By Amanda Kim Stairrett
Killeen Daily Herald
FORT HOOD – Soldiers, friends and family members gathered Wednesday to remember two from the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment in the first memorial ceremony since the troops deployed last month.
Honored were Spc. Christine M. Ndururi and Spc. Juan F. Roman.
The ceremony included a performance by Bill Herridge, who played "Amazing Grace" on the bagpipes while standing in the middle of the 4th Infantry Division Memorial Chapel.
Ndururi immigrated to the United States from Kenya with her family in 2003. She wanted to rise to the rank of sergeant major so she could help soldiers become better leaders. It was also her goal to become a nurse so she could open a hospital and school in her native country, Chief Warrant Officer-4 Jimmie Brooks said.
Staff Sgt. James Carley was Ndururi's platoon sergeant when she arrived at the regiment. She told him that boys become men in Kenya when they successfully killed a lion.
Carley joked that he would always be a boy because he would never attempt something like that. Suppose, he joked, it was the lion's lucky day? After that, Ndururi and Carley would always joke that he was just a big boy, something they continued until she deployed.
Ndururi was known for that sense of humor and keeping a smile on the faces of her superiors and other soldiers, said Maj. David Olsen, the regiment's rear detachment commander. He remembered shaking hands with her at Robert Gray Army Airfield the day she left for Kuwait. He said as she approached the waiting plane on the tarmac, she was laughing with friends.
"The Lord gave us an angel, and she's still looking over us," Carley said.
Ndururi died Nov. 6 at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait – just a month shy of her 22nd birthday. She is survived by her parents, Wilson N. Wachira and Mary W. Mwaniki of Dracut, Mass.; three brothers, George, Simon and Ambrose; and a sister, Faith.
Roman loved his family – wife Ellen and daughters Jocelynn, Amanda, Angelique and Sasha – and often talked about them.
"You were his pride and joy," Capt. Brian Hollandsworth said to Roman's daughters at the memorial ceremony.
The Brooklyn native rejoined the military after Sept. 11 and deployed to Iraq four years later with the regiment when it was at Fort Carson, Colo.
Although he was a tanker, his squadron needed fuelers and he readily switched jobs, Hollandsworth said. While some combat-arms soldiers would think that move was beneath them, Roman saw it as another opportunity to serve, Hollandsworth said.
Roman was that kind of team player and hard worker. He had the initiative and desire to improve himself, taking online correspondence courses. The specialist would always go beyond what was asked, Sgt. Michael Harmon said. Leaders never had to worry Roman wouldn't finish a job.
Harmon also remembered that Roman always had a smile on his face, whether it was during physical training or while in formation.
Contact Amanda Kim Stairrett at email@example.com or call (254) 501-7547