First Team Remembers Fallen Comrades
September 24, 2007
FORT HOOD, Texas - "Sabers never quit!"
With the sounding of their unit motto, Capt. Chris Wooldridge, the rear detachment commander of the 6th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, gave the order to fall out.
With that order, about 20 troopers slowly moved across the grass of the 1st Cavalry Division's Memorial Chapel to meet Robert Baloga, the father of Pvt. Michael Baloga, who was killed in Muqdadiyah, Iraq, July 26.
One by one, the Soldiers tell him about their experiences working with his son, and how he will be greatly missed.
Wooldridge explained that the families of the unit's fallen troopers always requested to speak with some of the Soldiers that served alongside their trooper.
"It provides them a sense of closure," Wooldridge said.
He explained that although he can't always get a formation together following the division's memorial ceremony, Soldiers will exchange phone numbers or email addresses in order to keep in touch with their fallen comrade's family.
According to Wooldridge, meeting the Gold Star families also helps out the Soldiers, who get the opportunity to get to know the fallen at a another level.
"It takes it beyond the Army," Wooldridge said.
Baloga, a cavalry scout who joined the Army in November 2006, exhibited a motivated and can-do attitude and always enjoyed learning something new, said Spc. Joe Jenkins Sept. 20 during the division's memorial ceremony.
"He wanted to learn, and saw everything as a learning opportunity," Jenkins said.
According to Jenkins, Baloga was also a very dedicated father. He joined the Army in order to provide for his daughter Isis.
"He loved her unconditionally and more than anything in this world," Jenkins said. "Everything he did was devoted to providing her with the best life possible."
The First Team honored seven fallen troopers during the ceremony, including Spc. Donald Young, an infantryman with the 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment of the division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team.
According to Sgt. 1st Class Blaine Dowell, Young loved fishing - but he wasn't very good at it, he seldom caught any fish.
"I guess it would be better to state he loved spending time with family and friends while sitting in a boat with a string dangling in the water," Dowell said.
Dowell said not being very good at fishing was frustrating for Young, who spent part of his life growing up in Montana, but he never quit trying.
"He never gave up and always strived to get better at whatever he set out to accomplish," Dowell said.
Dowell explained that everyone who met or worked with Young will never forget the positive times they shared together.
"He was a Soldier's Soldier and will be dearly missed by his fellow comrades," Dowell said.