Saturday, April 16, 2011

Army Capt. Charles E. Ridgley Jr.

Remember Our Heroes

Army Capt. Charles E. Ridgley Jr., 40, of Baltimore

Capt Ridgley was assigned to 17th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 3rd Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Anchorage, Alaska; died April 16, 2011 at Forward Operating Base Gamberi, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when an Afghan National Army soldier attacked him with multiple grenades. Also killed were Sgt. 1st Class Charles L. Adkins, Staff Sgt. Cynthia R. Taylor, Sgt. Linda L. Pierre and Spc. Joseph B. Cemper.

Honoring Capt. Charles E. Ridgley
Story by Sgt. Tamika Dillard

More than 200 family members, friends and fellow servicemembers gathered May 3 at the Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson’s Soldier Chapel to honor the memory of Capt. Charles E. Ridgley, a native of Aberdeen, Md.

Forty year old Ridgley was one of five servicemembers killed on April 16 when an Afghan soldier, working as a Taliban sleeper agent, set off multiple grenades in the Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.

Company Commander Capt. Robert Covington, Forward Support Command, 6th Engineer Battalion, 3rd Maneuver Enhancement Brigade had spent some time with Ridgley and talked with him often throughout his deployment in Afghanistan.

“Though I did not know him long,” said Covington. “We had a lot in common. From such a brief moment; we connected and we remained friends; a bond was formed that would not be broken and he would call me once a week throughout his deployment.”

“We talked at least once a week,” Covington said. “We would talk about his mission over there and how he was mentoring his Afghan counterparts in the field of logistics. He said to me that he was amazed how a country could have so little yet the Afghan Soldiers were so appreciative for him being there coaching, teaching and mentoring them so that they could take back their country and provide a safe environment for their families. Charles told me that he was going to ensure that he left Afghanistan and the Soldiers he trained better than before he arrived there.”

“That was the type of person he was; whenever you gave him a task, he would perform it and make it better than it was before,” Covington added.

Covington shared his last conversation with his battle buddy.

“On April 7, I received my last phone call from Charles. Though it was brief, the last thing he said was, ‘Battle, I’m coming home. I’m going to make my baby’s graduation’”.

Ridgley enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1990 with a military occupational specialty of a supply specialist. In January 2007, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Quartermaster Corps receiving an area of concern as a logistician.

His awards included the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Two Army Commendation Medals, Three Army Achievement Medals, Three Good Conduct Medals, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, North Atlantic Treaty Organizational Medal, and the Combat Action Badge.

Ridgley was coming up on 20 years of service this November. He is survived by his mother Drema, brother Kenny, daughter Marissa and his uncle Tim.

“We were all looking forward to him being back and being done,” said his cousin Troy M. Ridgley. “We really didn’t get to spend as much time as we all wanted with him.”

Ridgley was assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 17th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 3rd MEB and in June 2010 was deployed with the company to Afghanistan in support of operation Enduring Freedom.

The unit is scheduled to return later this year.

Army Capt. Charles E. Ridgley Jr. was killed in action on 4/16/11.

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