Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Soldiers pay respect to fallen comrade

Soldiers honor memory of fallen comrade

Spc. Chris McCann
2nd BCT PAO, 10th Mtn. Div.

MAHMUDIYAH, Iraq – Patriotic country songs and music from the movie “Braveheart” drifted out of the maintenance bay as Soldiers gathered to mourn the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division’s first loss in this rotation to Iraq.
Spc. Bobby Callahan was a squad leader in Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment. Callahan, a mortarman and squad leader drowned when a Humvee overturned into a canal near Mahmudiyah. The Soldiers of his squad said he made sure they were out, but he was unable to get free in time despite their assistance.
It was Callahan’s second tour in Iraq.
Sgt. Eric Schultz, a close friend of Callahan’s, gave a tribute during the ceremony.
“I knew him for about two years,” he said. “We just hung out a lot and watched television.”
“He was a quiet leader,” Schultz said. “He led by example. And he was a young leader, in charge of that truck. He was always learning.”
Friends, laughing at the memories despite the somber occasion, recalled that Callahan was “really hard to wake up.”
“He’d do odd things (in his sleep),” said Staff Sgt. Terry Spiecher, a platoon sergeant for C Company 4-31. “He’d put on a fleece jacket as pants. …He could always make people smile. He had a broad sense of humor, loved to crack up,” Spiecher said.
“Everybody that met him got a good vibe from him,” Schultz said. “He was easy to carry on a conversation with, a simple guy. He loved to sing – (contemporary) rhythm and blues - anything.”
Callahan was married about eight months ago, said Sgt. Lucas Kinkade, a radio-telephone operator for HHC. His wife, Kristen, lives in Central Square, New York.
“I lived with him for awhile,” Kinkade said of Callahan. “We had an apartment off post. He loved to work on his car.”
When the roll was called at the ceremony and volleys fired, many Soldiers wept, and final respects were paid with coins and salutes, from Maj. Gen. James Thurman, 4th Infantry Division commander, to the privates in the company. Several knelt before the upright M-4 carbine and took the dangling dog tags in hand as if making sure of the name.
The Soldiers drifted away after the ceremony, back to work or to reminisce.
Although Callahan is no longer with them in body, he is in spirit, said Schultz.
“We can’t touch him with our hands, but we can carry him in our hearts.”
His awards and decorations include a Bronze Star, an Army Commendation Medal with “V” device, an Army Commendation Medal with an oak leaf cluster, a National Defense Service Medal, the Iraq Campaign medal, a Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, a Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, a Good Conduct Medal, an Army Service Medal and a Combat Infantryman Badge.
Callahan was posthumously promoted to corporal Sept. 24.

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