Black Jack Soldiers remembered for great leadership, service to country
May 26, 2009
FORT HOOD, Texas - For the first time of this Iraqi deployment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division's rear detachment command, held a memorial service May 21, at the Ironhorse Chapel on Fort Hood, Texas, for two of its own.
Pfc. James McCoy, a tanker assigned to Company D, 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, and Staff Sgt. Leroy Webster, an artilleryman assigned to Battery B, 3rd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, were both deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom 08-10.
McCoy, who was 21, was home on mid-tour vacation April 21, in Minnetonka, Minn., when he was found dead, and Webster, who was 28, was on patrol near Kirkurk, Iraq, when he was fatally struck by sniper fire April 25.
During the service, Capt. Michael Dolan, 3rd Bn., 82nd FA's rear detachment commander, who also served with Webster during 2nd BCT's last deployment to Iraq, spoke about some of the "fond" memories he had.
"He lived down the hall from me, and if there was any kind of ruckus going on outside my door, I knew he was involved in it somehow," Dolan gave a smile as he addressed Webster's family seated in the first row. "I would come out of my door ready to yell at someone but then I would see him, laugh, not care anymore and ask him and his buddies to keep the noise down.'
'He had that kind of spirit about him ... the kind that would make you laugh instead of getting angry or frustrated," he continued. "Staff Sergeant Webster was certainly a character, one that made the unit, the Army, and this earth a better place."
Dolan, through other Soldiers within the battalion described Webster as a Soldier who "embodied" selfless service. "Staff Sergeant Webster was the first to drop what he was doing to help a friend - especially if it presented an opportunity to steal a quick beer with the boys."
Webster, who grew up in Hartley, Iowa, had originally enlisted in the Iowa National Guard in 2001. He had deployed to Afghanistan while in the guard. In 2006, he transferred to the Regular Army and was assigned to his current unit.
Dolan said Webster would always be remembered by everyone in "Thunder Battery" who served with him.
"There are many terrific NCOs (noncommissioned officers) who are fantastic guys - some who are fun, some who are superb leaders. There are a select few NCOs who are such great leaders and outstanding people that officers, NCOs and Soldiers fight to have them in their units ... this is Staff Sergeant Webster: a great NCO, an exceptional person and a wonderful friend and brother."
Webster is survived by his wife Jessica, and their daughters, Natasha, Kaydence, and Jadyn, and his parents, Donald and Crystal.
McCoy, had not quite served a full year in the Army as he enlisted last May and arrived to Fort Hood last September. He deployed with his unit in January.
Capt. Pete Friend, 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment's Rear Detachment commander, said although McCoy's time in his unit was brief, that he left behind a great memory for his fellow troopers, but even with that, there was still some feelings of guilt.
"Some of the Soldiers in this formation have taken James' death particularly hard because they wish they had been there for him - somehow changed something in order to avoid this from happening, but you can't be everywhere and regardless of what happened, it was certainly not your fault," he said.
Friend quoted a poet who wrote, "To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded," and said that McCoy made every Soldier a better person.
"We could only be so lucky to live such a fulfilled life," Friend said of McCoy.
McCoy is survived by his parents, Jody McCoy of Minnetonka, Minn., and his father, Bryan McCoy of Haynesville, La.