By Spc. Ryan Stroud, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division Public AffairsOctober 10, 2007
MUQDADIYA, Iraq (Oct. 7, 2007) -- "This loss cuts deep and is still extremely painful for all of us," said Lt. Col. Keith Gogas, commander of 6-9 Armored Reconnaissance Squadron, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, about the death of five of his Soldiers supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom 06-08.
"Nothing we could say or do will ease [the families'] pain," he continued. "All we can do is ask God to give them strength to get though this difficult time, as well as giving them the peace of knowing these Soldiers were so deeply loved and respected by their fellow Soldiers.
"Today, we celebrate their life and accomplishments and remember how they touched our lives," Gogas said at the memorial ceremonies held at Forward Operating Base Normandy, outside of Muqdadiya, Iraq, Oct. 6 and 7.
Pfc. Christopher McCloud, Cpl. Todd Motley, Cpl. Jonathon Rivadeneira, and Staff Sgt. Terry Wagoner, all from Troop B, 6-9 ARS, died from wounds received in combat, Sept. 14. Staff Sgt. Kevin Brown, Troop A, 6-9 ARS, died from wounds received in combat, Sept. 25.
Many Soldiers from 6-9 ARS attended the memorials for the chance to say their last goodbyes and render one last salute to their fallen comrades.
"[McCloud, also known as 'Tex' by his fellow Soldiers,] came to me with a great outlook on life and strong family values," said Sgt. Justin Patterson, Troop B, 6-9 ARS. "He was motivated. The first training exercise we took him out on; he did great. No one would have ever known he was fresh out of basic [combat training].
"On his first mission, after eight hours of house searches, searching 75 houses with another 20 to go, I turned to Tex and said, 'Hey new guy, you alright''" Patterson said. "He looked at me and said, 'Hooah yeah, sergeant. This is what I signed up for.'"
"Tex was full of motivation and a positive attitude," he continued. "Some people are just natural Soldiers, born warriors. Tex was one of these selective few. Tex was fearless in the heat of combat.
"Clp. Motley was my gunner, but he was brother, my friend and he will always be a part of me," said Patterson. "Motley was the most motivated Soldier I knew. I never had to worry if I had Motley on my team. I knew he was fully capable to pick up and drive on in my absence.
"Motley wasn't just the most tactical and technical dismount-gunner, Motley was a warrior. He never complained about anything," he said. "We always taught each other to find the positive in the negative. No matter how bad it got, he could always find the positive in any situation."
"I'm blessed to have [Rivadeneira, 'Riva' to his friends] as a Soldier, and I believe his platoon was blessed to have him as their medic," said Cpl. Jesus Reyes, 6-9 ARS. "Riva never took his job lightly; he had made up his mind to become an Army doctor. To take care of Soldiers...was a privilege.
"Riva was a good Soldier, but more than that, he was a good man," he continued. "He had a good smile, a helpless sort of curiosity and a hardy laugh. He had a knack for telling a good story and he loved to listen to them as well.
"Riva also wore a Fossil watch that hadn't told time for God knows how long, because it reminded him of the person who gave it to him," Reyes said with a smile. "Occasionally, I would absentmindedly ask him what time it was, and he would hold up his wrist and say, 'I don't know!' like everyone else in the world wore a watch that didn't tell time. He was animated to say the least."
"He was our best friend," said Capt. Brice Roberts, Troop B, 6-9, about his Wagoner, who he called "Sparky."
"I really think we could have conquered the world with 'Sparky' at our side," Roberts said. "He could do any job in the troop. He would do it all throughout this whole deployment, without any complaints and he did it well.
"I will never forget how proud we were to have Sparky finally command Bradley, leading Soldiers into combat, and how proud he looked everyday.
"'Bandit' Troop will never be the same without him," he said. "As a cornerstone for this Troop, his knowledge, experience and laughter got us through this long, difficult deployment. Only time will tell how [we will] fare without him."
"He was a Cavalry trooper that went out and did his best everyday, always trying to make Iraq a better place for those that live here," said Capt. Michael Tanaro, commander of Troop A, 6-9 ARS, about Brown.
"Staff Sgt. Brown cared deeply for his Soldiers and he led them from the front each and everyday," he continued. "He did his best to make sure they were trained and prepared for every mission. Most of all, he wanted each of them to be successful, not just in the Army, but in all aspects of their lives."
"Anyone who knew Staff Sgt. Brown will tell you he was a deeply religious man who loved his family and fellow troopers," said Gogas. "He was that NCO who everyone felt comfortable talking with and the one you could count on, no matter how difficult the situation is, or how tough things were at the time.
"He was the one who always stayed calm and never complained," he said. "We all respected him, loved him and we will all miss him."
As the ceremonies drew to a close, each Soldier took the chance to say one last goodbye to their comrades.
"Motley, my friend, my brother; have no worries," said Patterson. "Your family is my family. You have so many friends who love you and do anything to help take care of your family. We love you.
"Tex, my brother, you will be severely missed," he continued. "We love you and miss you."
"You guys are one in a million," Patterson said, trying to hold back his tears. "I can only hope to get Soldiers like you again. I guess that's why the man upstairs called on you."
"Cpl. Rivadeneira, I have to tell you, I was proud of all the decisions you made when it was all on you," said Reyes. "I was proud to say you were one of my medics, and I'm prouder still to have served with you.
"I love you, and Riva," he said. "I will always have your back."
"I will forever miss Sparky," said Roberts. "I know he's in a better place right now, looking down on us and keeping us safe, and drinking coffee to his heart's content.
"We all love you, Sparky," he said. "God bless you."
"He was truly a dependable man, a professional NCO and a backbone of the Army," Tanaro said about Brown. "He was one of the best men I've ever known.
"God bless you and God bless America," he said.
"These heroes have had an effect on each and every one of us, and we're all better for having known them," said Gogas. "We will get through this, but we will never forget of fellow brothers, Cavalry troopers and friends."