|From The Journal Gazette journalgazette.net
Last updated: September 1, 2010 8:35 a.m.
GI from Huntington killed
Dies in roadside bombing near Kandahar, family says
Joyce McCartney and Jeff Wiehe | The Journal Gazette
When you first met him, Chad Clements could be very timid. But after he got to know you, he was your best friend.
That was one of the first things Clements’ sister recalled about him Tuesday, less than 24 hours after the 26-year-old Army soldier from Huntington was killed by a roadside bomb while on a mission in Afghanistan.
“Chad had a big heart,” Danielle Clements said in a Facebook message sent to The Journal Gazette.
He was killed by an improvised explosive device Monday, his sister said in the message.
He is the first area soldier killed in combat in more than two years.
Few details have been released about the death of Pfc. Chad Clements, including where his death occurred. His death has not been confirmed by the Department of Defense.
Monday night, the Los Angeles Times reported that seven U.S. troops were killed in roadside blasts that day, but none of those soldiers was identified. According to the newspaper, one of the blasts killed five troops riding in a Humvee on the outskirts of Kandahar, which the U.S. military has focused on securing.
Clements joined the Army in 2009 to “serve and protect” his country, his sister said. He was a 2002 graduate of Huntington North High School and was stationed at Fort Carson, Colo. His job in the military involved transportation, his sister said.
Clements had been home in Huntington for two weeks before being deployed Aug. 5.
“Chad loved his family and friends with all his heart,” Danielle Clements said.
She also recalled her brother’s love of the Fort Wayne Komets and Pittsburgh Penguins hockey teams and collecting memorabilia of NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt.
He also admired a certain NFL quarterback when he was younger and would delight his family when donning that quarterback’s jersey.
“Our fondest memory of Chad was when he was little he used to dress up like Joe Montana!” she said in the Facebook message.
Clements is preceded in death by his father, Daniel R. Clements, and a brother, Zachary James, his sister said. In addition to his sister, he is survived by his mother, Anne Beady Tarter, and his stepfather, Ed Tartar, as well as grandparents, stepgrandparents, a stepbrother and stepsister and a host of other family members and friends.
According to the Washington Post, 1,220 U.S. troops had been killed in the war in Afghanistan as of Aug. 24. In Iraq, 4,403 U.S. troops have been killed, according to the newspaper.
The ‘Raider’ Brigade remembers Pfc. Chad Clements
Posted: September 7, 2010 in Uncategorized
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan – The ‘Raider’ Brigade mourns the loss of one of our own, who was killed MOnday, 30 Aug. near the Arghandab river valley outside Kandahar City, Afghanistan while on a combat logisitics patrol.
Pfc. Chad Derek Clements, a 26-year-old native of Huntington, Ind. was assigned to Forward Support Company, 1st Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.
Clements was loved dearly by his fellow Soldiers and known for his incredible worth ethic, and ability to take on monumental tasks with ease.
“Chat was one of our hardest working and smartest Soldiers in the platoon,’ said 2nd Lt. Guy Stark, Forward Support Company platoon leader for 1-66. “He was a best friend to many in the platoon and could always raise spirits, when needed.”
“I would always run into him at the gym with his friends and he was always lifting more than I could,” said Stark. “That’s the best way I can describe Clements; as a guy who could put a lot of weight on his shoulders and carry it around wherever it was needed, with ease.”
Clements enlisted in the Army as a Motor Transport Operator in February 2009. he attended Basic Training at Fort Jackson, S.C., then Advanced Individual Training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. Upon completion of his training, he reported to Fort Carson, Colo. where he was assigned to FSC, 1-66.
“Chat Clements was an outstanding Soldier that served in the ammunition section of the platoon and worked closely with his mentor, Staff Sgt. Kessler,” said Sgt. 1st Class Sean Patterson, FSC platoon sergeant for 1-66. “He’s one of the finest Americans that I have ever had the privilege to serve with.”
A memorial in Pfc. Chat Derek Clements’ honor was held in Afghanistan.
|From The Gazette gazette.com
Bombing brings week's Carson deaths in Afghanistan to 7
September 02, 2010 11:30 AM
The Pentagon said that five Fort Carson soldiers were killed Monday by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan, and two other deaths have been confirmed by family members.
The five died Monday when their unit was attacked while on patrol in the Arghandab River Valley, near Kandahar.
They were identified as Capt. Dale Goetz, 43, of White, S.D.; Staff Sgt. Jesse Infante, 30, of Cypress, Texas; Staff Sgt. Kevin J. Kessler, 32, of Canton, Ohio; and Pfc. Chad D. Clements, 26, of Huntington, Ind., of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division and Staff Sgt. Matthew J. West, 36, of Conover, Wis., of the 71st Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group.
Two other deaths confirmed by family members haven't been announced by the Pentagon.
Fort Carson Staff Sgt. Casey J. Grochowiak died in Afghan combat Monday, his father, Ed Grochowiak, confirmed Wednesday.
Family members told The Gazette that 1st Lt. Mark Noziska, 24, of Grand Island, Neb., also died in Afghanistan on Monday.
The bulk of Fort Carson soldiers in Afghanistan are serving with the 1st Brigade Combat Team. The 3,800-soldier unit is assigned to southern and western Afghanistan where its troops are responsible for training Afghan military and police units.
The 71st Group soldiers are Fort Carson’s bomb-disposal experts who are trained to track down hidden roadside bombs and destroy them.
The deaths come as combat heats up between U.S. forces and the resurgent Taliban. The Pentagon has reported 56 Americans killed Aghanistan in August. The bombing that killed five Fort Carson troops is the deadliest incident for the post since eight soldiers fell in a Afghanistan firefight last fall.
The Defense Department said Wednesday that Goetz is the first American chaplain killed in the 9-year-old Afghanistan war. He is the first Fort Carson chaplain to be killed in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Friends say the Baptist minister was an Air Force veteran who joined the Army’s chaplaincy because he desired to help others.
“He was definitely a fun-loving man, an energetic kind of fellow,” said the Rev. Jason Parker, Goetz’s pastor at High Country Baptist Church in Colorado Springs.
Parker said Goetz had joined his church the day before he left for Afghanistan.
“His goal as a chaplain was not to be a social worker, but to be a spiritual guide,” Parker said.
Goetz had served in Iraq. The married father of three feared fighting in Afghanistan, but had high goals for his year at war, said the Rev. Stuart Schwenke, an Iowa pastor who went through ministerial training with Goetz.
He worked through the summer teaching soldiers how to strengthen their marriages and to prepare their families for the long separation.
In Afghanistan, Goetz wanted to bring 300 soldiers to know Jesus and had told friends that three GIs had accepted Christ in his first month overseas.
Friends said they knew Goetz would see combat alongside the soldiers who made up his flock.
Goetz had a calm demeanor that helped soldiers find strength in the darkest of times, Schwenke said.
“He brought peace in the midst of turmoil,” Schwenke said.
Goetz had earned the Meritorious Service Medal and was a three-tiome recipient of the Army Commendation Medal.
Infante, a 10-year veteran of the Army, served a year in Iraq before deploying again in late July. He was a bomb disposal specialist who served with the 1st Brigade’s 4th Support Battalion, and planned to spend his career in the Army, his family told the Houston Chronicle.
His stepmother, Nancy Infante, told the newspaper that Jesse Infante was hoping to be home for the birth of his son in November and that he planned to name child Jesse. He also had a 6-year-old daughter, Kassandra.
Jesse Infante was born and raised in Houston and graduated in 1999 from Sam Houston High School, where he joined the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, the Chronicle reported.
“He was a great man, a great soldier,” Nancy Infante told the newspaper. “He was out there fighting for all of us and we’re all going to miss him.”
He was a three-time recipient of both the Army Commendation Medal and the Army Achievement Medal.
Clements joined the Army in 2009 and was trained as a truck driver. The Indiana native went to Afghanistan in July on his first war deployment. He served there with the brigade’s support battalion, driving vehicles along dangerous roads where bombings and ambushes are increasingly common.
Clements hadn’t been in the Army long enough to earn high honors, but his reason for service was clear, family members said.
“Chad had a big heart,” Danielle Clements said in a Facebook message sent to The Journal Gazette of Fort Wayne, Ind.
On Facebook.com, Clements’ friends reacted to his death with shock, grief and anger.
“I will get them for you, bro,” one friend wrote.
Kessler, 32, also was a truck driver. He served two tours in Iraq before deploying to Afghanistan in May.
He was honored with the Army Commendation Medal for valor for his work in combat and is a seven-time recipient of the Army Achievement Medal. He was with the 1st Battalion, 66th Armored Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.
His uncle, Barney Kessler, said he was the oldest of four children and had been married to his wife Adrian for more than five years. The couple, who lived in Colorado Springs, has been trying to have a baby for years and found out Adrian was pregnant just before his deployment.
“He was happy no matter how bad a mood he should have been in,” Barney Kessler said. “He never talked negative.”
He said his nephew joined the Army in 2004 when he needed a job and thought it would be a good career move.
“He was proud of being in the Army. He was proud to serve his county.”
West, a bomb disposal expert and Bronze Star recipient, left for Afghanistan in late July, after serving earlier tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, Fort Carson service records show.
He was a 1992 graduate of Gaylord High School in northern Michigan and received a bachelor’s degree in 1997 from Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Mich., according to news reports.
His wife, Carolyn, and three children live in Colorado Springs, according to a report in the Gaylord News Herald in Michigan.
Grochowiak, 34, was riding in a convoy Monday that was stopped by suspicious activity on the road. He and his platoon leader stopped and got out to investigate and were hit by a roadside bomb, his father said.
“They were killed instantly,” Ed Grochowiak said from Dover, Del., where several family members were awaiting the return of his son’s body.
Grochowiak was a native of San Diego County in California and was athletic and loved to surf, ski and snowboard, Ed Grochowiak said.
After graduation, he married his high school sweetheart, Celestina, in 1995, and worked construction jobs before enlisting in the Army in 1999.
“He really excelled in the Army,” Ed Grochowiak said. “He decided to be career Army.”
Casey Grochowiak was selected for infantry school, and served seven years in the 82nd Airborne before volunteering for Ranger school where he ended up teaching at the “swamp school” in Florida for three years.
When he wasn’t showing aspiring Rangers how to catch and eat poisonous snakes, he loved to spend time with his wife and their two children, 14-year-old Matia and 6-year-old Deegan, all of Colorado Springs.
“He and his kids were inseparable,” Ed Grochowiak said. “He was a great father and husband.”
As previously reported, famliy members said Mark Noziska also was killed Monday by an improvised bomb. He was a graduate of Papillion-La Vista High School in Nebraska and the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
“He was kind of a prankster. He liked to have fun, and he did everything with a smile,” said his older brother, Troy Noziska.
Gazette reporters Bill Vogrin, Matt Steiner, Maria St. Louis-Sanchez and Lance Benzel contributed to this story.