Saturday, July 29, 2006

Marine Cpl. Phillip E. Baucus

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Cpl. Phillip E. Baucus, 28, of Wolf Creek, Mont.

Cpl. Baucus was assigned to the 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Twentynine Palms, Calif.; killed July 29 while conducting combat operations in Anbar province, Iraq.

Tribune Staff Writer

A Wolf Creek Marine died Saturday during combat operations in Iraq, the Department of Defense announced Tuesday.

Cpl. Phillip E. Baucus, 28, was killed in Al Anbar province, Iraq, according to a Marine Corps spokeswoman.

Cpl. Baucus is the son of Wolf Creek ranchers John and Nina Baucus and the nephew of U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont.

Almost a year ago he wed Katharine Taylor at the historic Sieben Ranch, operated by his parents in the Wolf Creek area.

Details on the circumstances surrounding his death were not available Tuesday.

Cpl. Baucus served as a scout and team leader with the 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, based in Twentynine Palms, Calif.

It was his second tour of duty in Iraq.

"Our family is devastated by the loss of Phillip," Sen. Baucus said in a statement Tuesday afternoon. "We loved him dearly and we'll miss him more than words can ever express.

"Phillip served with great honor and dignity," he said. "America owes him a debt of gratitude."

Cpl. Baucus and his wife both graduated from Capital High School in Helena in 1995. Principal Randy Carlson remembered him as a mature and friendly student.

Carlson recalled that a few years after his graduation; Cpl. Baucus operated heavy machinery at the school for a contractor doing a renovation project.

"He was comfortable with whatever task he was given," Carlson said. "He was a mature kid."

Tom Pedersen, Baucus' former track coach and biology teacher at the high school, called him a "super kid" who was "just a great person to be around."

"It's so sad," Pedersen said "Kids just starting out their lives, getting married, and then they're gone."

Baucus was active in the school orchestra and played string bass under the direction of Beth Mazanec, even participating in an ensemble that practiced before the school day began. On Tuesday, Mazanec remembered him as a strong musician "who came to class with a smile on his face every day and got along well with everyone."

"He was so gung ho," she said. "I think he was proud of the fact that he was a good bass player."

Cpl. Baucus enlisted in the Marine Corps on Sept. 13, 2002, and was deployed to Iraq for his second tour in March.

While in the Marines, he was awarded numerous decorations, including the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal and the Combat Action ribbon.

Politicians around the state and country issued statements of condolence to the Baucus family Tuesday.

Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont., said, "There's one more Marine standing the eternal watch over Heaven tonight."

Jon Tester of Big Sandy, Burns' Democratic opponent in November, also expressed condolences on behalf of him and his wife.

"Sharla and I are deeply saddened by the news of the death of Phillip Baucus. The hearts of all Montanans go out to the Baucus family and we pray for them and for all the men and women of our armed forces in harm's way," Tester said in a statement.

Congressman Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., said he met Cpl. Baucus for the first time at the marina at Gates of the Mountains near Helena.

"He was a great young man and this is very sad news," he said. "Phillip paid the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our country and for that we should all be grateful."

Gov. Brian Schweitzer said he and his wife, Nancy, were praying for the Baucus family in their time of loss.

"Today a family lost a son and a husband," Schweitzer said. "Montana lost a hero."

He added that Cpl. Baucus' "sacrifices will be remembered by Montana and the country."

Marine Cpl. Phillip E. Baucus was killed in action on 07/29/06.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Marine Cpl. Timothy D. Roos

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Cpl. Timothy D. Roos, 21, of Cincinnati, Ohio

Cpl Roos was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.; died July 27 from wounds received while conducting combat operations in Anbar province, Iraq.

DELHI TWP. - At the age of 21, Cpl. Timothy Roos had experienced more in life than many twice his age as a member of the Marine Corps: four major attacks in his three combat tours.

And just when it seemed that fate might treat him kindly as he neared the end of his latest tour, the native of Delhi Township came under fire again this week and was killed.

As a new Marine in 2004, Roos went to Haiti as part of an American deployment during political unrest there.

The following year he went to Iraq, where twice he came under fire.

In March, he was back in Iraq after a mere seven months of boots on the ground in the United States.

In late May, Roos stared death in the face again when the Humvee he was in ran over an improvised explosive device.

"The explosion shattered all the glass on the vehicle, popped all four doors open and sent shrapnel ripping through the engine," Roos was quoted as saying in the Marine Corp News May 25. "It's scary, and if you are not scared, there is something wrong with you. ... But it is our job, so you've got to do it."

And he did.

But more missions meant more risks. Just a few weeks ago Roos suffered second- and third-degree burns to his legs, arms and face from a rocket-propelled grenade attack.

The fatal attack came in Ramadi.

Roos enlisted straight out of high school. His big brother, Adam, said he wasn't blind to the dangers of life in the combat zone and military, but still spoke of re-enlisting.

"That's why he's my hero," Adam Roos said.

At 4 a.m. Friday, two Marines came to the Champdale Lane home where Roos grew up.

Friday was a blur of emotions for Adam and other members of the family, including Roos' wife of three years, Sara. Just two weeks ago, Sara Roos gave birth to the couple's daughter, Annaliese.

Timothy Roos was due back in Cincinnati in October for a brief leave after his tour so he could reconnect with childhood friends, Adam, Sara, other family members and his newborn baby girl.

"He was going to hold her for the first time," Adam Roos said.

He'd planned to go camping; he was going to go to Wisconsin to catch a Packers game.

"It's a family thing, every year," Adam Roos said.

Adam Roos broke down Friday when he spoke of his younger brother's becoming a Marine and marrying his Delhi Junior High School sweetheart, Sara, and other dreams that never materialized.

"He was a great Marine. He loved his job. He loved doing it," Adam said. "There really wasn't much that Tim wasn't proud of."

Roos graduated in 2003 from Oak Hills High School after completing the two-year auto technology program at Diamond Oaks.

"He just loved to work with things," said Rebecca Beckstedt, a public relations coordinator for the Great Oaks system. "This is just really hard for the school."

Marine Cpl. Timothy D. Roos was killed in action on 7/27/06.

Annaliese Roos

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Friday, July 21, 2006

Marine Capt. Christopher T. Pate

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Capt. Christopher T. Pate, 29, of Hampstead, N.C.

Capt. Pate was assigned to the 2nd Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company, Command Element, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.; killed July 21, 2006 while conducting combat operations in Anbar province, Iraq.

The Oregonian -- Student of Eastern religions. Mountain climber. Triathlete. Polyglot. Marine. Renaissance man.

Those are among the words family and friends use to describe U.S. Marine Capt. Christopher T. Pate, who died Friday in the Anbar province of Iraq after an improvised explosive device ripped through his patrol.

Now they add "hero."

Marine officers are telling Pate's parents, Jerry and Kathy Pate, that their 29-year-old son used his dying words to radio for help. Two sergeants training Iraqi soldiers with Pate lost legs in the attack. Pate's call might have saved their lives, Jerry Pate said.

He cried Tuesday as he said his only child might win the Bronze Star for heroism.

Chris Pate, who was raised in Beaverton and graduated from Oregon Episcopal School in Raleigh Hills, was a man of the world. He paddled the Amazon River while learning Spanish. He studied for a year in Germany, not knowing the language before attending the University of Freiberg. And he was studying Arabic in Iraq.

As a student at Oregon Episcopal, he spent Winterim, the extracurricular week before spring break, at a Buddhist monastery in Washington. And then he went fishing in Alaska with his dad.

"He liked to think of himself as a renaissance man," Jerry Pate said from his home in central Florida.

Alex Sutton and Jon Reali on Tuesday remembered their boyhood friend as someone who loved to beat competitors in triathlons. He still had the Isuzu Rodeo he bought as a high school junior. And if he said he would be at your house at 5 a.m. to go fishing, he was there at 5 a.m. -- with coffee.

Pate wanted to learn to ride a motorcycle, not because he had one, but because he might need to know someday. Going to Powell's Books with Pate turned into an esoteric journey through Eastern religions, Norse mythology and other surprises.

"Things you wouldn't expect from the average Marine," Sutton said.

"He didn't fit any mold," Reali said. "He chose his own path."

Sutton's favorite memory of his friend was from when they were 14. Sutton was going on a rare camping trip without his friend. Pate hid two bricks in Sutton's backpack, along with a note.

"Hey, Alex, I just wanted to let you know how important physical fitness is and you're looking a little flabby." The note ended with a caution that the bricks belonged to Sutton's mom and she wanted them back.

But the mischievous boy became a man. Reali will always remember Pate, the stoic bald-headed Marine, getting emotional while offering a toast at Sutton's wedding in September. Pate didn't like public speaking, but he brought down the house.

"It broke him up to say those things," Reali said. "But that was the one point I can say I was most proud."

Pate was born in Orlando, Fla. His family moved to Beaverton in 1984, and Pate attended Elmonica Elementary, Five Oaks Middle and Aloha High schools before transferring to Oregon Episcopal as a junior.

Pate had been in talented-and-gifted programs, but went to the private school for an added academic challenge, Jerry Pate said.

His son was a rock climber, scuba diver, skier and white-water kayaker. In school, he played football, lacrosse and soccer.

"He was a natural Northwest boy," his father said.

Pate graduated from Oregon Episcopal in 1995. He received an academic scholarship to the University of Puget Sound and graduated in 1999 with a bachelor's degree in business administration with a specialty in international business. During college, he rowed in crew and spent a year in Germany. After graduation, he went to South America to learn Spanish.

Pate joined the Marines in December 1999.

"It was an organization he saw as being a special group that was committed to American values," Jerry Pate said.

Chris Pate reached the rank of captain in July 2004. He was stationed at Camp Lejeune, N.C., and assigned to the 2nd Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force.

His service took him to Okinawa, Korea, Thailand, South America and Yemen. Then Pate volunteered for two tours in Iraq, his father said. His parents wouldn't have chosen a war zone.

"As parents, of course, we just want some safe harbor for our child," Jerry Pate said.

At one point, he could have stayed home.

"He said, 'Dad, I trained those people, and I have the obligation to look after them,' " Jerry Pate said.

His tour in Iraq was scheduled to end in November.

The family is planning a private memorial ceremony. Pate will be interred in the Portland area, his father said.

Pate was engaged to marry Margaret A. Stearns, whom he met as a classmate at Oregon Episcopal. They had bought the rings and were making arrangements.

The couple were thinking about moving to Washington, D.C., Jerry Pate said. Chris wasn't sure what to do after the Marines, but with his background -- business degree, military accolades and foreign languages -- the sky was the limit. Maybe medical school. His friends wouldn't have been surprised if his future was in intelligence.

"Nothing I'm sure he could ever tell us about," Reali said.

Four days before he died, Pate sent his parents an e-mail. He had just sold some investment property and was looking forward to his wedding.

"It was the happiest he'd ever been in his life," his father said.

Marine Capt. Christopher T. Pate was killed in action on 7/21/06.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Army Pfc. Derek J. Plowman

Remember Our Heroes

Army Pfc. Derek J. Plowman, 20, of Everton, Ark.; assigned to the Army National Guard's 1st Battalion, 142nd Fires Brigade, Rogers, Ark.; died on July 20 in Baghdad, Iraq, from a gunshot wound.

By Silvia Guzman

U.S. Army Private First Class (PFC) Derek Plowman, 20, pictured, was killed Thursday, July 20, while serving in Iraq. Plowman was assigned to the 1st Battalion 142nd Brigade of the U.S. Army National Guard in Rogers, Arkansas. Plowman lived in Lehigh Acres for 17 years.

A former Lee County resident and Arkansas National Guard soldier whose father and brother still live in Lee County died in Baghdad on July 20 of a gunshot wound.

Pfc. Derek James Plowman, 20, had been a Lehigh resident for 17 years, was assigned to Battery C, 1st Battalion, 142nd Fires Brigade in Rogers, Ark. The gunshot incident is still under investigation.

He attended Lehigh Senior High School until his junior year in 2004. He then moved to Everton, Ark., with his mother, Kim Campbell and his stepfather Andrew Campbell and graduated from Valley Springs High School.

Plowman joined the Army National Guard while he was a senior in high school. After he graduated, he started his basic training.

"We knew that he was fine with the decision he made. His mother and I, we get peace in knowing that Derek did what he wanted to do," said his stepfather Andrew Campbell. "He knew where he was going when he enlisted, but he wanted to serve his country and he knew it could help pay for his college."

Campbell said he felt very proud of Derek Plowman for his service to the country.

Derek Plowman's brother Corey Plowman, 24, also shares that pride.

"I'm overwhelmed with pride," Corey Plowman said. "He was proud to be something that was worth being."

Still, Corey Plowman, who is a staff sergeant of the U.S. Air Force, was saddened and surprised by his brother's death.

"I have to say it is the hardest thing I've had to deal with," Corey Plowman said. "I never thought that it would be my younger brother who would get hurt. I always thought it would be me because I am older."

"Derek was always the life of the party, laughing and joking," Corey Plowman said. "Nobody didn't like to be around him."

Corey Plowman said his brother had many friends in Lehigh.

One of those friends, Rich Jones, held a barbecue cook-off over the weekend to raise money so that a group of Derek Plowman's friends who live in Lee County could fly into Everton, Ark. A group of about 25 people, including family and friends, were flying into Arkansas Thursday to attend the funeral today.

The funeral viewing is from 6 to 8 p.m. at Christeson Funeral Home in Harrison, Ark. The burial is Saturday at Western Grove Cemetery in Harrison, Ark., and the service is at the Valley Springs High School Cafetorium in Valley Springs, Ark.

Campbell said they have received several phone calls from Derek Plowman's friends in Florida, and from Lehigh Senior High School teachers.

While at Lehigh Senior High School, Derek Plowman was in the German Club, the Drama Club, the Key Club and other organizations.

"He did whatever he could do to be involved with people," Andrew Campbell said. "He never made it about Derek. It was about what he could do for them."

Derek Plowman is survived by his mother and stepfather, Kim and Andrew Campbell of Everton, Ark.; father, Donald Plowman Jr. of Cape Coral; grandfather Bill Riley of Lakeview Ark.; sisters, Ashley Plowman of Des Moines, Iowa, Angela Campbell, Zoie Campbell, Jodie Meeks, Josie Campbell, all of Everton, Ark.; brothers, USAF Staff Sgt. Corey Plowman of Warner Robins, Ga., Mike Plowman of North Fort Myers, Bryce Plowman and Dustin Plowman of Everton, Ark.

Army Pfc. Derek J. Plowman was killed in action on 07/20/06.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Army Cpl. Nathaniel S. Baughman

Remember Our Heroes

Army Cpl. Nathaniel S. Baughman, 23, of Monticello, Indiana

Cpl Baughman died of injuries on July 17 in Bayji, Iraq, when his HMMWV encountered enemy forces rocket-propelled grenades during patrol operations. Baughman was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Ky.

IDAVILLE, Ind. (AP) -- A grenade attack in Iraq killed a soldier from White County, just weeks before his mother said he was to return home.

Army Cpl. Nathaniel Baughman, 23, is the fourth serviceman from Indiana to be killed overseas this month.

Baughman died Monday from massive head injuries he suffered in the attack on his convoy, said his mother, Jill Baughman, who is executive director of the American Red Cross chapter for Cass and White counties.

Baughman was a 2001 graduate of Twin Lakes High School in Monticello, and his family lives in nearby Idaville, about 30 miles northeast of Lafayette. Survivors include his wife, Erin, and his son, Hunter.

He served in the National Guard before enlisting in the Army, Jill Baughman said.

"He was proud of what he was doing and stood up for his country and he had no regrets doing it," she said Tuesday.

Rocket-propelled grenades were fired at a vehicle in which Baughman was riding during the attack in Bayji, which is about 155 miles north of Baghdad, the military said. He was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Ky.

Army Cpl. Nathaniel S. Baughman was killed in action on 07/17/06.



Baughman Back

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Saturday, July 15, 2006

Army Sgt. Andres J. Contreras

Remember Our Heroes

Army Sgt. Andres J. Contreras, 23, of Huntington Park, Calif.

Sgt Contreras was assigned to 519th Military Police Battalion, 1st Combat Support Brigade, Fort Polk, La.; died July 15, 2006 of injuries sustained when his Humvee encountered an improvised explosive device during combat operations in Baghdad.

Army Sgt. Andres J. Contreras, 23, Huntington Park; Killed in Explosion
Times Staff Writer

Spurred by a strange feeling, Army Sgt. Andres J. Contreras turned to the gunner in his Humvee while on patrol in Baghdad on July 15 and insisted on switching seats.

When his commanding officer ordered him to stay put, Contreras said he couldn't explain why, but he knew that he needed to be sitting in the gunner's seat. His orders were coming from a higher source, he said.

Moments after he made the switch, a roadside bomb exploded and killed Contreras. The other soldier was bruised but alive.

When Contreras' parents heard the story, they weren't surprised to hear that he had died while saving another's life. Their son had always put family first -- blood relations and the military.

As an 11-year-old, Contreras took charge of his five younger brothers every day when his father left their Huntington Park home at 6 p.m. for his job as a security guard.

He changed diapers and helped his mother clean up after dinner. He chased his brothers into the bathroom in order to brush their teeth and tucked them in with bedtime stories.

It was the same in Iraq, where Contreras made a habit of putting the welfare of his fellow soldiers ahead of his own.

Contreras, 23, was assigned to the 519th Military Police Battalion, 1st Combat Support Brigade at Ft. Polk, La. He joined the Army in 2000 as a springboard to a career in law enforcement. The Bell High School graduate wanted to return home to become a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy.

He had an impressive career for a young sergeant, according to his peers. In six years, he had trained three platoons and been deployed to South Korea; Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; and Iraq.

On the field, Contreras was said to be attentive and meticulous with his gear. He hung around the shop after hours as Army mechanics repaired his squad's battered and banged up vehicles.

"He wanted me to teach him what I could so that if small situations came up he could handle them himself. That's not common. A lot of his peers would go home and leave the work to someone else," said Sgt. 1st Class Ray Robidas, who runs the maintenance shop for military police vehicles at Ft. Polk.

Contreras was said to stay long into the night asking questions, often returning before sunrise the next morning to check his squad's equipment again before training missions.

Army Sgt. Andres J. Contreras was killed in actoin on 7/15/06.