By Amanda Kim Stairrett
Killeen Daily Herald
FORT HOOD – Staff Sgt. Ryan Sullivan and Sgt. Raul Fuentes were like big brother, little brother.
They disagreed and fought constantly, but when it came time to protect each other, the differences flew out the window.
"That is the type of soldier, type of friend, type of staff sergeant Sully was," Fuentes said Monday.
The 1st Cavalry Division's 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team hosted a memorial ceremony for Sullivan, who died Oct. 14 in his Killeen home.
Police found Sullivan after soldiers in the battalion's Alpha Company asked for assistance when he didn't report for morning physical training or formation.
Preliminary autopsy reports released Oct. 17 indicated that Sullivan died of "multiple sharp-force injuries," typically indicative of stabbing or cutting. The Killeen Police Department is investigating his death as a homicide.
Second Brigade returned from a 15-month deployment to Iraq in January.
"We all knew the dangers we had just left behind but we were not fully prepared for the hazards we faced upon our return," Lt. Col. David Lesperance, battalion commander, said of returning units.
The soldiers must continue to watch over and care for each other daily, he added.
"It's an unfortunate fact that at some level we all try to prepare ourselves for the loss of soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, but we don't expect that to happen here," said Capt. Justin Michel, Alpha Company's commander.
"It's tempting to ask ourselves about the fairness of what happened to a man who made so many sacrifices, to ask why was his life cut short. But I don't think that's fair to (Staff) Sgt. Sullivan. Because while his life was short in years it was rich with accomplishments and his effect on those around him."
Sullivan was a team leader as a private first class and a "go-to guy" for 3rd Platoon, Michel said. He deployed to the Balkans and twice to Iraq and was excited to go back for his third tour to lead the "young, eager soldiers" with whom he trained hard, Fuentes said.
Sullivan loved his job, never knew the words "I quit" and was fond of saying there was no military occupational specialty but the infantryman.
At the ceremony, Fuentes had this to say about his friend:
"Sully, a while back we made a promise like high school kids that if anything were to happen to either of us, as men, a tear we would not cry. Today I must break that promise, my friend, for as a friend, a tear I cry. The memories, your kindness, your friendship will stay with me forever. I'll take care of it."
Contact Amanda Kim Stairrett at email@example.com or (254) 501-7547.