Soldiers bid fond farewell to fallen comrade
November 5, 2007
BAQOUBA, Iraq (Nov. 3, 2007) -- "Cpl. Adam Chitjian was a loving husband, a true friend and a great Soldier," said Capt. Mathew Miletich, commander of E Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, about the death of one of his Soldiers, Adam Chitjian.
"We talk about what a tragic day 9-11 was for America, but for Adam, it was the inspiration he needed to show his love for his country and the respect of those who wear the uniform," he continued.
"He enlisted because he wanted to defend America's freedom and serve side-by-side with his brethren," Miletich said. "Adam embodied the true American warrior leader spirit. If the Army needed a poster-boy for what qualities a Soldier should possess, Adam was at the top of the list.
"He had the values, virtues and qualities every leader wanted in their formation. Adam had them all," he added.
Chitjian died from wounds received in combat Oct. 25. He is survived by his wife, Shirley; his father, Martin; and his sister, Karen Ann Spatola.
Soldiers and friends of E Co., 3-8 CAB, came together to render one last salute and goodbye to their fallen brother-in-arms, while others spoke of their fondest memories of Chitjian, Oct. 31.
"The one thing I remember most about Cpl. Chitjian was his big heart," Miletich said. "No matter what problems he faced, whether at home or at work, he was always there to lend a helping hand, give an ear to listen to, give the shirt off his back, or just pick you up when you were down.
"His platoon called him 'Pappy,' because he was the oldest in his platoon, but he treated everyone like a son," he continued. "You could never think of a bad thing to say about him, he was the heart and soul of this company."
"I met Chitjian two years ago when I came to the platoon," said Chitjian's platoon sergeant, Sgt. 1st Class Andrew Smith.
"He was about a year older then me so I asked him, 'Are you prior service''" Smith asked. "He explained he hadn't joined until he was well into his thirties. He said, 'I was that guy who got mad after 9-11. Everybody was talking about it and what we needed to do and I decided to do more than just talk about it.'
"He took a pay cut to join the Army... and after graduating basic [training], he went to Fort Hood and did just what he had joined to do," he continued. "He spent a year in Iraq fighting for his country with the 1st [Cavalry Division]. He expected to get out of the Army after his time was up and resume a civilian life.
"Just short of getting out, the Army stop-lossed him to comeback for a second year," Smith said. "While he would have preferred [exiting the Army], he didn't slack off or complain in any way, ever.
"I was the one who told him the stop-loss was final. He had actually started clearing the Army," continued Smith. "Instead of being angry or bitter, he told me he was relieved that he knew what had to be done and he could start to focus on the deployment. And then he smiled and said, 'Hell, it'll be fun. That's what I joined the Army for anyway.
"His positive spin on life was an interracial part of my platoon and our platoon's character," he said. "He helped shape those around him with his since of duty, his level of confidence, his since of adventure and his willingness to help anyone who needed it, regardless of the uniform he was wearing.
"In the whole time I knew him, he never once was in trouble, I never had to make a correction, never had to check behind him and there was never a foul word between us," said Smith. "He was absolutely dependable. We could count on him for anything personal or professional.
"He made us laugh whenever he was around, no matter what we were doing," he said. "He wasn't a comedian or a clown; he just thoroughly enjoyed life and was genuinely fun to be around."
"He was a good friend and looked at as a 'Soldier's Soldier,'" said one of Chitjian's friends and fellow Soldier, Spc. James Buss.
"He was always there to help you whether it was with your gear, motivation or making a mission feel four hours shorter by humoring us with his comments and stories," he said. "You could always see that he was young at heart and I always felt that he felt younger being around us. When he talked to you, you never felt any kind of age barrier. I don't think I've ever met a younger 39-year-old man in my life.
"He was proud to be a Soldier, he never wanted to stay behind," said Buss. "He always pushed himself throughout all the missions, and to learn what he could about the area. He cared a lot about the Iraqi Soldiers, and would bring them gear to help them out in their missions, just as he did with us."
As the ceremony for Chitjian came to a close, each Soldier said their one last goodbye to their fallen brother.
"It was a joy knowing him and an honor serving with him," said Smith. "He will be greatly missed."
"It is my honor to have served with him, but more of an honor to have even known him," added Buss. "He will be greatly missed by us all."
"For us who had the experience to be in Cpl. Chitjian's presence, we are all better for it," said Miletich. "He had a unique way of opening his eyes to all situations and opening his arms in a time of need.
"I, for one, am a better leader, a better friend and a better husband because I knew Adam Chitjian, and I thank him for that," he continued.
"Adam, you will be sorely missed but never forgotten," Miletich concluded. "May your true warrior spirit live on through all of us."