Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Army Maj. Robert F. Baldwin

Remember Our Heroes

Army Maj. Robert F. Baldwin, 39, of Muscatine, Iowa

Maj. Baldwin was assigned to the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.; died Sept. 21, 2010 in a UH-60 Black Hawk a helicopter crash during combat operations in Zabul province, Afghanistan. Also killed in the crash were: Army Sgt. Marvin R. Calhoun Jr., Lt. (SEAL) Brendan J. Looney, Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jonah D. McClellan, Senior Chief Cryptologic Technician (Collection) David B. McLendon, Navy Special Warfare Operator 3rd Class (SEAL) Denis C. Miranda, Army Staff Sgt. Joshua D. Powell, Navy Special Warfare Operator 2nd Class (SEAL) Adam O. Smith, and Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Matthew G. Wagstaff.

Maj. Robert Francis Baldwin, 37, of New Boston, Ill. Baldwin entered the Army in February 1994 and arrived at Fort Campbell in January 2007. Baldwin was an Aviation Liaison Officer assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company.

Robert Baldwin will never take his youngest son deer hunting in Eliza Township the way his father hunted with him in the Illinois countryside.
Baldwin, 39, a major with the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division from Fort Campbell, Ky., died Tuesday in a helicopter crash in southern Afghanistan. Eight other American troops were killed in a helicopter crash in southern Afghanistan, the military said Wednesday.

The crash was the worst coalition helicopter crash in Afghanistan in four years. The cause was not immediately known.

“He was a young major,” Eliza Township Supervisor Dick Nash said Thursday of Baldwin. “He was an up-and-comer in the military. This was his third or fourth tour in this war.”

Baldwin — the son of Cheryl and Gary Baldwin of Eliza Township — graduated from Western Illinois University in 1993 with a bachelor’s degree in industrial technology and a minor in military science. He was a member of Western’s Reserve Officers Training Corps, or ROTC, and was commissioned a second lieutenant in December 1993. He entered the Army in February 1994.

“I guess becoming a soldier came naturally to Rob,” Amy Saddoris, 43, a friend of his parents, said. “Rob comes from a family of soldiers. His grandfather was a WWII veteran, and his dad was a Vietnam veteran. His parents are very proud of him.”

Nash, 63, is a Vietnam veteran who enjoyed talking with Baldwin when he visited Eliza Township. Nash, who served in the U.S. Army in the late 1960s as a first lieutenant, is a member of the Eliza American Legion. Its members pay dues for the area’s active-duty residents, he said, but paying Baldwin’s wasn’t a simple matter.

“He’d always send a check in for his dues,” he said. “And we’d always send it back. He wanted to pay his own way, but we wouldn’t let him.”

Nash asked that flags on township properties be flown at half-staff. “I would urge anyone in the township who flies a flag to fly theirs (that way) too for the next two weeks or past the day of the funeral,” Nash said.

Vickie Fitchner, owner of Eliza Kountry Kafe, has known Baldwin since he was a teenager. She remembered him as a quiet young man who appeared very sleepy when he joined his dad and their friends for breakfast at her cafe.

“They did a lot of deer hunting,” Fitchner, 44, said. “They’d come in here early in the morning.”

Baldwin originally was identified as being from Muscatine, but that later was corrected to New Boston, Ill.

Fitchner said the confusion likely stemmed from the fact that Eliza Township was listed as a Muscatine address until about four or five years ago.

Saddoris said Baldwin and his wife, Danielle Rausch Baldwin, have two sons and two daughters. Their youngest son was born earlier this year.

“Robert only had a few weeks with him before he was deployed the last time,” Saddoris said.

Nash said support for the Baldwin family among the township’s approximately 400 residents will continue.

“The Eliza Lions Club met Wednesday, and within the first few minutes, they had donated $500 for a memorial for Rob,” Nash said. “We’ll do anything we can to soften the blow even though we know we certainly can’t. Time becomes your friend in these sort of things.”

Baldwin is survived by his wife, Danielle M. Baldwin; daughters Rachel and Meaghan Baldwin; and sons Keegan and Patrick Baldwin, all of Clarksville. He is also survived by parents Gary and Cheryl Baldwin of New Boston, Ill.

Army Maj. Robert F. Baldwin was killed in action on 9/21/10.

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