By Amanda Kim Stairrett
Killeen Daily Herald
FORT HOOD – Staff Sgt. Bryant W. Mackey was a rock, a steady hand who epitomized the best of the Army and the country, his former colleagues said Wednesday.
Even after the native Kansan was mortally wounded on Feb. 20 in Mosul, Iraq, during a rocket-propelled grenade attack, he kept his composure. The area was too dangerous and a medevac wasn't possible, so Mackey rode in his crew's tank to safety, said Capt. Jonathan Elliott of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment's 3rd Squadron.
Even though he was injured, he joked with his gunner, who complained of a headache. Mackey never complained, Elliott said.
When the soldiers reached safety and were able to get help, Mackey's concern was still with his troopers. As he lay on the operating table, he said, with full consciousness, "How are my guys?"
The 30-year-old sergeant was selfless beyond imagination, Elliot said.
Mackey died from his wounds, leaving behind a wife, Marie, and three children: Ryan, Koby and Stephanie. This was his second tour to Iraq.
The regiment honored four of its troopers – Mackey, Capt. Torre R. Mallard, Sgt. Phillip R. Anderson, Spc. Donald A. Burkett – and one interpreter – Albert A. Haroutounian – during a memorial service Wednesday at Fort Hood.
"These men went to war together, as brothers in arms," said Maj. Dave Olsen, the regiment's rear detachment commander.
Mackey was known as a constant, but quiet professional, a keen observer who lived all seven of the Army values. Many thought he was shy, Elliott said, but those who knew him know that wasn't true. Mackey's fear was failing his soldiers, the captain added.
Mackey was a true soldier and a true family man, too, Elliott said. When the sergeant was on charge-of-quarters duty, his family would bring him dinner so they could eat together. On a chain around his neck, Mackey wore the engagement ring he gave to his wife. Even she didn't know he wore it, Elliott said.
Mallard, Anderson, Burkett and Haroutounian – all of Fox Troop, 2nd Squadron – died on March 10 in Balad Ruz, Iraq, when their vehicle came upon a roadside bomb.
Mallard was the troop's commander, a 27-year-old Alabama native. He was focused on making the troop the best it could be, Olsen said.
Mallard lived his life the way a cavalryman should, said Capt. Joseph Mroszczyk. He was quick-witted and compassionate with his men. He was the type of officer who expected the best out of his soldiers and leaders, not afraid to give them a boot or pat on the back, Mroszczyk said.
Mallard was also known for his strong faith and close relationship with his local church. He leaves behind a wife, Bonita; sons, Torre Jr. and Joshua; father, Mose Mallard III; and his mother, Robin Mallard.
Anderson was proud to be a tanker, the troop's executive officer said in remarks read by Mroszczyk on Wednesday. Because of his skills, he was selected to be Mallard's gunner. The executive officer has to know a bit about everything, Mroszczyk read, and it was "only because of soldiers like Sgt. Anderson teaching me that I knew anything at all."
Anderson, a Missouri native, truly embodied the noncommissioned officer spirit, Mroszczyk said.
Anderson was 28 at the time of his death. He is survived by his wife, Melanie; son, Warner; mother, Raven; and father, Ken.
A native of Brownwood, Burkett was a young soldier who exemplified the Army spirit, Olsen said. He was a man of action who had a caring nature and sense of humor. Burkett, 24, was known for a goofy smile and positive attitude, said a fellow soldier in remarks read by Mroszczyk. The specialist would never complain, no matter how annoying the task, he added.
Instead of hitting up bars and clubs, Burkett preferred to stay at home with his wife, Brandi; son, Mason; mother, Carolyn J. Gray; brothers, Geoffrey J. Brown and Wayne W. Burkett; and grandmother, Faye L. Gray.
Haroutounian was a 36-year-old native of Kuwait who immigrated to the United States after the death of his mother when he was 14. He was a published author who wrote, "The Clock Doc," a combination of romance, sci-fi, adventure and drama.
After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, Haroutounian tried to get work as an interpreter, but was at first denied, according to information from the regiment. In January 2008, he became Fox Troop's interpreter, where he served with distinction.