“Dagger” Brigade holds memorial services for fallen “First Lightning” Battalion Soldiers
BAGHDAD—Members of the honor detail with Battery B, 1st “First Lightning” Battalion, 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, United States Division – Center prepare to fire a volley during a memorial service held June 9, 2011 at Joint Security Station Loyalty, Iraq for five fallen Soldiers from the unit. Spc. Emilio J. Campo Jr., Spc. Robert P. Hartwick, Spc. Michael B. Cook Jr., Spc. Christopher B. Fishbeck, and Pfc. Michael C. Olivieri died June 6, and Spc. Marcos A. Cintron died June 16 from wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their unit with indirect fire. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Daniel Stoutamire, 2nd AAB, 1st Inf. Div., USD-C)
Story by: Sgt. Daniel Stoutamire
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BAGHDAD—Soldiers and leaders from around the 2nd "Dagger" Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, United States Division – Center and United States Forces – Iraq, along with representatives from the U.S. Department of State, attended memorial services June 9 and June 20 at Joint Security Station Loyalty, Iraq, to celebrate the lives and mourn the passing of six fallen Dagger Brigade Soldiers.
Spcs. Emilio J. Campo Jr., 20, Robert P. Hartwick, 20, Michael B. Cook Jr., 27, Christopher B. Fishbeck, 24, and Pfc. Michael C. Olivieri, 26, died June 6 of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their unit with indirect fire.
Spc. Marcos A. Cintron, 32, died June 16 at a medical facility in Boston of wounds suffered in those attacks. His memorial was held June 20.
All six Soldiers were assigned to the 1st "First Lightning" Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd AAB, 1st Inf. Div., USD-C.
"As for most of you here, the thought of each of our heroes departing our formation has been both extremely difficult and challenging," said Lt. Col. Andrew Gainey, commander of 1st Bn., 7th FA Regt. "Challenging and difficult because these were exceptional American Soldiers who represented the Army values that make this the most respected organization in America. They were husbands, they were fathers, brothers, sons, and friends, but most of all, our Soldiers and our heroes."
Though Campo, a Madelia, Minn., native, and Hartwick, a Rockbridge, Ohio, native, served together as medics in Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 1st Bn., 7th FA Regt., their personalities were quite different.
"Spc. Hartwick was bold and outspoken and would never back down from a challenge; he was very outgoing, adventurous and made friends easily," said Spc. Derek Wolske, a medic with 1st Bn., 7th FA Regt. and a Waukesha, Wis., native. "Campo, on the other hand, was soft-spoken, organized, athletic and very confident in his approach to life."
Wolske said Hartwick and Campo, who were roommates, did have something in common, however.
"They were both great friends with each other and all of us," he said. "They were honored to serve as medics and care for all of you…Spc. Hartwick and Spc. Campo, it was our honor to serve with both of you."
Cook, a Middletown, Ohio, native, served as an automated field artillery tactical data system specialist with Battery B, 1st Bn., 7th FA Regt. As one of the older Soldiers in his unit, he served as a kind of mentor to the younger Soldiers.
"Spc. Cook was an excellent battle buddy," said Pfc. Marquis Davis, also with Battery B and an Enterprise, Ala., native. "His ability to teach, listen and work with other Soldiers was outstanding and I was impressed and inspired to become a better Soldier every day."
Cook had the tools of his trade down pat, Davis said.
"Cook was a genius and he knew the system like clockwork, and whatever he could do to become better he would do it."
Fishbeck, a Victorville, Calif., native, served in HHB, 1st Bn., 7th FA Regt., in the same Military Occupational Specialty as Cook. Full of enthusiasm and determination, Fishbeck was remembered for his unique drive.
"Fishbeck wasn't the tallest guy, and we have air ducts that are ten-and-a-half feet high," said Spc. Shadrach Brock, also of HHB and a Fort Payne, Ala., native. "We all managed to get a finger on it except Fishbeck. Well, he wasn't having any of it, so even though the rest of us were howling and laughing, Fishbeck jumped for at least an hour—bound and determined to touch that air duct until finally we told him that he touched it just so he would stop."
Fishbeck was recently married to his high school sweetheart, Stephanie Kidder. The couple wed while Fishbeck was on leave.
"The entire time I worked with him out here, he talked about her," Brock said. "Every day he had to tell me something about the conversation they had the night before, and how much he loved her."
Olivieri, a Chicago native, was, like Cook and Fishbeck, an automated field artillery tactical data system specialist, though he served as an intelligence analyst during this deployment. He was well-suited for the job.
"He made certain that I was kept informed of every matter and the care and thoroughness with which he mastered the immense daily flow of information made a profound mark," said Capt. Joshua Krause, intelligence officer with HHB, 1st Bn., 7th FA Regt. and a South Dakota native. "Of all the intelligence sections that I have been a part of, he is and will remain one of the top performers that I am humbled to have served and served with."
Cintron, a cannon crew member with Battery B and an Orlando, Fla., native, left a lucrative career with a major airline to enlist in the Army, even though he had a degree and could have entered the officer corps.
When asked about why he would do such a thing, Cintron would always say, "I'm doing this for my father. He asked me to do this for the honor of our family," said Spc. Richard Zacarias, also of Battery B and a Las Vegas native.
Cintron was a devoted family man, who was proud of his wife and family, through whom his legacy will endure, Zacarias said.
"In the end, even though our brother-in-arms and one of my best friends is no longer here, his smile, his self-respect, love and commitment to his family and brethren around him will never be lost," he said. "His legacy continues through his family and the stories and memories we shared with him."
Gainey urged his battalion to band together in spite of the tragic recent events.
"Though our hearts are heavy, we will not bow to the threats that exist outside this formation. We must gain strength from the sacrifices made by our heroes, and galvanize as a unit and continue to defend the very freedom our brothers died protecting."