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V Corps Release

Release Date: 5/4/2004

By Spc. Shauna McRoberts 1st Armored Division Public Affairs Office

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- The eight Soldiers of V Corps' 1st Armored Division Soldiers killed in an improvised explosive device attack last week were honored in a memorial service at Striker Forward Operating Base on Baghdad International Airport May 2.

The Soldiers honored were: Staff Sgt. Esau G. Patterson Jr. of Ridgeland, S.C., survived by his wife Kisha, son Kevin, daughter Kesauna, and parents Esau and Carrie; Staff Sgt. Jeffrey F. Dayton of Columbus, Miss., survived by his wife Helen and his parents James and Sheila; Sgt. Ryan M. Campbell of Kirkville, Md., survived by his parents Mark and Mary Ann MacCombie.

Also honored were: Spc. James L. Beckstrand of Clarksville, Tenn., survived by his wife Marilena and his parents; Spc. Justin B. Schmidt of Bagley, Minn., survived by his parents; Pfc. Ryan E. Reed of Colorado Springs, Colo., survived by his wife Alicia and his mother Mary; Pfc. Norman Darling of Jamaica, survived by his wife Kimberly, his daughter Camryn, and his parents, and Pvt. Jeremy R. Ewing of Miami, Fla., survived by his parents Hilda and Arthur.

The eight Soldiers, all assigned to Battery C, 4th Battalion, 27th Field Artillery Regiment, died April 29 in Al-Mahmudiyah, Iraq, when a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device detonated near them. They were providing dismounted security for Task Force Iron Claw, a operation to clear improvised explosives devices from Iraqi roads, when they were killed.

"These courageous young men, who lived and fought with such passion over the past year, fell while doing their mission," said Capt. Jim Hickman, the Battery C commander.

"These men were heroes and they will never be forgotten."

During the memorial service, leaders and fellow Soldiers shared stories with a gathering of more than 100 people that included representatives from the division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team and Division Artillery Combat Team.

The eight fallen men were remembered as strong Soldiers who were dedicated to their duty and their brothers in arms.

"These men did everything right," said Lt. Col. Brian McKiernan, the 4/27th commander. "They never complained and they understood how much was at stake. They understood that this was their duty. They were proud sons, loving husbands, doting fathers and faithful brothers. They were Soldiers, America's finest."

McKiernan and Hickman stressed the importance of continuing the fight against terrorism.

"These (terrorists) do not understand, nor do they value, the principles of freedom and human rights," said McKiernan. "If anyone should forget why we are here, why these Soldiers made the ultimate sacrifice, let me remind you: we are fighting a global war on terrorism."

"The deaths of our friends and fellow Soldiers will not go in vain," said Hickman. "We will honor them by keeping up the fight against terrorism."

The eight Soldiers were posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star Medals.

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