Friday, July 15, 2011

Army SSgt. Lex L. Lewis

Remember Our Heroes

Army SSgt. Lex L. Lewis, 40, of Rapid City, S.D.

SSgt Lewis was assigned to 1st Squadron, 10th Cavalry, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.; died July 15, 2011 in Farah province, Afghanistan, from injuries suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with small-arms fire.

After SSgt Lewis graduated from Rapid City Central High, he joined the Navy, serving four years and was stationed in Japan. He joined the Army in 1999 and deployed to Iraq in 2003.

SSgt Lewis returned to Rapid City, where he worked as a security guard at Ellsworth Air Force Base.

He served in the South Dakota National Guard from 2006-2007, then decided to return to active duty with the Army. He was deployed to Iraq a second time in September 2008.

This was his first deployment to Afghanistan, having just deployed there last month.

SSgt Lewis enjoyed charcoal drawing and painting abstract art. He enjoyed watching movies, especially the Star Wars series, and collected Star Wars memorabilia.

Mother, Betty, said, “He absolutely loved the Army, and the Army life fit him well. He wanted to serve his country. He just liked being a soldier. He played Army when he was a little boy all the time, and this is what he wanted to do."

Sgt. 1st Class Kurt Gross, who supervised Lewis during his time with the 935th Aviation Support Battalion in Rapid City, said, “He was a good soldier for us and he did anything we needed done. He was always on time and professional." Gross said that after serving for a year in the National Guard, Lewis decided he wanted to return to an active-duty assignment in the Army.

“Some people just like that structure, and active duty is pretty structured,” he said.

Sgt. Dwayne Graves said he had spent considerable free time with Lewis. He said the two enjoyed shooting at targets in Farmingdale.

“Special was the word for him,” Graves said. “He was just a real likeable guy. He’d do anything for you. You definitely want him watching your back.”

“He wasn’t one to sit around. He had to be doing something all the time,” Graves said. “He showed no fear. I know he had some, but he certainly didn’t show it.”

“He was very laid back. Never got excited or got rowdy, we just talked and cracked jokes and had a good time,” Graves said. “He’ll be well missed. I’m supposed to be going to Iraq next spring, but I’ll be thinking about him while I’m there.”

As SSgt Lewis's body was on enroute back to the US, a military group on the same plane decided on the spur of the moment during a stopover in Kuwait to sing “An Irish Blessing” in his honor.

It was a moment that military chaplain Rives Duncan said he will never forget.

“As the words, melody and harmony reverberated in my ears and my chest, I realized that they were not just singing. They were singing to the young man on the cargo deck beneath his nation’s, their nation’s flag,” Duncan. “They were pronouncing a blessing more powerful than one I have ever given, and there is no doubt in my mind that the soldier not only heard it, but received it and experienced its fullness.”

During the song for Lewis, Duncan said, “More than one cheek had shining tracks of tears down them.”

An Air Force entertainment director for Tops in Blue said the group was on a deployment tour through Kuwait and decided to sing to the soldier since they were traveling on the same plane.

SSgt Lewis's awards and decorations include:
Bronze Star
Purple Heart
Army Commendation medal (2)
Army Achievement medal (5)
Meritorious Unit Citation (2)
Army Good Conduct medal (2)
Navy Good Conduct medal
National Defense Service medal
Southwest Asia Service medal
Afghanistan Campaign medal
Iraq Campaign medal with campaign star
Global War on Terrorism expeditionary medal
Global War on Terrorism service medal
Non-commissioned Officer Professional Development
Army Service ribbonOverseas Service ribbons (2)
Navy Sea Service Deployment ribbon
Navy Sea Service Deployment ribbon
NATO medalAir Assault badge
Driver's badge

Lewis is survived by his wife, Molly, six-year-old stepdaughter, Ariel; mother Betty Lewis; brother Frank mcCormick and half-sister, Lacy. He was preceded in death by his father, Stan Lewis, and his maternal grandparents, Patrick and Ester Mudlin.

Army SSgt. Lex L. Lewis was killed in action on 7/15/11.

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