Friday, January 07, 2011

Army Pfc. Ira B. Laningham IV

Remember Our Heroes

Army Pfc. Ira B. Laningham IV, 22, of Zapata, Texas

Pfc. Laningham was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Polk, La.; died Jan. 7, 2011 of wounds suffered in Logar province, Afghanistan, when insurgents attacked his unit using an improvised explosive device and small-arms fire. Also killed was Army Spc. Ethan C. Hardin.

Zapata soldier killed in Afghanistan

Ira Laningham, IV was married Oct. 18, 2010, to Pfc. Stephanie Laningham, who he had met at Fort Polk and dated for only a few months. The two were deployed to Afghanistan together four days later.

"He called me and told me he was engaged and said, ‘Mom, I think I’m in love,’" Laningham’s mother, Norma Cantu, said. "I didn’t get to attend, it was such short notice."

Laningham told his mother not to worry — he and Stephanie were planning a big wedding at Disney World when they got back from Afghanistan.

Stephanie Laningham accompanied her husband’s body back to U.S. soil, arriving at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware Sunday night. She will get 30 days of emergency leave from her tour of duty and plans to spend at least part of that time staying with Cantu, who has only met her once.

Cantu said her son was a music lover who sang, played the trumpet and taught himself how to play the guitar. He enjoyed spending time with his family, including two brothers and a sister.

"Oh my gosh, they were a group," Cantu said of her sons and their cousins.

Pfc. Laningham’s brother Pfc. Joseph Cantu is also in the Army, stationed in Oklahoma.

Cantu struggled to keep from breaking down in tears when she described how she and the rest of the family was coping.

"I’m trying to be strong because he didn’t want me to cry," she said.

At Zapata High School, where he graduated in 2006, Laningham is remembered as a popular student who played in the school marching and mariachi bands. Principal Jose Flores said the school had to create a schedule so Laningham could fit in band, ROTC and advanced placement courses.

Trumpeter Laningham used to play taps at military funerals ---

Sometimes, families of Zapata veterans would call the school to see if anyone could play taps at funerals, Flores said. While he was in high school, that person was always Laningham.

"He took a lot of pride in going and playing taps for the veterans," Flores said.

Throughout his high school years, Army Pfc. Ira Benjamin Laningham IV of Zapata used his love of music and his skills on the trumpet to play taps at military funerals.

Ira Laningham, 22, considered the soldiers fallen heroes and wanted to honor them, said his mother Norma Cantú.

On Friday, the young newlywed joined the ranks of the fallen as the first South Texas soldier to die in the war in Afghanistan this year.

Laningham was born Sept. 1, 1988, in Greenfield, Mass., but spent much of his life in Zapata, near the Texas-Mexico border. Laningham graduated from Zapata High School in 2006 and wanted to enter the military, but his mother persuaded him to attend college first. After spending two years at Texas A&M International University studying music, Laningham's heart returned to his original choice.

Cantú said she was afraid for her son but also proud of him for taking a stand to pursue his dream by joining the Army in November 2009. “He told me, ‘Mom, I think I'm going to be a lifer (in the Army),'” said Cantú of her son, who had aspirations of becoming an Army Ranger.

Laningham's wife, Stephanie Armendariz, also serves in the military.

“When I went to go see him off for his deployment, he said, ‘If anything happens to me, I don't want you to cry because I'm doing what I want to do. I'm doing something that I love,'” said Cantú through tears.

Funeral plans have not been finalized for Laningham yet, because the family doesn’t know when his body will arrive in Texas, but Flores said the school will be ready to assist if asked.

"I’m sure we can find someone to play taps for him," he said.

From Pfc. Laningham's Aunt Melissa:

PFC Ira Benjamin "Ben" Laningham IV is survived by his wife, Stephanie Laningham; his mother and father, Norma and ENRIQUE Cantú; and his three siblings, PVT Joseph Eleazar Cantú, Enrique Elidén Cantú, and Amanda Raquel Cantú...of Zapata, TX...
And of his PROUD grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends!


Army Pfc. Ira B. Laningham IV was killed in action on 1/07/11

2 comments:

meliodette said...

Ms. Rager,

On behalf of Ben's wife, Stephanie Laningham, and his mother, Norma Cantú, we respectfully request that you modify your blog to reflect Ben's (correct) survivors.

Ira B. Laningham III was absent from Ben's life for almost TWO DECADES and lost his parental rights MANY years ago, paving the way for Enrique Ernesto "Henry" Cantú to become Ben's LEGAL, MORAL, and TRUE DAD...Henry was comfortable enough in his role as Ben's (LEGAL, did I say legal?) dad to allow him to keep his birth name, since he was already in school. Joseph, on the other hand, was adamant that his last name be changed to his Dad's...CANTU!

Mr. Laningham (III) learned about Ben's death through word-of-mouth and called Ben's mother to request PERMISSION to attend his funeral. He may call himself the biological parent. But he has no right to call himself the surviving "father" of a soldier he did NOT know...

PFC Ira Benjamin "Ben" Laningham IV is survived by his wife, Stephanie Laningham; his mother and father, Norma and ENRIQUE Cantú; and his three siblings, PVT Joseph Eleazar Cantú, Enrique Elidén Cantú, and Amanda Raquel Cantú...of Zapata, TX...
And of his PROUD grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends!

Your attention to this matter is greatly appreciated!

Sincerely,
Norma's Older Sister,
Ben's Proud Aunt,

Melissa Guerra

Terri Rager said...

It is done, Melissa, thank you and God bless your family.

Terri