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My son Rick was a lively energetic guy who loved life and was always filled with laughter... Rick was born in Letterman Army Hospital at the Presidio of San Francisco, California on the 21st of November 1981.
Rick enjoyed all sports and he was very competitive even when he had little talent for a particular game, he always strived towards winning. Rick loved looking the best he could be and lifting weights became his passion, he had the body most men wanted and girls drooled over.
Rick loved to fish and we always enjoyed are fishing competitions amongst his brother Tyler, Rick and I.
Rick joined the Army in September 1999 from Chambersburg, Pennsylvania and went to Basic Training at Fort Benning, Georgia and Advanced Individual Training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri as a Combat Engineer Wheel Vehicle Mechanic. Rick's first assignment was to a Support Battalion in 3rd Corps at Fort Hood, Texas.
Rick's next assignment was to the 54th Combat Engineer Battalion in Bamberg, Germany from 2002 to 2007; Rick loved his time in the 54th and made a lot of friends there. Rick did two combat tours with the 54th, the initial combat tour was for the invasion of Iraq during the 2nd Gulf War when the 54th was attached to the 3rd Infantry Division and the second combat tour was the 54th was deployed to Ramadhi, Iraq for Route Clearing of IEDs and support of combat operations in Ramadhi. Rick was promoted to Sergeant and was awarded the Combat Action Badge (CAB) while assigned to Charlie Company, 54th Engineers during his second deployment to Iraq. Rick also sent to the Sapper Leaders Course at Fort Leonard Wood while assigned to the 54th. While being assigned to the 54th Rick decided that he wanted to branch transfer to the Infantry, but had to wait until his next enlistment.
In 2007 Rick was reassigned to the 1st Sustainment Brigade at Fort Riley, Kansas and did not like this assignment and the Army approved his transfer into the Infantry. While assigned to Fort Riley Rick went to the Basic NCO Course at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Rick attended the Advanced Infantry Course at Fort Benning, Georgia in 2008 and while training there he became the Platoon Sergeant of a composite Infantry Platoon of basic trainees. While training at Fort Benning Rick was promoted to Staff Sergeant.
After Infantry School Rick was transferred Heidelberg, Germany to the Special Troops Battalion for the V Corps Headquarters and worked in the G-3 Training Section, Rick was not suited for office work and was disappointed because he wanted to lead a squad of Infantrymen in an Infantry Battalion. When the call went out in August 2009 to increase the combat strength in Afghanistan the V Corps deployed a staff from the headquarters to support the additional personnel increases and Rick was one of the soldiers from the HQ that went. Rick was assigned to the International Security and Assistance Force (ISAS) Drive Team responsible for driving and security of VIPs moving them in and around Kabul Afghanistan. Rick came back to the states in late February 2010 on R & R and married his fiancee Paulina, and went back to Afghanistan never to see each other again. Rick was leading a convoy of VIPs on 18 May 2010 and was in the first vehicle as the security commander with his driver Specialist Tomilson, and 2 Lt. Colonels, 1 Colonel, and 1 Canadian Colonel when his vehicle was struck by a vehicular borne explosive device packed with 1700 lbs of explosives killing everyone in the vehicle. Rick was do to return back to Germany in 60 days and move on to Fort Jackson, South Carolina in December 2010 for assignment as a Drill Sergeant; Lina was set to join him and start a family.
We were officially notified of Rick's death at 5pm EST on the 18th of May 2010 by the 28th Infantry Division Casualty Affairs Office Chaplains at our home in Pennsylvania. On the 20th of May 2010 my younger son Tyler, Rick's wife Lina, SFC Beckner our Casualty Assistance Officer, and I went to Dover Airforce Base to view the Dignified Transfer of my son and the other five soldiers killed. We were met and received by the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, Admiral Mullen, and the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, General Vessey. The whole process at Dover was somber, dignified and very respectful. The following week Lena, Tyler and I went to Germany for a V Corps Remembrance Ceremony for Rick and his Drive Team Partner Sergeant Tomilson at the Patrick Henry Village (PHV) Chapel. The Ceremony was attended by several soldiers and civilians, taps was played and a rifle salute; the ceremony was emotional and tearful for us. Remarkably we were the first family to attend a service in honor or a fallen soldier that the Army paid the expenses for travel, food and lodging; President Obama had signed an executive order in May 2010 allowing immediate family members expenses to be paid for by their branch. President Obama also authorized family attendance at the dignified transfer at Dover AFB.
Rick was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery on the 11th of June 2010 and our Funeral Officer was Major General Rueben Jones, Commander of the US Army Morale, Welfare and Recreation. MG Jones presented Lina and I with Rick's Bronze Star and Purple Heart in the Reception Center of the Arlington Administration Building in the presence of our friends and family prior to the funeral procession. The funeral started with Rick's casket removed from the hearse and loaded onto the caisson by the 3rd Infantry, once his casket was arranged with our flag, we walked behind the caisson and the military band to the section on York street where we were adjacent to Rick's burial site. The Patriot Guard Rider's had a 30 man contingent in a platoon formation in the grass next to York Street where the caisson had stop to allow the Old Guard to remove the casket. We followed the casket to the grave site, we were seated and the Fort Myers Chaplain gave a Eulogy written from the words and memories of Rick by his wife Lina, it was very graceful. A volley of rifle fire rang out from the 21 gun salute, taps followed, the flag over the Rick's casket was folded by the Old Guard and it was presented to us by MG Jones. The representative of the Arlington Mother's gave her condolences as well as the Secretary of the Army Honorable John McHugh. There was well of three hundred people in attendance; friends, families, and fellow soldiers all paying their respect to my son Rick.
There isn't a day gone by that I don't miss my son Rick, some days are filled with the pleasant thoughts of his memory and laughter and some days are filled with tears. I have caught myself on more than one occasion looking to an email or phone call from Rick, only to be reminded that he is with my parents in heaven seated with jesus and smiling down on us..