Monday, February 07, 2011

Army Sgt. Patrick R. Carroll

Remember Our Heroes

Army Sgt. Patrick R. Carroll, 25, of Norwalk, Ohio

Sgt Carroll was assigned to 319th Military Intelligence Battalion, 525th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade, XVIII Airborne Corps, Fort Bragg, N.C.; died Feb. 7, 2011 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.

A village resident who was in the Army was killed Monday in Afghanistan, the soldier’s father confirmed Tuesday afternoon. Patrick Carroll, 25, attended New London Local Schools. He graduated from high school in Kentucky in 2004.

“He was a soldier through and through to the end,” said Patrick’s father, James Carroll, who was also in the Army. “It is rough, it’s going to be a long week,” he said. Patrick will be buried locally, although his father said he was not sure when the Army would bring his son back home.

Details about how Patrick was killed were sketchy Tuesday afternoon.

Bernadette Fannin, of New London, lives next door to Carroll’s grandmother, Fay. “It’s terrible,” she said. “It’s awful, it’s just unbelievable. You don’t expect it. You don’t expect (it) to be your neighbor’s grandson.” Fannin said she saw Patrick on and off a lot when he was younger. Tuesday morning, military officials came to Fay’s door and notified her, Fannin said.

Shortly after Christmas, just before boarding a plane to North Carolina, Sgt. Patrick Carroll, who had been visiting his grandmother in New London, began to cry. Fay Carroll was stunned, “I said, ‘Pat, you haven’t cried since you were a baby,’” she recalled. “He said ‘Mammaw, I’ve never left so much behind.’”

She said she knew it was the last time she would ever speak to her grandson. The phone call she expected, and dreaded, came Tuesday.

Patrick Carroll was in love and soon to be engaged, his grandmother said. All he was waiting on was the ring, which was being custom made. The ring is scheduled to be ready next week.

Patrick Carroll met and fell in love with a woman — whom Fay Carroll knows only as Kimberly — in North Carolina. When the young couple was in New London for Christmas, they were “so totally in love.” Patrick Carroll was “so taken with somebody and so happy,” Fay Carroll said.

But as happy as the family was, Fay Carroll said her intuition told her something wasn’t right. Patrick Carroll’s flight home was delayed because of heavy winter storms. “God was giving us every chance to get everything said and done that needed to be done,” Fay Carroll said.

Even the Christmas presents Patrick Carroll purchased for his family were perfect. He spent months researching and looking online for the best gifts. Fay Carroll received an engraved carousel for her collection. The inscription reads, “A grandmother holds your hands when you’re tiny and holds your heart forever,” Fay Carroll said. Patrick Carroll bought his grandfather an engraved knife. For his father, an engraved pocketwatch from France.

His tour in Afghanistan was Patrick Carroll’s second tour of duty — his first was in Iraq.

Before he joined the Army, Patrick Carroll went through a wild-child phase when he was 18, Fay Carroll recalled. He dyed his hair fluorescent orange. He woke his grandmother up in the middle of the night to ask what she thought. “‘You better put something over it before Pappaw sees it,’” she recalled telling her grandson.

Patrick Carroll’s decision to join the military, and to make it a career, didn’t surprise Fay Carroll, she said. Her son — Patrick Carroll’s father — was a serviceman.

She remembered Patrick Carroll telling her, “Mammaw, I just signed up.”

“For what?” Fay Carroll responded.

“I signed up for the Army,” he said.

“He got his head together and wanted to do something where he felt he was going to make a difference in the world,” Fay Carroll said. “He was making a difference.”

Patrick Carroll, an only child, attended New London Local Schools but graduated from a high school in Kentucky. One of his graduation parties was in Fay Carroll’s backyard. More than 300 people attended. “He was everyone’s little brother,” she said. “They took him under their wing, and he was loved by all of them. And he loved them all. That was our man. A truly great human being.”

Funeral arrangements are pending, Fay Carroll said.

Patrick Carroll’s body was scheduled to arrive at Dover Air Force Base, Del., on Wednesday. From there, his body would be flown to Cleveland, where the family plans to have a military ceremony. Patrick Carroll will be buried in New London.

“I just hope we can do him justice in saying goodbye,” Fay Carroll said.

Army Sgt. Patrick R. Carroll was killed in action on 2/7/11.

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