Adrienne Anderson
Family members of Sgt. Patrick Tainsh unveil his portrait May 29 at the dedication ceremony on Harmony Church.

FORT BENNING, Ga. (June 6, 2012) -- Family members and a former commander gathered May 29 at Harmony Church to dedicate a troop barracks, Building 4313, in honor of Sgt. Patrick Tainsh, who was killed in action in Baghdad in February 2004 while on patrol.

"I've heard (the word 'courage') quoted a different way … but I like the way it was put to me," said Lt. Col. Stacey Corn, Tainsh's commander in 2004. "Courage is the ability to look fear in the face and say, 'Get the hell out of my way. I've got a job to do.' That epitomizes Sgt. Tainsh and all of his actions."

Though mortally wounded by an improvised explosive device during an ambush, Tainsh returned fire, allowing aid to reach his fellow Soldiers. For his actions, Tainsh was posthumously awarded the Silver Star for conspicuous gallantry.

Corn, who traveled from Hohenfels, Germany, to attend the dedication, said when he needed a gunner while in Iraq in 2003, he wanted Tainsh.

"As my gunner, he could see things that nobody else would see," he said.

On Feb. 11, 2004, the unit was attacked while on patrol in Baghdad. Corn recalled the events.

"I noticed Tainsh had slipped," he said. "He kind of fell down in the turret and I thought, 'OK, he just slipped on a couple of brass rounds that were lying on the floor.' I didn't realize what had happened at that time."

Tainsh continued to fire and reload, Corn said.

"A few minutes later, the gun stopped," he said. Corn said he figured Tainsh was reloading again.

"And he dropped inside the turret and tapped me on the shoulder and very carefully said, 'Sir, I've been hit,'" Corn said. "I said 'OK' and looked back at him and then he collapsed."

When he was eventually medevaced out, Corn noticed Tainsh had run out of ammo.

"The whole time he'd been firing that weapon system providing cover," Corn said. "It's because he put the welfare of others before his own. That's the way he was. He told fear and death, 'Get the hell out of my way, I've got a job to do.'"

For retired Marine Sgt. Maj. David and Deborah Tainsh, Patrick Tainsh's father and stepmother, neither could have known their son's name would stand beside other Armor greats like Gen. George S. Patton.

Patrick Tainsh vowed he would never walk in his father's footsteps, Deborah Tainsh said.

"So many ironies," Deborah Tainsh said. "When Pat joined the Army, there were many skeptics of whether he would make it or not -- because he was the California surfer dude, the snowboarder, the purple hair, the earrings -- but he did (make it) and he couldn't have done it without great leaders.

"I told his dad the day we got the news, 'Honey, you've got no regrets because your boy came back to his roots -- the roots of a grandfather who was a tanker, the roots of a sergeant major in the Marine Corps who, survived Vietnam under conditions he shouldn't have.' Pat came back to his roots and he loved -- he ate, slept and breathed being a United States Army Cavalry scout."

Deborah Tainsh has honored her stepson by writing Heart of a Hawk, Eye of the Eagle: Operation Iraqi Freedom, Seen Through the Eyes of a Father and Mother, One Family's Life, Sacrifice, and Journey Toward Healing, A True Story.

In the 200-page book, she describes how her stepson left his rebellious youth to embrace his military roots. And it tells of a marriage buckling with the strain of grieving for the death of a son in different ways. She said she considered the book a Family's journey.

"On this journey, my husband and I, we were very lonely for the first year after Pat's transition beyond the veil," she said. "We learned that first year that we never wanted another parent or loved one to feel as lonely as we had felt. And we stepped out to do all we could in our community. He's not dead … (he's) transitioned to higher ground."

In a letter to his parents in case something went wrong, Patrick Tainsh penned these words:

"Hi, I'm writing you this letter because something went wrong … I just want you to know I tried to do the right thing. I came here to help some people who couldn't help the situation they were subject to. Maybe some day they will be able to enjoy freedom as we do. As for me, it was an honor to experience that freedom. It was an honor to fight and die with the American flag on my shoulder. Honor, that's a big word and some people don't know what it means. It's not something that happens right away. It's something that builds up inside your soul."

At the time of his death, Patrick Tainsh was serving with E Troop, 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Fort Polk, La. He was 33 years old.

In addition to the Silver Star, his other military awards and decorations include the Purple Heart, Bronze Star, Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Medal and Operation Iraqi Freedom Medal.

Page last updated Wed June 6th, 2012 at 15:07