By Paul Bello/For the News & MessengerJanuary 24, 2011
Soldiers with Fort Belvoir's 212th Military Police Detachment gathered with friends and family Tuesday for a candlelight vigil to remember Sgt. Zainah Caye Creamer, who was killed Jan. 12 when insurgents attacked her unit with an improvised explosive device during a route and building clearance mission in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
Creamer, who was 28, was a soldier for a little more than six years and was assigned to Belvoir in October 2009. She was an Army dog handler and was serving her second deployment with the 2nd Battalion of the 502nd Infantry Regiment.
Creamer was remembered by colleagues during the vigil for her incredible smile and for her work with her partner, Jofa. The two had gone to Afghanistan four months ago and, together, made an unbelievable tandem. Jofa was not hurt in the blast that claimed Creamer's life.
"She loved Jofa like her own child. If anything happened to that dog she would have been devastated," said Sgt. 1st Class Sumalee Bustamante. "I can't say I've ever met anyone quite like Sgt. Creamer. She was professional at all times and was an example to all female soldiers. She's going to be missed by so many people."
Like Bustamante, many who gathered remembered a woman with a one-of-a-kind smile and an insatiable personality. Sgt. Johnny Kyte, a dog handler like Creamer, said she was very outgoing and couldn't recall a time when she was unhappy.
"She was a charismatic person that would lift the spirits of everyone around her. It takes a strong person to work in the kennels and I know she enjoyed her work immensely," Kyte said. "I've known other soldiers that have died in combat, but losing her hits the hardest. This is a huge loss for his unit."
Andrew Wesley, a gate guard with Wackenhut Services, Inc., said he was shocked when he heard the news of Creamer's death. He had done vehicle inspections with her in the past and won't forget her kindness toward others.
"She always had a positive attitude and a smile whenever you saw her. Her smile could light up a room," Wesley said. "She was a pleasure to be around and I enjoyed working with her a lot. I can't believe she's gone."
Fellow guard Chad Eagerton has similar memories of Creamer. Together, they would work nights and he will never forget her positive work ethic.
"She took her job seriously and had a great attitude, no matter what," Eagerton said. "She was a very professional officer and I'm going to miss seeing her with Jofa. They made a great team, those two."
After a moment of silence for his fallen colleague, Sgt. Ruben Alvarez remarked that his fondest memory of Creamer would be watching her play with Jofa during his night shift at the MP station.
"She would talk to Jofa and play with him like he was her baby," Alvarez said. "She loved that dog. Not seeing them together is heartbreaking."
Alvarez and Bustamante said Creamer's family has expressed interest in adopting Jofa in her memory. Creamer was from Texarkana, Arkansas.
A memorial service for Creamer was held at Woodlawn Chapel Friday.