By Kristin Molinaro, The BayonetSeptember 3, 2009
FORT BENNING, GA - SPC Richard Allyn Walters made a lasting impression on the troops of 14th Combat Support Hospital, who gathered Friday at Sightseeing Chapel to pay final respects to a man they called a father figure, mentor and friend.
"I will never forget my fellow brother-in-arms nor what his life has meant to me in the short time I've known him," said SPC Milton Warner, who spoke at Walters' memorial service.
Walters, 41, from Cleveland, died Aug. 10 at Ali Al Salem, Kuwait, of a medical condition shortly after arriving in country.
Warner and Walters met last year while both worked as licensed practical nurses at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Both were former Marines who returned to military duty with the Army after a 15-year break in service.
"Allyn was very compassionate and caring with patients, and always went out of his way to help families," said Warner, who is assigned to the unit's rear detachment. "He cared about everybody and never met a stranger. He was a good friend and I was trying to be like him in my profession."
Walters and Warner joined the 14th CSH in May. Shortly before the unit deployed, Walters received word that his father was terminally ill. Walters' father passed away in July and he was prepared to join his unit downrange in August.
From day one, Walters proved to be a dedicated Soldier and "left a lasting impression on me," said LTC Robert Mon, the 14th CSH rear detachment commander.
Mon recalled a task-force run the day before Walters deployed. Walters helped stragglers by driving a duty vehicle behind the running formation.
"I was speaking with a Soldier after the run and Specialist Walters got out of the duty vehicle and approached me. I knew he was deploying the next day and I said 'What are you doing here' Aren't you flying tomorrow'' Walters responded, 'Yes, sir, I'm just trying to help out,'" Mon said. "'Just trying to help out' left a marked impression on me for a Soldier who just lost his father, was leaving his family and friends for a year and (in one more day) flying into harm's way."
Walters was known for his good heart and ability to turn bad situations into positive ones, said SGT David Digiandomenico, a medic with the 14th CSH.
"The last time I saw him, I dropped him off at the airport to go to Kuwait," Digiandomenico said. "I joked around with him and said 'Hey, try to get me to Iraq, I want to get out of "Rear D", don't forget me Walters.' He said to me 'No, sergeant, I got you, don't worry about it.'
"It was a shock to me when he passed away,' Digiandomenico said. "It's kind of hard to swallow."
In a letter read at the memorial service, CPT Felicia Thomas, Walters' company commander, said, "Walters was a loyal friend, father figure and mentor. He was kind, giving, humble, funny and a darn good Soldier."
Walters is survived by his wife, Stephanie, and 11-month-old daughter, Rachel.
His awards and decorations include the Combat Action Badge, Navy Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal with Bronze Service Star, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Southwest Asia Service Medal with Bronze Service Star, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, Navy Fleet Marine Force Ribbon, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon and the Kuwait Liberation Medal.
He was promoted posthumously to the rank of sergeant.