Sunday, November 07, 2010

Army Sgt. Aaron B. Cruttenden

Remember Our Heroes

Army Sgt. Aaron B. Cruttenden, 25, of Mesa, Ariz.

Sgt. Cruttenden was assigned to 27th Engineer Battalion, 20th Engineer Brigade, XVIII Airborne Corps, Fort Bragg, N.C.; died Nov. 7, 2010 in Kunar province, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked his unit with small-arms fire. Also killed was Spc. Dale J. Kridlo.

Cpl. Aaron B. Cruttenden, 25, of Mesa, Ariz., and Spc. Dale J. Kridlo, 33, of Hughestown, Pa., died Sunday from wounds sustained in an attack by insurgents. Cruttenden will be promoted to sergeant posthumously.

Both were assigned to the battalion's 161st Engineer Support Company (Airborne). The deployment was their first. The attack occurred in Kunar province.

"Spc. Dale Kridlo and Cpl. Aaron Cruttenden were outstanding soldiers who died fighting to protect their platoon and fellow soldiers," said Lt. Col. Alan Dodd, the battalion commander. "Although route clearance is an extremely dangerous and challenging mission for any soldier, it is because of the bravery of heroes such as Kridlo and Cruttenden that routes are safer from IEDs for both Coalition Forces and the Afghan people.

"They laid down their lives in the service of others and their sacrifice will not be forgotten in the 27th Engineer Battalion."

Sgt. Cruttenden enlisted in 2008. He arrived at the battalion in October 2008.

WASHINGTON - A third Arizonan has died during combat operations in Afghanistan.

The Department of Defense said Tuesday that 25-year-old Army Sgt. Aaron B. Cruttenden of Mesa died Nov. 7 in Kunar Province of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked with small arms fire.

Cruttenden was stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C.

Family members who live in Mesa are shocked and the news still hasn't sunk in. Travis White says his brother is a hero. He got a tattoo yesterday in memory of his brother.

"He's one of a kind... I'm going to miss him," he says. Memorial services will be held in Colorado near Cruttenden's parent's home.

Sgt. Cruttenden joined the Army to “provide a better future for his two-year-old daughter.”

Sgt. Aaron "Moon" Cruttenden, 25 . . . always called his mother in Colorado before and after every mission to let her know that he was OK.

Cruttenden "had a big heart. He wanted to help us out in any way he could," said his grandmother, Shirley Wencel of Apache Junction. "He actually joined the Army for his daughter, to make sure she was taken care of."

Wencel said her grandson was devoted to his little girl, Dusti-Rai Ferrin.

Cruttenden attended Thunderbird Academy in Scottsdale but dropped out of high school and obtained his GED diploma after his mother, Yvonne Featheringill, moved to Hotchkiss, Colo., near Grand Junction.

Paul White, Cruttenden's uncle, said his nephew would be upset if he accidentally offended someone.

"Why did Aaron have to die?" he said. "He was such a genuine human being."

Joyce Davis, a former neighbor of Wencel's, said she remembered Cruttenden helping his grandfather put a new roof on his house before he reported for duty to the Army.

The roof work was another example of Cruttenden's love of family, (his grandmother) said.

As a squad leader, Cruttenden would look out for improvised explosive devices and other threats to his unit, she said.

"His biggest concern was that all of his men were safe. He would give his life for his men," she said.

Cruttenden . . . (was) someone who loved his family, had been in the service since 2008, and was deployed to Afghanistan about eight months ago.

"I'm heartbroken," (his uncle) told the Tribune on Wednesday. "We're all going between shock and sadness. He was a fine young man who was more worried about the people around him than himself. He was always smiling and willing to help. He never had a bad word for anybody."

Before joining the Army, Cruttenden had worked for White Brothers Electric as an apprentice electrician for about two years before joining the service, White said.

"We all called him Moon," White said. "We joked about him kind of being a hippie. He had long hair and was kind of a free spirit. . . . .He weighed the pros and cons about joining the military and decided to do it. He was worried more about what his family would think about him joining the service than he was. He had a generous nature and friendliness in caring for people."

"This is a tragic loss for the people around him who loved him. I'm proud of him."

(Cruttenden’s stepfather, David White) raised the Army Sgt. like his own son. Then Sunday the Mesa father learned the devastating news.

"Unreal, like getting hitting with a brick," he said. "He was supposed to be home around Christmas."

The Army Sergeant's family says this was supposed to be his last push through enemy territory.

Cruttenden's large extended family in Arizona and Colorado take pride in the fact he was serving his country, a job he signed up for two years ago so he could provide for his . . . daughter. "He wanted something stable to take care of his daughter, said (his uncle).

The family said they never thought Cruttenden would pay the ultimate price.

Sgt. Cruttenden is survived by his daughter, Dusti-Rai Ferrin, by his mother, Yvonne Featheringill, by his stepfather, David White, by his grandmother, Shirley Wencel,

Funeral arrangements for Sgt. Cruttenden are pending. He will be buried in Colorado.

Cruttenden and Kridlo were on their first deployment.

Army Sgt. Aaron B. Cruttenden was killed in action on 11/07/10.

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