|Fort Hood 1st
Calvary News 08/03/07:
1st Cavalry News
6-9 ARS honors fallen Soldier in ceremony
By Spc. Ryan Stroud
3rd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. PAO
MUQDADIYA, Iraq (Aug. 3, 2007) -- “Michael was one of those special few who had the gift of raising the spirits of those around him, no matter how difficult the situation,” said Lt. Col. Keith Gogas, commander of 6-9 Armored Reconnaissance Squadron, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, about the death of one of his Soldiers, Pvt. Michael Baloga.
“He could find the positive side of any situation. I’m very thankful that so many of us got to know him and he was able to touch so many lives when he was with us,” said Gogas.
Baloga died from wounds received in combat, July 26. He is survived by his daughter, Isis, his wife, Mellissa, and his mother and father, Linda and Robert Baloga.
“The loss of this young hero is absolutely devastating to all of us and we miss our brother cavalryman,” Gogas said.
The memorial ceremony for Baloga was outside the headquarters area at Forward Operating Base Normandy, near Muqdadiya, Iraq, Aug. 3.
Many of Baloga’s brothers-in-arms were present to show their respect and render one last salute to their fallen cavalryman while others spoke of their fondest experiences with him.
“Anyone who knows Baloga will tell you a there are a couple of things that stick out about him,” said Gogas. “First and foremost, he loved his daughter, Isis, and his primary goal was to give her the best life possible.”
“Private Baloga was also an extremely dedicated father,” added Capt. Michael Panaro, commander for A Troop, the troop which Baloga served.
“His primary reason for joining the Army was so he could provide for his daughter,” Panaro continued. “She was the sunshine of his life and in his every thought. You could not have a single conversation with him without him talking about his daughter.
“He often looked to the older Soldiers and NCOs in his platoon for tips on how to be a better father,” he said.
Panaro also spoke about Baloga’s time with his company and what he meant to the troop.
“He immediately formed a bond with his squad and the guys in his troop,” Panaro said. “He distinguished himself by being motivated and trying to learn everything that he could about his job and his equipment.
“He was unbelievably devoted to self improvement and being the best that he possibly could,” he said.
“[Baloga] died while on a mission to conduct a cooperative medical engagement,” continued Panaro. “He, as well as the rest of his troop, were on [a mission] to help make a difference and provide hope to the citizens of Iraq. He will be pleased to know that we still accomplished that mission.”
When Pfc. Christopher Heinrich spoke about Baloga, he spoke directly to him while holding back his tears.
“You gave your life for those who don’t know freedom, you gave so others with know what freedom is,” Heinrich said. “You will be greatly missed; know that you will be with us always. We know that you’ll be looking down upon us and watch our every step.”
As each Soldier said their final words to Baloga, a 21-gun salute was shot in honor of his memory and his service to his country.
“He laid down his life while going to help others,” said Gogas. “We celebrate his life and his accomplishments because he is an example for all of us to emulate and he’s a true American hero.
“I know [we’ll] get through this loss, but I also know [we] will never forget [our] fellow cavalryman and friend,” he said.
“Isis, I know there is nothing that we could ever say that would make up for this tragic loss, but I want you to remember always that your daddy was a hero,” said Panaro.
“All of us here today, and those at home, will look at ‘Old Glory’ differently, for it shines a little brighter,” said Heinrich. “For the sacrifices you have paid, you are loved among your brethren and we are honored to have known you. We will never forget you.”
|From USA Today usatoday.com:
Army Pvt. Michael A. Baloga
Michael A. Baloga abandoned construction work so he could join the Army. After putting in his time, he planned on going to school, then launching a career so he could provide for his 1-year-old daughter, Isis. He wanted to see her grow into womanhood. On his MySpace page, Baloga wrote that two of his biggest goals were to watch Isis graduate, and to give her away at her wedding. "The whole reason he went into it was pretty much for his daughter," said his sister, Leah Valade. Baloga, 21, of Everett, Wash., died July 26 in Muqdadiyah from an explosive. He was assigned to Fort Hood.Baloga enjoyed music, dancing and going to raves. He earned the nickname "Joker" in high school. Baloga got married during the summer of 2005. He and his wife — Isis' mother — were going through an amicable divorce when he died. The last time he contacted his sister was when Baloga asked her to send a package of candy and baby wipes. "The family fully supported him," Valade said. "Michael was a considerate person, the best friend you could possibly ask for." He also is survived by his parents, Robert and Linda.