Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Army Specialist Robert J. Volker

Remember Our Heroes

Army Specialist Robert J. Volker, 21, of Big Spring, Texas

Spc. Volker was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas. He died Dec. 20 in Baghdad, Iraq, of injuries suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his HMMWV.

Big Spring Herald -- By STEVE REAGAN Staff Writer.

The war in Iraq has claimed one of Big Spring’s own. U.S. Army Spec. Robert J. "R.J." Volker, 21, died Wednesday when his vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device. Two other soldiers traveling with Volker were injured in the incident.

Volker was a life-long resident of Big Spring and a 2003 graduate of Big Spring High School, where he played French horn in the band.

"He was a very fine young man," BSHS Band Director Rocky Harris recalled. "He was just outstanding for us ... We have great memories of him and were very touched by his loss. We definitely feel for his family."

Volker also had a brief flirtation with sports.

"He tried to play football, until he realized he was smaller than everyone else out there," said his mother, Melissa.

"R.J." was remembered as a young man who enjoyed having fun, but also had a serious, caring side. That sense of caring is one factor that led him to Iraq, his mother said.

"He was always in and out of our house when he was growing up," said family friend Adrian Ayala. "He was just a good kid ... playful, lively. He enjoyed things."

Melissa Volker said her son joined the service soon after his younger brother, Johnathan, enlisted into the Navy in September 2005.

"Three days (after Johnathan enlisted), R.J. told me to go with him because he was joining the Army," Melissa said. "He just couldn’t let his little brother go without him."

After completing basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., Volker completed combat engineer school before shipping overseas in October of this year.

He was assigned to the First Calvary Division. His duties included finding IEDs and snipers.

"He just missed this one," Melissa Volker said of the incident that took her son’s life. The other two passengers in Volker’s vehicle were injured — one critically — but both were expected to survive.

His mother said Volker realized the controversial nature of the war in Iraq, but believed in the cause which eventually took his life.

"He did not like being there. We called it ‘the catbox.’ Every time I talked to him, I asked him if he cleaned the catbox," she said. "But he was protecting a people ... who had been beaten up and bullied for a long time. My son always tried to help people. He heard the cry (in Iraq), so he went to help."

Volker is also survived by his wife, Martha, and his father, Robert. Funeral services are pending at Nalley-Pickle & Welch Funeral Home.

Army Specialist Robert J. Volker was killed in action on 12/20/06.

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