Wednesday, January 11, 2006

KCTV5 - Soldier With 101st Airborne Killed in Explosion in Iraq

Defend American: DoD Identifies Two Casualties

Spc. Clinton R. Upchurch, 31, of Garden City, Kansas, died in Samarra, Iraq, on Jan. 7, during patrol operations when an improvised explosive device detonated near his HMMWV and enemy forces attacked using small arms fire. Upchurch was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Ky.

KCTV5 - Soldier With 101st Airborne Killed in Explosion in Iraq

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (AP) -- Cindy Upchurch had just put the care package full of cookies and candy in the mail when she heard the terrible news -- her soldier son would never be able to open it.

The Army announced Tuesday that Spc. Clinton R. Upchurch, 31, of Garden City, was killed Saturday near the predominantly Sunni Arab town of Samarra, about 60 miles north of Baghdad. He was the gunner on one of three Humvees that were escorting higher-ranked officials.

He is the 22nd Kansan to die in the war in Iraq.

"(The Army representatives) said he died a hero, that he saved his guys," Cindy Upchurch said. "Knowing Clint, I'm not surprised he died defending them. He did his mission. That's just the kind of guy he was."

It was the end, Upchurch said, of her son's lifelong dream. She had tried to talk him out of the service but couldn't, maybe because it was in his blood. His father served in Vietnam; his grandfather and great-grandfather were veterans too.

"It's been something he and I have been fighting about since he was 17," she said. "But I knew he would enlist and I knew he was doing something he wanted to do. He loved the service and defending his country."

The soldier was killed when a roadside bomb detonated near his Humvee and enemy forces fired on him. He had joined the Army in August 2004 and was assigned to Fort Campbell, Ky., in March 2005. Before that, he worked for the Finney County Sheriff's Office.

( close attention to this comment from the mom)"As a mom, you know there's danger involved. But to me, he wasn't in any more danger over there than here," Upchurch said.

Garden City Telegram - Clinton Upchurch

"As a mom, you know there's danger involved. But to me, he wasn't in anymore danger over there than here," where he worked in the Finney County Sheriff's Office gang unit, she said.

Notice anything different?

Continue on, because Clinton's story of his life is as important as his death.

She said the family hopes Clint Upchurch's stepson, Ryan, who is stationed in Kuwait, can escort his stepdad's body back to the U.S. Clint Upchurch had another stepson, Earl, with his wife Kari, who still is at Fort Campbell.

According to the news reports, Clint Upchurch was in IRR and re-enlisted as active duty when he took his stepson Ryan down to the recruiters office. That was about two years ago, right in the middle of the war in Iraq.

Clint Upchurch will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C., and there will be memorial services at Fort Campbell and in Garden City. Her son planned it all before he was deployed to Iraq.

It's important, Cindy Upchurch says, for his buddies here and there to get a chance to say goodbye.

Upchurch's roots in Garden City were deep. He was a fourth-generation resident and lived his whole life here, save a few years after high school and since he enlisted in the Army in 2004.

He was raised in the Word of Life Church, played football at Garden City High School and earned an associate's degree at Garden City Community College while working for the Finney County Sheriff's Office.

Word of Life Church Associate Pastor Jeff Crist knew Clint Upchurch most of his life and said he was as proud of him "as a man can be. I'm proud to have known him and proud of the service he gave to this community."

"It probably sounds cliché, but he had a huge heart. He just was a darn fine young man. Clint was one of those young men you just wanted to be around," Crist said. "He was a very personable young man, and I'm sure probably the people he served with would tell you the same thing. He was quick with a smile and just a joy to be around."

Faith was a cornerstone of Clint Upchurch's life, and Cindy Upchurch said it's what gives her and her family the strength to carry on.

"The Bible says there is no greater gift you can give than to save your friends. He knew Jesus. He knew the Lord and he's with Jesus now," she said. "The only thing that makes me mad is he's in heaven playing with (his niece) Alyssa, and I'm not. But that's one thing I can be at peace about. I know where he is, and I know I'm going to be with him someday."

Some things the 101st, 1st Battalion, 187th 3rd BCT were doing in Iraq:

Working with Iraqi Soldiers Uncovering Weapons Cache's

BAYJI, Iraq -- Rakkasans from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, and the Iraqi Army uncovered a weapons cache in west Bayji Nov. 28.

Specialist Zachary McCracken and Sgt. Joshua Weiss, HHC 1-187, and two Soldiers from the Iraqi Army found two Soviet made rockets in a graveyard being guarded by Iraqi Security Forces.

Saddam Hussein had a strong influence in the area prior to his capture. The area still harbors many Anti-Iraqi Forces. The graveyard itself holds the tombs of two of Saddam’s cousins. The Rakkasans decided to search the sight based on information
gathered from previous missions in the area.

PATROL IN BAYJI — Sgt. Jose Rivera and his team, with 1st Battalion 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, wait for the signal to enter a house while conducting a foot patrol in Bayji, Iraq, Dec. 10, 2005. U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Andy Dunaway

September 13

Iraqi Citizens' Tips Aid Coalition Forces
MOSUL, Iraq - the 3rd Brigade Combat Team of the 101st Airborne Division detained an Iraqi man and his brother on Sep. 11 for violating Coalition weapons laws, according to U.S. Central Command officials.

A walk-in source said he knew where an individual lived who was hiding a weapons cache. Second Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment immediately sent a quick reaction force to the location of the house. The soldiers confronted the man, asking whether he had any weapons in his house. He responded affirmatively and brought out a rocket-propelled grenade.

Suspicious, the QRF then went into the house and found two RPGs with boosters, 25 rounds of 14 mm anti-aircraft ammunition and six AK-47 magazines.

The 101st Airborne Division encourages local citizens to cooperate with authorities in identifying those who would upset the peace and stability of northern Iraq. In most cases a monetary reward is paid for information that proves accurate.

Please say a prayer for his family. His mom is particularly upset because she missed his email two days before he died.

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