Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Army Spc. Christopher W. Opat

Remember Our Heroes

Army Spc. Christopher W. Opat, 29, of Spencer, Iowa

Spc. Opat was assigned to the 1st Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.; died June 15, 2010 in Baqubah, Iraq of injuries sustained in a noncombat-related incident.

MASON CITY, IA--- The Family of a North Iowa soldier killed in Iraq could comment further on his death on Thursday. His grandmother Dolores Opat said he was a quiet young man. She said military officials told the family Tuesday but did not provide details on the death.

Les Opat, 58, of Lime Springs, said Christopher’s body was flown into Dover Air Force Base Wednesday evening. The Conway Funeral Home in Cresco was coordinating burial services for the family. No further details were given about services.

Les Opat said he knew something was wrong when two uniformed officials came to his door earlier this week. “That was the type of thing I never wanted to see,” said Opat.

Opat is the 59th Iowa soldier killed in or after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Two of Christopher’s brothers had served in the armed services and another recently joined the Air Force, Opat said.

Opat said his son wanted to make a career in the Army, and after attending Iowa Lakes Community College that’s what he did.

“He had tried to get a job, and he was having, not a hard time finding a job, but he decided that he needed something different,” he said. “He liked the Army and he was dedicated to the Army.”

A hard week for a locally based Army Stryker brigade in Iraq got harder Wednesday when the Department of Defense announced a soldier had died on his third tour of Iraq.

29-year-old Spc. Christopher W. Opat died Tuesday while serving in Iraq. Opat, a Spencer, IA native, died from injuries he sustained in a non-combat related incident.

Spc. Opat was station in Baquah, Iraq with the 1st Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

An investigation is underway to find out more about the circumstances surrounding Opat's death.

According to unit records, Opat enlisted August 7, 2003 at Memphis, Tenn. and reported to and reported to Fort Knox, Kentucky for basic training. He received advanced training in his military occupational specialty at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland and served three and a half years in Babenhaus, Germany. While in Germany, he deployed twice in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He reported to-Fort Lewis, Wash. (now Joint Base Lewis-McChord) on March 7, 2008 and was assigned to 1st Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, part of the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. The brigade deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in August, 2009.

Opat's civilian and military education include a high school diploma (1999), Military Occupational Specialty 91D- Power Generation Equipment Repairer qualification course (2004), Combatives Level I (2008), and Combat Lifesavers Course (2009).

His awards and decorations include the Army Good Conduct Medal (two awards), National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, and Overseas Service Ribbon.

On behalf of the entire Joint Base Lewis-McChord military and civilian community, we extend our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Spc. Opat.

Chris Opat graduated from Crestwood High School in Spencer in 1999. He attended Iowa Lakes Community College in Emmetsburg, graduating with a degree in construction. He enlisted in the Army in 2003.

The U.S. Department of Defense listed Opat's hometown as Spencer, Ia., but Opat's family said today that information was erroneous and was based on the fact that he had enlisted in the Army at a Spencer recruiting station. He served three and a half years in Germany and was serving his third deployment to Iraq at the time of his death. His most recent deployment began last August.

Opat grew up on a farm in rural Howard County near the Minnesota border and graduated from Crestwood High School in Cresco in 1999.

"He was always a really, really hard worker. He would pick rock and bale hay when he was a kid," recalled his brother, Jason Opat, 22.

But he also enjoyed an occasional prank with his brothers, family members said.

Jason Opat said his brother joined the Army to serve his country as well as to get money for school. He said his brother accepted his repeated tours in Iraq as part of his duty.

"We never really talked about that. It goes unsaid. It is what you do," said Jason Opat, who just completed a four-year enlistment in the Air Force as an aviation maintenance technician. He said his brother was within weeks of finishing his latest tour in Iraq and was thinking of re-enlisting within the next few months.

"It doesn't really hit home until it's one of your own," says friend Ryan McCarville.

"He was a friend to everybody, never had any enemies that's for sure," McCarville notes.

McCarville grew up with Opat, the two both graduated from Crestwood High School back in 2000.

"He always said hi to you and you could always have a conversation with you, overall a great guy," he adds.

"It's devastating, it's devastating to everyone," said Cresco resident Evelyn Adamec.

Adamec never knew Opat, but as the mother and wife of two men who have served, she knows this is a tough day for his family.

"Anyone who's every had a loved one in the military suffers a loss at the same time when someone else losses a husband or a child or a family members," she says.

Army Spc. Christopher W. Opat died in a non-combat related incident on 6/15/10.

1 comment:

Shina Willson said...

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