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4th Infantry honors fallen soldiers

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Posted: Wednesday, July 19, 2006 12:00 pm | Updated: 3:17 pm, Wed Aug 15, 2012.

By Emily Baker

Killeen Daily Herald

FORT HOOD – Maj. Gen. James D. Thurman keeps a special list of names in his right hip pocket.

Every day, the 4th Infantry Division's commander reminds himself of the soldiers he has lost in Iraq by looking at that list.

On Tuesday, at home on two weeks of rest and recuperation leave, Thurman joined the 4th Infantry's rear at a memorial service remembering 13 soldiers who died in Iraq since May.

Thurman also added a new name to his list. Staff Sgt. Jason M. Evey, 29, of Stockton, Calif., died Sunday in Baghdad after his Bradley fighting vehicle rolled over a roadside bomb, the Army announced Tuesday.

The 4th Infantry's fallen soldiers "will have a special meaning for the rest of my life," Thurman said after the memorial service, which was held at the division's chapel. "Events like this are lasting for me as a commander."

The soldiers' memories should be lasting for all Americans, as well, the division's rear commander said.

"These heroes deserve the right to never be forgotten," said Col. Dick Francey.

Soldiers who eulogized their fallen comrades told stories about soldiers who volunteered for extra duty to help prepare their units for combat, loved their families, brought cheer to others and wanted to protect America from terrorist attacks.

First Lt. Ryan T. Sanders and Sgt. Daniel R. Gionet, who served with the 1st Battalion, 66th Armored Regiment, were remembered for their enthusiasm. Both were killed June 6 in Baghdad when a roadside bomb exploded near their tank.

Sanders earned bachelor's and master's degrees in English and sometimes wrote orders in beautiful language often greeted by other officers with "cricket noises and dumbfounded faces," said Capt. Jason Hanson.

Gionet loved French and Italian cuisine and had dreams of becoming a chef and owning a restaurant, said Spc. Edmund Patterson. Gionet joined the Army as a cook but reclassified as a medic because he thought he could help more people. During the June 6 attack, he was too injured to help other soldiers, but he shouted out medical orders anyway, Patterson said. He also refused medical attention until the other injured soldiers were treated.

Cpl. Luis D. Santos of the 1st Battalion, 68th Armored Regiment died June 8 from a roadside bomb blast.

"His greatest desire was to serve his nation," said Capt. Geoffrey Pickett.

Santos was shy and quiet, but he got along with everyone, Pickett said.

Cpl. Jeremiah S. Santos of the 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, had an adventurous spirit, said Staff Sgt. Robert Winn.

He loved hunting snakes and set out on a childhood adventure once with only $5 and a bag of Legos. He died June 15 when a roadside bomb exploded near his Humvee.

Sgt. Jason J. Buzzard, who served in the same battalion as Jeremiah Santos, died June 21 when a roadside bomb exploded near his cargo truck. His father was his best friend, and he was a San Fransico 49ers fan, said Staff Sgt. Frank Dozhier.

Pfc. Devon J. Gibbons of the 7th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment enjoyed horseback riding and was a Boy Scout, said Sgt. 1st Class Lance Maney. Gibbons died June 23 at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio from injuries he received from a roadside bomb explosion in April.

Staff Sgt. Virrueta "Alberto" Sanchez of the 1st Battalion, 68th Armored Regiment, never complained about the amount of work he had to do, said Capt. Nicholas Long. He had built a reputation of excellence by turning a group of "know-nothing privates" into a combat-ready, disciplined unit, Long said. Sanchez died June 24 after a roadside bomb exploded near his Humvee.

Sgt. Benjamin J. Laymon of the 1st Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, enjoyed impersonating late comedian Chris Farley and was "a model noncommissioned officer," said Capt. Tom Kyne. Laymon and Sgt. Justin D. Norton died June 24 after encountering a roadside bomb and small-arms fire during a foot patrol.

Norton liked blues music and wrestled and played football in high school, said 1st Sgt. David Yost. Norton also looked out for other soldiers and even called them while he was on leave to help them study for promotion boards, Yost said.

Cpl. Jeremy S. Jones of the 1st Battalion, 67th Armored Regiment also was a wrestler in high school, said 1st Lt. Jon Schaeffer. Jones' wife often said he was never as happy in a job as he was in the Army, Schaeffer said.

The senior noncommissioned officer of Jones' company nicknamed him "Bulldog," and Jones was so proud of that, he got a bulldog tattoo. Jones died June 27 after a roadside bomb exploded during a combat encounter.

Sgt. 1st Class Terry O. Wallace of the 4th Battalion, 42nd Field Artillery Regiment wooed his future wife, his high-school sweetheart, by volunteering to paint her mother's house, said Staff Sgt. Rickey Nicks. He died June 27 after a roadside bomb exploded near his Humvee.

Sgt. James P. Muldoon of the 1st Battalion, 68th Armored Regiment was so excited to see his family again, he had a countdown posted online that marked down to the second when he would return home, said Capt. Glenden Hanun. Muldoon died June 29 from a gunshot wound he received at a control point.

Cpl. Christopher D. Rose of the 1st Battalion, 67th Armored Regiment wanted to become a police officer after his service in the Army, said Sgt. Christopher Labrie. Rose joined the Army before becoming a police officer because he wanted to make sure "America never gets bombed by terrorists again," Labrie said. Rose died June 29 after a roadside bomb exploded during a combat encounter.

Evey, who likely will be included in August's monthly memorial service, joined the Army in September 2000 and was a cavalry scout with the 4th Infantry's 1st Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team.

His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Combat Action Badge, Global War on Terrorism Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Kuwait Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Overseas Ribbon, Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon and Expert Rifle Badge.

Contact Emily Baker at ebaker@kdhnews.com

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