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Army Pfc. Zachary G. Lovejoy

Remember Our Heroes

Army Pfc. Zachary G. Lovejoy, 20, of Albuquerque, N.M.

Pfc. Lovejoy was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.; died of wounds sustained when enemy forces attacked their vehicle with an improvised explosive device Feb. 2, 2010 in Zabul province, Afghanistan. Also killed was Capt. Daniel Whitten.

Zachary Lovejoy enlisted in the Army as an infantryman in August 2008, attending One Station Unit Training and Basic Airborne School at Fort Benning, Ga. He was assigned as assistant machine gunner with the 1-508th PIR at Fort Bragg. He was serving on his first deployment.

Pfc. Lovejoy's awards and decorations include the Army Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon, the NATO Medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge and the Basic Parachutist's Badge.

A friend, Christopher Whippo, said Lovejoy was motivated and wanted to do something with his life.

Zach Lovejoy graduated in 2008 from Albuquerque's La Cueva High School, then joined the Army. The school's athletic director, Larry Waters, says he played football and ran track during his freshman and sophomore years and wrestled.

His friends say he never met a stranger and tell us he was living his dream when he laid his life down for his country.

"He died doing something he wanted to do. He wanted to be a soldier and he wanted to be in the Army. He joined us his junior year in the program with the ultimate goal of joining the military," First Sgt. Alberto Griego said.

Lovejoy participated in Junior ROTC in high school where he made quite an impression on Griego, his instructor. He joined the military straight out of high school after playing football, wrestling and running track.

"Great individual, he'd give you the shirt off his back if he could. He'd help any student out regardless if you were in the ROTC program or not," Griego said.

Lovejoy, who was engaged, died Tuesday in Afghanistan. He's the first ROTC Cadet that Griego has taught who died in combat.

"But this one really hits home because this is one of mine, one of my kids. But it reminds me that I still have about another 30 or 40 cadets, former students that are in the military right now that are in harms way in Iraq and Afghanistan that this could happen to them as well," Griego said.

That's why 1st Sgt. Griego said he will continue to pray for the men and women serving this country, while he mourns the loss of a student, friend, and hero.

"There's no greater individual than that person that's willing to sacrifice their life for our nation. Zach is just a great individual and we're truly going to miss him," Griego said.

Army Pfc. Zachary G. Lovejoy was killed in action 2/2/10.

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