Friday, October 31, 2003

Army 2nd Lt. Todd J. Bryant

Remember Our Heroes

Army 2nd Lt. Todd J. Bryant, 23, of Riverside, Calif.

Lt. Bryant was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 34th Armor Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan.; killed while on patrol Oct. 31 when an improvised explosive device exploded in Fallujah, Iraq.

War hits home for students after teacher’s husband killed

Associated Press

ABILENE, Kan. — When the Army officers marched into Abilene High School on Friday, the war in Iraq suddenly hit a personal note for students.

The soldiers brought the news that first-year teacher Jenifer Bryant’s husband of less than two months, 2nd Lt. Todd Bryant, had been killed while on patrol in Al Fallujah when an improvised explosive device detonated. He was 23.

“Knowing someone who was over there gave a little connection to the students,” Principal Jason Webb said. “It really hit home for the kids the last couple of days. This took some of those things we talk about in an educational setting and put it in terms of what it means in real people’s lives.”

Webb said Jenifer and Todd Bryant met in college. Todd Bryant, who originally was from Riverside, Calif., graduated from West Point and was commissioned in the Army in 2002. In January, he was sent to Fort Riley.

Webb said Bryant joined her husband at Fort Riley after she graduated in May. The two were married in September, two weeks before his deployment to Iraq. He was a tank platoon leader assigned to Company C, 1st Battalion, 34th Armor, 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division.

“He was a wonderfully charismatic young man,” Webb said. “He was only 23, but a West Point graduate and a platoon leader and an officer. He was young-looking, but very good at what he did.”

A memorial service was Wednesday at Fort Riley, and Webb said Bryant will be buried next week at Arlington National Cemetery, Va.

Bryant was the 11th Fort Riley soldier to be killed while serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom. About 6,500 of the 10,000 troops assigned to For Riley have been deployed to Iraq, post officials said.

Webb said some classes have discussed buying books for the school library in Todd Bryant’s name, and students have talked about collecting such items as magazines, puzzle books and lip balm and sending them to soldiers in Iraq.

Army 2nd Lt. Todd J. Bryant was killed in action on 10/31/03.

Sunday, October 26, 2003

Army Pfc. Rachel K. Bosveld

Remember Our Heroes

Army Pfc. Rachel K. Bosveld, 19, of Waupun, Wis.

Pfc. Bosveld was assigned to the 527th Military Police Company, V Corps, Giesen, Germany; killed Oct. 26 during a mortar attack on the Abu Ghraib Police Station in Abu Ghraib, Iraq.

Wisconsin soldier dies in Iraq

By Colleen Kottke
The (Fond Du Lac, Wis.) Reporter

WAUPUN, Wis. — The news of Rachel Bosveld’s death has brought the reality of the conflict in Iraq home to Waupun.

Bosveld, a member of the 527th Military Police, was killed Sunday during a mortar attack at a Baghdad police station.

As the word of the 19-year-old’s death filtered through the community, friends who knew the fun-loving brunette sought out one another to grieve and relive memories spent with their fallen friend.

Although Bosveld attended Waupun High School for only two years after transferring from Oshkosh West High School, it is clear that she made a lasting impression in the lives of those who knew her.

“She was energetic and always laughing,” said Krissy Beske, UW-Fond du Lac student and former classmate. “When she first came to school, we just kind of pulled her into our circle and took her under our wing.”

Beske says that Bosveld was very independent and comfortable with who she was.

“She was really unique and had her own style and wasn’t embarrassed to show it,” said Beske, who also tells of Bosveld’s sense of humor. “Sometimes we would just do silly stuff, like dress up like boys and then go out in public.”

After she learned of Bosveld’s death, she spent time with friend Jessica Gruening, looking over old pictures of themselves and Bosveld in happier times.

“Because she had been away for so long, the news didn’t really hit me at first, but when we began looking at old pictures and wishing she was here, it came over us big time,” said Beske. “(Rachel) was such a strong person and I looked up to her. She knew what she wanted and where she wanted to go in life. I will always remember that about her.”

WAUPUN, Wis. — All Rachel Bosveld wanted was to come home.

She never complained, but after eight months in the sands of Iraq, barely surviving a roadside ambush and patrolling anti-American riots, the 19-year-old military policewoman from Waupun had had enough.

“More and more people want us to go home,” she wrote in a letter to her father. “Believe me, we want to go home.”

Rachel Bosveld died Sunday in a mortar attack at a Baghdad police station, becoming the first Wisconsin woman killed in the Iraqi conflict and the fifth soldier from the state to die in that country this year.

Marvin Bosveld said he supported the invasion at first, but now he isn’t sure.

“That war killed her,” Marvin Bosveld said. “I’m not so sure what I’ll support now.”

Craig Bosveld, 32, described his sister as an artist who loved to draw forest scenes, play her violin and act in Waupun High School’s drama club. She played Frieda in the school rendition of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.” She hoped one day to become a graphic artist, he said.

“Can’t believe it,” he said. “The chances are one in a hundred thousand. She did what she had to do and never complained. We’re all proud of her.”

Reporters, photographers and cameramen descended on the Bosvelds’ modest white house Tuesday as a cold rain fell outside. A red Marine Corps flag hung outside the door in honor of Rachel’s stepbrother, 19-year-old Aaron Krebs.

The other Wisconsin soldiers who died in Iraq were Army Spc. Paul J. Sturino, 21, of Rice Lake; Army Reservist Dan Gabrielson, 40, of Frederic; Army Maj. Mathew Schram, 36, of Brookfield; and Marine Sgt. Kirk Straseskie, 23, of Beaver Dam.

Marvin Bosveld sat on the couch and told the story of his daughter’s short life.

Marvin Bosveld and his former wife, Mary, were serving as foster parents when Rachel came to them as a neglected baby. The couple adopted her. After they separated, she lived in Oshkosh with her mother but moved to Waupun with her father for her junior and senior years in high school.

She enlisted in the Army when she graduated in June 2002, following in the footsteps of her father, who served in the Army in Italy from 1967-1969, and Craig, who served in the Army in Alaska.

“She idolized her brother,” Marvin Bosveld said, pointing to a photograph of Craig holding a toddler-sized Rachel on a tree branch. “I had some reservation because she was a girl. She asked me not to worry about it. She was as good as anyone.”

Her mother said she desperately tried to talk her daughter out of it.

“I would have done anything to have her choose a different career,” Mary Bosveld said. “She said, ‘I know, Mom, but I have to do this. … I want to keep up the family tradition. Except, Mom, I’m going to be the first girl in our entire family.”’

Rachel graduated from boot camp in October 2002. Her father rode his Harley-Davidson motorcycle to Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri to see her graduate. She asked for a ride on the back. That, Marvin said, was his last real memory of her.

When she first got to Iraq, she was ready to “kick butt,” her father said.

Until Sept. 12. That was the day a rocket-propelled grenade hit the Humvee she was driving.

Craig Bosveld said the Humvee burned up from the inside. His sister dislocated her shoulder trying to open the door. When she did free herself, her unit started taking small-arms fire until another Humvee arrived to help.

From then on, her father said, her opinion changed.

She counted the days until she could leave in her letters. One focused on all the dead and abused horses she saw in Baghdad. Another talked about anti-American riots and people chanting “USA go home.”

She transferred from night patrol to day patrol. She hoped she might live longer that way, Craig Bosveld said.

Mary Bosveld said her daughter wrote to her and asked her to ask newspapers in Wisconsin to do a story on the real hardships troops there face.

She got three letters from her daughter Tuesday, the day after the family learned she had been killed.

“Mom, don’t worry so much about me,” one letter said.

Mary Bosveld said Rachel hoped to write a book about her experiences. Now she has to pass on her daughter’s story to reporters, as much as she hates it, she said.

“I’m doing this for Rachel because this is her story,” she said.

Marvin Bosveld said the hardest part for him will be dealing with unopened birthday cards when they return. Rachel would have turned 20 on Nov. 7.

“She kept assuring me she was getting her sleep, staying alert, keeping her head down and looking over her shoulder,” Bosveld said.

“I can hardly believe it yet today,” he said. “That was my daughter.”

— Associated Press

Army Pfc. Rachel K. Bosveld was killed in action on 10/26/03.

Saturday, October 18, 2003

Army Pfc. John D. Hart

Remember Our Heroes

Army Pfc. John D. Hart, 20, of Bedford, Mass.

Pfc. Hart was assigned to 1st Battalion (Airborne), 508th Infantry Battalion, 173rd Infantry Brigade, Camp Ederle, Italy; killed in action Oct. 18 when enemy forces, using rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire, ambushed his patrol in Taza, Iraq.

Pfc. John D. Hart was as loving as he was lovable, sure to one day become a teacher or a counselor, his family said.

But Hart wanted to be in the military, a resolve strengthened after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, said his father, Brian Hart.

Hart, 20, who enlisted in the Army after high school, was killed Oct. 18 when his patrol came under fire 160 miles north of Baghdad.

"I know you had a warrior's heart. You dreamed of being a soldier and you lived your dream," the elder Hart said at a memorial service for his son in their hometown of Bedford, Mass. "I presumed you'd come back and become a teacher or a counselor. You already were a counselor to many."

Brian Hart said he wished his son knew how his death had brought an entire town together in grief _ "a town united now in sorrow."

He is also survived by his mother, Alma, and two sisters.

Army Pfc. John D. Hart was killed in action on 10/18/03.