By Spc. Ben Fox, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry DivisionOctober 29, 2007
BALAD, Iraq (Oct. 24, 2007) - As the sun set over Logistical Support Area Anaconda, Soldiers gathered in a crowded chapel to pay respects to their fallen comrade in Balad, Iraq, Oct. 24.
The troops packed the small chapel from wall to wall to remember the life of Spc. Vincent Madero, 2nd Battalion, 82 Field Artillery, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division.
"I was Spc. Madero's commander for a little more than one month," said Capt. Gregory Stopyra. "During this short time, I've learned about the Soldier and person he was.
"I regret not being able to spend more time with him, for he truly was a great inspiration and role model for all Soldiers," said Stopyra.
"They say first impressions are lasting impressions," said Sgt. Markus Witt.A,A "When I first met Madero, he made quite an impression on me.A,A He had just got to the battery, but he was eager to begin going out on patrols."
"Spc. Madero joined the Warrior 3 platoon in August, after volunteering for this duty from Alaska," said Stopyra.
"A fire direction specialist by trade, he was assigned to fill the duties of a member of a gun truck platoon," he said. "He embraced that opportunity with no question or pause.
"He understood that in today's Army, all Soldiers would be called to train and serve in non-traditional roles," Stopyra said.
"I came to know Spc. Madero during the dozen or so patrols I accompanied with his platoon," he continued. "As most new commanders, I tried my best to make my rounds in order to learn and know my men.A,A I didn't have to go far to find Madero.
"Usually, while on patrol, I would lean over and whisper to the patrol leader... about something, an issue, a simple task that needed to be done," said Stopyra.A,A "Before I could even finish my thought, I would hear a name -- 'Madero!'
"I would see a large figure... flash by and appear before my eyes," he explained.A,A "He would lean in close to hear what his leaders wanted him to do.
"There would be a quick head nod, a, 'Roger sergeant!', and he would quickly move out," Stopyra said.
"He was a hard worker in whatever he did," said Witt. "If you gave him a task, he would get to it.
"You never had to ask twice or wonder if it was done to standard," he said.
"His NCOs never had to check on him; they never needed to supervise," said Stopyra. "They simply had to assign a task and knew that it would get done."
"He was their 'go-to guy'," he said.
"He was a beast when it came to work," continued Witt. "He just never quit.A,A When I would tell him it was his day off today, he told tell me he didn't want it - he wanted to go out.
"His days off the whole time were because we forced him to... he wanted to keep going out with his patrol," Witt said. "He had a drive in him that you could not knock down with a sledge hammer.
"But he was also kind," Witt added. "If you needed help, you had to look no further than him, because you knew he would help.A,A He would drop whatever he was doing and give you a hand in a heartbeat and do so gladly."
"His actions served as a great role model for more junior Soldiers," Stopyra said.A,A "He knew he was always being watched and constantly strived to set the best example for others to follow."
"It takes time to grow roots with people like that," Witt said.A,A "It takes time to know them like a brother, but he fit in with everybody so quickly, we forgot he just got there."
"He understood the risks of being a Soldier; however, he did not let the fear of 'what if' paralyze his ability to do his job," said Stopyra.
"Madero accepted this risk and would always be looking to see what had to be done next," he said.
"His selfless service epitomizes the essence of a combat Soldier and a warrior," said Stopyra.
"He is someone you will never forget for the rest of your life," said Witt.