Spc. Chris McCann
2nd BCT PAO, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI)
YUSUFIYAH, Iraq — Soldiers of the 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (LI) gathered on the evening of Dec. 30 to mourn the loss of three comrades killed in the war on terror.
Sgt. Christopher Messer, Sgt. Curtis Norris and Spc. Nathaniel Given were honored by friends and command alike, all remembered as outstanding Soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving their country.
Capt. John Cullen Jr., commander of Company F, 4-31, quoted Ronald Reagan and the sonnet written by John Gillespie Magee that he used in his speech when the Space Shuttle Challenger went down.
“We will never forget them … as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye and ‘slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God’,” Cullen said.
Messer and Given, both of Company D, 4-31, were killed when an improvised explosive device detonated underfoot while they were searching for caches in the rural areas south of Baghdad.
Norris was serving as vehicle commander for a convoy with F Co. in a truck delivering Christmas dinner to troops in forward positions on Dec. 26 when an IED detonated, flipping the truck.
Given was remembered as a Soldier who came into his own in Iraq and “excelled in combat,” said Capt. Don Jamoles, his company commander and native of Salinas, Calif.
“Messer took charge of him and helped him,” Jamoles said.
“Norris wouldn’t want a pity party,” said Cullen. “Just for us to continue his mission… We can honor them by adopting their best traits – service and courage.”
Spc. Tyler Teesdale of Grandville, Mich., knew Norris for three years, he said.
“We always called him Chuck,” Teesdale said. “He was always available to talk to, always boosted our morale. He loved taking care of his daughter, watching movies, and every Saturday he’d watch Michigan football games.”
Norris was remembered by Staff Sgt. Raymond Spittler of Newport News, Va., as a man who put family first.
“His big thing was family. He met (his wife) Rose in the Army and they got married. He was all about his family.”
Norris was also something of a comedian, Spittler said.
“He was always the one to say something funny or crazy … and he was always there for the other Soldiers,” said Spittler.
Spc. Joseph Merchant of Westminster, Md., was close to both Messer and Given.
“They were awesome Soldiers,” he said. “It’s hard to put into words how they were.”
Messer loved fishing, and Given was a car aficionado. “He loved Camaro Z-28s especially,” Merchant said.
The three frequently spent time together at Fort Drum, said Merchant, who was Messer’s roommate for awhile.
“(Messer) loved his family more than anything,” Merchant said. “Given did as well.”
Messer’s awards and decorations include a Bronze Star Medal, a Purple Heart Medal, an Army Commendation Medal with ‘V’ device, a Valorous Unit award, a National Defense Service Medal, an Iraq Campaign Medal, a Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, a Global War on Terrorism service Medal, a Noncommissioned Officers Professional Development ribbon, an Army Good Conduct ribbon, an Overseas Service ribbon, an Army Service ribbon, a Combat Infantryman’s Badge, an Expert Infantryman’s Badge and a Driver’s Badge.
He is survived by his wife Aime and daughter Skyle of Fort Drum, N.Y.
Norris was posthumously promoted to the rank of sergeant, and was awarded a Bronze Star Medal, a Purple Heart Medal, an Army Commendation Medal, an Army Achievement Medal with three oak-leaf clusters, a National Defense Service Medal, an Iraq Campaign Medal, a Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, a Global War on Terrorism service Medal, an Army Good Conduct Medal, an Overseas Service ribbon, an Army Service ribbon and the Combat Action Badge.
He is survived by his wife Rose and daughter Kira of Fort Drum, N.Y.
Spc. Given’s awards and decorations include a Bronze Star Medal, a Purple Heart, a National Defense Service Medal, an Iraq Campaign Medal, a Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, an Army Service ribbon and the Combat Infantryman’s Badge.
He is survived by his parents Floyd and Donna Given of Dickinson, Texas.