Friday, September 02, 2011

Army Sgt. Chester G. Stoda

Remember Our Heroes

Army Sgt. Chester G. Stoda, 32, of Black River Falls, Wis.

Sgt Stoda died Sep. 2, 2011 from a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the 8th Engineer Battalion, 36th Engineer Brigade, Fort Hood, Texas.

Sgt Stoda died while scuba diving in Hawaii while on leave from Afghanistan.

A lifeguard at Haena Beach Park administered CPR for more than 30 minutes in an attempt to save Stoda's life before medics arrived.

Sgt Stoda was scuba diving with a friend from Texas near Tunnels Beach. Lifeguard John Cammak noticed the two enter the water around 3 p.m. and for more than an hour, observed the pair diving and periodically surfacing. Around 4:30 p.m., Stoda's diving companion returned to the beach while Stoda remained in the water to snorkel.

The lifeguard continued to observe Stoda as he snorkeled and drifted closer to the waters in front of the lifeguard stand. Around 5:00 p.m., as Cammak was closing up the lifeguard stand, he observed Stoda still in the water about 50 yards offshore and decided to swim out to see if he needed assistance. When he reached Stoda, Stoda was unconscious.

The lifeguard brought Stoda back to shore and asked for assistance from beachgoers in retrieving first aid and communications equipment from the lifeguard stand.

Stoda was transported to Wilcox Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 7:32 p.m.

North District Lifeguard Supervisor Jim Ingham praised Cammak for following his instincts and making heroic efforts to save Stoda’s life. “John felt something wasn’t right, so before closing up for the night he felt compelled to swim out and check on Mr. Stoda,” stated Ingham. “Although ultimately the victim couldn’t be revived, John and others on the beach did everything they could to assist. John’s actions truly represent the dedication, commitment and skill of our lifeguards.”

Sgt. Stoda had worked as a logger in his father's logging business as well as Webster Lumber and several logging operations in the Bangor area. He was working as a self-employed logger at the time he entered the service.

Sgt Stoda enlisted in the Army in February 2008, where he served as a combat engineer and was responsible for locating and removing improvised explosive devices from roads. He deployed to Afghanistan in December 2010.

Sgt Stoda was an outdoorsman who enjoyed hunting, fishing, hiking, cross-county skiing, camping and bee keeping.

"He loved the outdoors," said his mother, Ann.

He also loved history and enjoyed reading books about events such as World War II.

When describing their son, Ann and Douglas Stoda refer to him as a man who was kind and would do anything for anyone.

His father, Douglas, described Chester as "easy and fun to be around."

Sgt Stoda's awards and decorations include:

Army Achievement Medals (2)
Army Good Conduct Medal
National Defense Service Meda
Korea Defense Service Medal
Afghanistan Campaign Medal with campaighn star
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
NATO Medal
Army Service Ribbon
Overseas Service Ribbons (2)
Combat Action Badge

Sgt Stoda was laid to rest in Oak Grove Cemetery in Tomah

Sgt Stoda is survived by his parents, grandparents, and two sisters.

Army Sgt. Chester G. Stoda died in a non-combat related accident on 9/2/11.

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