SPC. MIKE ALBERTS / U.S. ARMY
Lt. Col. Samuel Whitehurst spoke yesterday of his soldiers' ultimate sacrifice during a memorial service in Kirkuk, Iraq.
Schofield soldiers honor fallen colleagues
Schofield Barracks soldiers left tributes of coins, letters and past memories at a memorial service in Iraq yesterday honoring 10 of their own who perished in a Black Hawk helicopter crash a week ago following a night raid.
The soldiers were all assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment -- nicknamed the "Cacti."
Similar tributes were expected this morning at a private military ceremony, open only to members of the Schofield Barracks community, to be held in the post's main chapel. Gov. Linda Lingle ordered all U.S. and state flags to be flown at half-staff on all state, county and federal buildings today.
Army officials said in an e-mail that thousands of soldiers from Task Force Lightning participated in the tribute held in Forward Operating Base Warrior in Kirkuk -- just 21 miles west of where the Black Hawk helicopter crashed on Aug. 22.
Besides the 10 Schofield Barracks soldiers, four Fort Lewis, Wash.-based air crew members also perished.
At yesterday's Kirkuk tribute, 10 M-4 carbines were lined in front of a wall where poster-size photographs of the fallen soldiers were hung. Resting on the rifle butts were the helmets of the dead soldiers; their boots lay in front of each weapon.
COURTESY SPC. MIKE ALBERTS / 3RD INFANTRY BRIGADE PUBLIC AFFAIRS, U.S. ARMY
Troops held a memorial service in Kirkuk, Iraq, yesterday for 10 fellow Schofield Barracks soldiers killed last week in a Black Hawk helicopter crash.
As in past memorial services, friends came forth to honor their buddies:
Cpl. Jeremy P. Bouffard, 21, of Middlefield, Mass., who was assigned to Schofield on Jan. 16, 2006, was remembered as always wearing his Bravo Company baseball cap before heading out on a mission. Friends remembered Bouffard as "an avid Red Sox fan and an all around good person to be around."
Cpl. Phillip J. Brodnick, 25, of New Lenox, Ill., assigned to Schofield on Nov. 29, 2005, was "a great soldier with a great sense of humor. I will always remember talking to him ... He always struck me as a soldier with unlimited potential." He was "an extremely honest leader with integrity."
Capt. Derek A. Dobogai, 26, of Fond du Lac, Wis., who was assigned to Schofield on Oct. 10, 2004, always had a smile on his face. Friends said: "Capt. Dobogai was a great man. No matter the situation he always made an effort to find a solution. At no time did I ever hear him say something negative about a fellow soldier. ... He was smart, funny, energetic but most of all he was a friend to all. You will truly be missed."
Cpl. Joshua S. Harmon, 20, of Mentor, Ohio, assigned to Schofield on April 13, 2006, was "a good guy who I really enjoyed talking to. Every time we passed it was always cordial and pleasant. I know he was an outstanding medic and took his job very seriously. He cared a lot about his fellow soldiers."
Spc. Michael A. Hook, 25, of Altoona, Pa., assigned to Schofield on Jan. 11, 2006, was "a hard-working soldier and an excellent example of how other people should be. ... He was a great person who sets his mind to something and makes sure it is accomplished."
Cpl. Nathan C. Hubbard, 21, of Clovis, Calif., assigned to Schofield on Jan. 3, 2006, was "an extremely brave soldier who went through loss and still decided to fight. His character is unmatched. He was an outstanding guy."
"Cpl. Hubbard was one of the most motivated soldiers I've had the honor of knowing. Where you found Nathan you could always find his brother Jason. The two of them always pushed each other to only be that much better."
Staff Sgt. Jason L. Paton, of Powey, Calif., assigned to Schofield March 19, 2004, was "one hilarious individual and always knew how to make you laugh. He was serious when he needed to be and extremely dependable."
Spc. Jessy G. Pollard, 22, of Springfield, Mo., who was assigned to Schofield Oct. 7, 2006, was remembered as "a man of faith and always took his Bible studies to heart. You could always tell Pollard was in the tactical operations center because he had a loud and bright voice that matched his personality. He was a 'gym fanatic' in every sense of the phrase, always asking about ways to gain muscle and about fitness in general."
Sgt. Garrett I. McLead, 23, of Rockport, Texas, who was assigned to Schofield on Feb. 7, 2003, was "a sharp soldier who was there for other soldiers."
"He was helpful, friendly and an overall good guy that I always made sure I would talk to when we were around each other. On the day of a 'mock board' he went out of his way to help me with a subject I was struggling with, even though he was going to the same board and it took away from his studying time."
Spc. Tyler R. Seideman, 20, of Lincoln, Ark., who was assigned to Schofield March 23, 2006, was "always looking to better himself."
"Spc. Seideman was a dedicated and motivated soldier."