Operation Iraqi Freedom, Fallen Heroes, Iraq War 03/19/03

Andrew R Tobin

Jacksonville, Illinois

August 24, 2011

Age Military Rank Unit/Location
24 Army Sgt

2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division

Fort Drum, New York

 Killed in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, when enemy forces attacked his unit using small arms fire.

8/28/2011 - A U.S. Army carry team transfers the remains of Army Sgt. Andrew R. Tobin, of Jacksonville, Ill., at Dover Air Force Base, Del., Aug. 26, 2011. Tobin was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y. (U.S. Air Force photo/Roland Balik) 

From The Journal Courier journalcourier.com 09/01/11:

Wreath placing ceremony for Sgt. Andrew Tobin
September 01, 2011 5:45 AM
Sgt. Andrew Tobin may not have been from Alsey, but he was well known in the community.

When former Mayor Rod Sturgeon heard the news that he died Aug. 24 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit using small arms fire, he wanted to honor the fallen soldier.

Tobin, 24, was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y.

Sturgeon knew Tobin through his wife, Katie Tobin.

Katie Tobin grew up in Winchester, but Alsey is her “adopted town” because she visits her grandparents frequently, she said.

The plan was for the town to buy a wreath and place it on the park memorial that lists the names of those in the community who have served, Sturgeon said.

“They called me and wanted to do something and I accepted with open arms,” Katie Tobin said. “I love this town very much.”

It eventually grew into a ceremony Wednesday evening with words shared by Sturgeon,

Capt. Joshua Radliff of the U.S. Army Reserve and Col. Jim Mackey, retired from the U.S. Air Force.

Sturgeon knew Andrew Tobin personally. During the ceremony, Sturgeon shared that for a long time he thought Andrew Tobin’s first name was Tobin because everybody called him by his last name.

The Tobins visited the Sturgeons’ house when he was in town for rest and relaxation, Sturgeon said.

“[Andrew Tobin] is from Los Angeles, so, coming to very small towns like this, he loved it,” Katie Tobin said. “The first thing he’d ask when he got off the plane, ‘Do we get to go to Alsey?’ Tobin just loved this town so much.”

Andrew and Katie Tobin celebrated their third anniversary on July 26 when he came in town for his rest and relaxation.

During the last two weeks they spent together, the two discussed lifelong plans and spent a lot of time with friends and family, Katie Tobin said.

“He lived life to the fullest while he was here,” she said. “It never crossed our minds. We enjoyed every minute we were together.”

A color guard made up of members of the Winchester and Jacksonville American Legion and the Winchester VFW marched in about 6:30 p.m.

About 150 people attended the ceremony.

“Though Tobin was not from Alsey, he was the first soldier who was killed in action that many of us knew personally,” said Sturgeon during the ceremony. “To Katie, we say, ‘Thank you. Thank you for sharing him with the country and with us.’”

Radliff placed and saluted the wreath while the color bearers raised their flags and the riflemen their rifles.

“I’ve never really spoke with someone who talked that much about career progression,” Radliff said. “He loved what he did.”

Radliff respects that Andrew Tobin chose active duty, he said.

“Most people wouldn’t be able to put up with the things they go through,” Radliff said. “If you talked to [Andrew Tobin] on the street, you wouldn’t know he did the kind of things he did.”

Alsey may be a small community, but it does have a strong military presence, Sturgeon said.

The last two soldiers with a connection to Alsey who were killed in action were fighting in the Vietnam war.

One thing was certain — the community will certainly miss Andrew Tobin.

“This picture here was the way he looked most of the time,” said Sturgeon, indicating the program, “like he was ready to take on the world.”

Update [11:30 a.m. 09/01/11] to say that Rod Sturgeon is the former mayor of Alsey.

From The Journal Courier journalcourier.com 09/06/11:

Fallen soldier laid to rest
Sgt. Andrew R. Tobin, 1986-2011

September 06, 2011 6:11 AM
The playing of “Barbie Girl,” an uptempo pop tune, echoed through the funeral home, undoubtedly bringing a few smiles to the faces of those attending an otherwise solemn service for a fallen soldier.

About 300 people filled Buchanan & Cody Funeral Home in Jacksonville Monday morning to say farewell to Army Sgt. Andrew Tobin, 24, who died Aug. 24 in Afghanistan of wounds suffered when his unit was attacked by enemy forces.

Eulogists at the service primarily spoke of Tobin’s zest for life and his outgoing, often goofy nature.

Tobin’s Uncle Mark Tobin said the family was amazed at the outpouring of support and will always remember how fun his nephew was to be around. “He loved his country and he loved his life,” his uncle said.

Manteno High School friend Larry George recalled his first encounter with Tobin freshman year. “He showed up with bleach-blond hair, sunglasses and wearing a brightly colored polo,” George said. “He said that’s the way they dressed in L.A.” Tobin had formerly lived in California.

George echoed what others said about Tobin. “He lived life to the fullest,” he said. “He had a great work ethic. He was a great friend and would do anything I asked.”

Tobin’s high school friend added that Tobin believed in his military service, but at the same time he “loved to party and had a wild and crazy side.”

Propped on easels throughout the funeral home were dozens of photographs that captured all sides of Tobin, including many that showed that “wild and crazy side” of him.

The frozen moments in time pictured him as a playful child, hamming it up with friends and as a loving boyfriend and husband. And then there were the pictures of him as a dedicated soldier.

Sgt. 1st Class Stephen Card spoke briefly of the Tobin he knew and loved.

Card said he could be having a particularly bad day and Tobin would walk in wearing women’s underwear or “a pair of shorts he should have worn when he was 6.”

On a serious note, Card said, “Tons of people owe their life to Sgt. Tobin. He knew what he was doing and he loved what he did.”

Outside the funeral home, scores of American flags ringed the parking lot, fluttering in a strong northerly breeze, while about 125 Illinois Patriot Guard Riders, who honor fallen American service men and women, stood watch.

After recordings of “Barbie Girl,” one of Tobin’s favorite songs, and a bagpipe version of “Amazing Grace” were played, a large and silent crowd watched as Tobin’s flag-draped casket was carried to a white hearse.

About the only thing breaking the silence was the sound of the flags snapping in the wind.

The funeral procession, led by the Patriot Guard Riders, wound its way through Jacksonville and past MacMurray College, which Tobin attended a few years ago, before going to Asbury Cemetery southeast of Jacksonville.

Asbury Cemetery, formerly known as Union Cemetery, was established in 1876 and holds the graves of military veterans of many American conflicts dating back to the Civil War.

Funeral director John Buchanan said the family chose Asbury Cemetery as Tobin’s final resting place because they like “the peaceful setting” near the east end of Lake Jacksonville and it also contains the graves of some of his wife’s family.

At the graveside, two Army sergeants reverently and tightly folded the American flag that covered Tobin’s casket and presented it and two other folded flags to family members.

The ceremony also included a rifle salute by an Army color guard from Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., and the traditional playing of “Taps.”

“The military funeral rites and traditions date back hundreds of years and are designed to honor our fallen,” Illinois National Guard Maj. Brad Leighton said. 

“We like to think it provides comfort to the family. The Army is very family driven and we try to adhere to their wishes. What is often lost is that after the color guard and everyone else has gone home, you are still left with a family that has lost a dear loved one.”

From The Journal Courier journalcourier.com 09/06/11:

Community turns out in force to pay respects
September 06, 2011 6:13 AM
The funeral procession for Sgt. Andrew Tobin started about 12:45 p.m. Monday, but people in the community began gathering along Morton Avenue early in the morning.

Tobin, 24, died Aug. 24 of wounds suffered in Afghanistan. His funeral was at Buchanan & Cody Funeral Home at 11 a.m.

Jamie Potter was one of about 125 Illinois Patriot Guard Riders that participated in the funeral.

“All of us came here to show our respect to someone who came to defend our country,” Potter said. “He gave the ultimate sacrifice for our rights and freedoms.”

Potter served in the Air Force, but not during war time. When he served he was a single man, but he knows from some of the married men he served with what kind of sacrifice it is to have to leave your family.

In the service, everyone you serve with is family, Potter said. He’s been out of the Air Force more than 30 years, but he still keeps in touch with the men he knew then.

Potter’s wife, Cindy Potter, teaches in Winchester School District, and Tobin’s wife, Katie Tobin, was one of Potter’s former students, so “this hits close to home,” Jamie Potter said.

It hit close to home for Alice Towers, too. Her son Justin Perez is in basic training for infantry at Fort Benning, Ga.

Towers and Ray Turner both served in the Army — Towers from 1990 to 1994 and Turner in Afghanistan and Iraq from 2001 to 2003 when he was involved in a helicopter crash that left him disabled.

Turner held a flag that he’s had since high school; he’s flown it in his yard, in the Army and still has it today.

Neither Turner nor Towers knew Tobin personally.

“God bless all soldiers,” Towers said. “If it wasn’t for Sgt. Tobin, we wouldn’t be able to stand here and do this.”

The Jacksonville and South Jacksonville fire departments hung a giant flag between their buckets that waved in the crisp north breeze over Morton Avenue.

“It’s the least we can do to show our honor,” Fire Captain Doug Sills said. “In the grand scheme of things, it’s probably not very much. It doesn’t compare to what he did, but it’s an honor to get to go out and show respect.”

Members of the Westboro Baptist Church drove into Jacksonville to protest the funeral, standing in an area designated by police. They left after 45 minutes, before the funeral started, a timeline established earlier with police.

Jamie Potter stayed outside during the funeral to ensure none of the protesting group wandered down to Buchanan & Cody Funeral Home.

Part the purpose of the Illinois Patriot Guard riders is to protect the family from “groups that shouldn’t be here,” he said.

Casey Collins and Sue Ann Mullen stood by their place of work on West Morton Avenue with flags they brought from home.

Mary Fox stood not too far from them.

“It makes you feel proud to be an American,” said Fox, motioning to all the people who had come out. “I feel that a community should come out. [The servicemen] are doing the dirty work while we’re over here, so we should show our support.”

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