Christopher M. Hake
Staff Sergeant, United States Army
Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 243-08
DoD Identifies Army Casualties
The Department of Defense announced today the death of four soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died March 24, 2008, in Baghdad, Iraq, from wounds suffered when their vehicle encountered an improvised explosive on March 23. They were assigned to the 4th Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Georgia.
Private George Delgado, 21, of Palmdale, California
Staff Sergeant Christopher M. Hake, 26, of Enid, Oklahoma
Private First Class Andrew J. Habsieger, 22, of Festus, Missouri
Specialist Jesse A. Rubio Hernandez, 24, of Mission, Texas
For more information media may contact the
Fort Stewart public affairs office at (912) 767-2479.
Staff Sergeant Christopher M. Hake began his Army career in a ceremonial unit, serving as an escort during funerals at Arlington National Cemetery and marching in President Bush's 2001 inauguration parade.
But he wanted to do his part in Iraq. So Hake, of Enid, Oklahoma, transferred in 2004 to the 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart in southern Georgia, deployed to Iraq in 2005 and returned for a second combat tour late last year.
"This deployment, he told me, 'You couldn't pay me to come home early,'" said Peter Hake, the soldier's father. "He was a squad leader and loved his guys that worked under him. He said they would die for each other, and they did."
Hake, 26, and three Fort Stewart soldiers in
his squad died Monday from wounds suffered when a roadside bomb exploded
into their Bradley armored vehicle the day before. The Army announced the
four deaths Sunday, pushing the military's count of U.S. service members
killed in Iraq to 4,000, and released their identities Thursday.
I want to tell you about number 4,000, because he has a name and he had a wonderful life to come.
His name is Christopher M. Hake. He was a U.S. Army Staff Sargent. More importantly, he was a husband to wife Kelli and a father to 1-year-old son, Gage.
He was from Enid, Oklahoma -- and he was 26 years old.
We can't say for sure that Hake was number 4,000 of our Iraq dead because Private George Delgado, 21, of Palmdale, California, Private First Class Andrew J. Habsieger, 22, of Festus, Missouri, and Specialist Jose A. Rubio Hernandez, 24, of Mission, Texas all died in a horrible blast earlier this week when, according to the Defense Department, "their vehicle encountered an improvised explosive" in Baghdad.
But as a Veteran myself, I can tell you that these men were brothers until the end and that, because more early news and details are available on Chris Hake than his buddies, we can tell his story and hope all Americans understand the identical preciousness of every life we have lost in Iraq.
Hake, a graduate of the Oklahoma Bible Academy (OBA), who lived with his wife and infant son near Fort Stewart, Georgia, was described by grieving family members as a man devoted to his belief that he was helping the Iraqi people and, more than anything, the men with whom he served.
"He was 100 percent sure we should be there, and he talked of the love of the Iraqi people for him and his guys," said his father, Peter Hake, who also said his son loved the men in his command. "He said they would die for each other, and they did,"
And he had made a quick decision to sign up. The boy described by his father as an "energetic, rambunctious kid" simply went to the military recruiter's office after he graduated from high school and returned home having enlisted in the Army.
"He got out of high school and didn't know what to do. I mentioned the service, and I was thinking the Air Force," Pete Hake said. "He went down to see his recruiter that day and came home and told me he had joined the Army."
The 26-year-old, who was on his second combat deployment to Iraq, was remembered by his former high school principal as respectful and quiet.
"We saw him go on after graduation in 2000 to show his true heart as a kid who is very devoted. He still had strong ties here at OBA," said Principal Mark Shuck of the young man who graduated in 2000. "He was an all-American kid. He was 'yes sir,' 'no sir' and very respectful. I would use him as an example to other kids as they grow up. He always fit that mode very well."
"He was quietly compassionate. He generally cared for people."
Chris Hake had been married for just under three years and his father said going on the second tour of duty in Iraq was an enormously difficult choice -- made all the more painful by having to leave his baby son.
"It literally tore his heart out to walk out on that boy," said Peter Hake. "It made him wish he could be done with the war."
As do the vast majority of Americans.
And near or on number 4,000, we should remember the face of Christopher M. Hake, who died at only 26 years old.
The soldier's MySpace page is still up and still holds pictures of him, his young wife and his beautiful baby boy. And his last post, from January 9, 2008, is a haunting reminder of an American full of hope, trying to do the right thing but who ultimately only wanted to return home to his family.
"I will be going on mid-tour leave in July. Kelli, Gage and I are going to spend that time in Georgia by ourselves," wrote Hake in explaining to his family back home in Oklahoma. "This will be the first time in 8 years I haven't gone to OK for vacation. But our priorities have changed drastically since we had our son."
"But when I do come home for good in '09, we
will see everyone. Continue to keep our little family in your prayers.
We will keep all of you in ours."
The funeral for Army Staff Sergeant Chris Hake, who was killed Sunday in Iraq, will be 3:30 p.m. Wednesday at Oklahoma Bible Academy.
Burial will be April 8, 2008, in Arlington National Cemetery.
Garvie Schmidt, pastor of Enid Mennonite Brethren Church, will conduct the ceremony, said Hake’s father, Pete.
Hake, 26, was one of four U.S. soldiers killed as they patrolled streets in southern Baghdad. They were assigned to 4th Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, of Fort Stewart, Georgia.
Hake, an Enid native, is a 2000 graduate of OBA. He was serving his second tour of duty in Iraq. He and wife, Kelli, have a year-old son, Gage.
Pete Hake said his son’s body is expected to arrive in Oklahoma Sunday or Monday. Hake’s body will have a full military escort when it is returned to Enid.
April 01, 2008:
Hake’s family amazed by, thankful for the city’s support
Kelli Hake remembers her husband, Chris, rolling around on the floor playing with their son, Gage. She also remembers how considerate he was to call her from Iraq, sometimes three or four times a day.
“He was thoughtful, and he was the funniest guy in the world,” she said, of the man she first met through family.
Now, she and Gage will have to go on without husband and father. Army Staff Sergeant Chris Hake, 26, was killed March 23, 2008, in southern Baghdad when his vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb. Three other soldiers also died in the attack.
His funeral will be 3:30 p.m. today at Oklahoma Bi-ble Academy. Burial will be 3 p.m. Tuesday in Arlington National Cemetery.
“He wanted to make sure Gage was roughhoused and played with. I have videos of him rolling around and playing on the ground,” she said.
Kelli will miss having her husband there as Gage grows up. Gage, who was born October 14, 2006, doesn’t understand now. He doesn’t understand the concept of mommy and daddy, she said, but he is happy to have family members around to play with. He is a good boy.
“He sleeps well, acts good. He’s just a great kid,” she said.
She now lives near Fort Stewart, Georgia, where Chris was stationed as a member of the 3rd Infantry Division before returning to Iraq for his second tour. Kelli, a Stillwater native, said she probably will move back to Oklahoma after she sells their house.
“I had no idea the type of support we have received,” she said. “Going down (Monday), and all the flags and everyone standing out there ... It’s something you would never dream about. It was amazing how many people were out there, I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it myself.”
Hake’s body was returned to Enid Monday, and residents turned out in large numbers, lining the route from Enid Woodring Regional Airport to Ladusau-Evans Funeral Home.
“I just want to say thank you to everyone who has done so much for us. Things people brought to the house, food, everything people have done,” she said.
Chris’ father, Pete, is tired, but said he has been in good spirits, although Monday was emotional.
“I’m a little tired, but I’m OK,” he said.
Seeing his son’s casket arrive at Woodring and touching it made everything real. Pete Hake said the moment was pretty emotional for everyone.
“We were doing pretty good the week before. (Monday) was hard, the casket made it all real,” he said.
“We’re just overwhelmed by the support from the town of Enid and people who keep bringing food over and money. It just never stops,” he said. “We’re about to buy another refrigerator to keep the food in.”
He talked with Army representatives Monday who said they were surprised at the turnout and support they saw along the route from the airport to the funeral home.
“You know 90 percent of them don’t know Chris. They’re just turning out because they believe in our soldiers,” Pete said. “When you see all this it just soaks us up. It makes me more proud of Chris and more appreciative of the town — old guys saluting — it makes you real appreciative of the people of Enid.”
Around the Square people were lined up shoulder-to-shoulder for several blocks. Pete said he hoped there would be a lot of people, but he never imagined the turnout.
“When the plane rolled up yesterday, everyone broke down. Having him here and touching the casket ... The ride to town was about the same with all the people out,” he said. “You can’t believe that many people would come out to honor your son and your husband.”
Gage recognizes pictures of his father and occasionally comments. Those moments are the hardest, Pete said.
Chris was supposed to come home for 18 days in July for a mid-tour break, and he wanted to spend time with Kelli and Gage.
Recently, he became interested in building things, and he wanted to get some wood and see what he could build. First, would be a big toy box for Gage. The couple, who have been married three years, had no plans for the end of his deployment.
There are about 20 family members in town, and Pete expects about 70 for the funeral. About 20 will attend the burial at Arlington National Cemetery.
HAKE, CHRISTOPHER M
Posted: 31 March 2008 Updated: 2 April 2008 Updated: 15 April 2008 Updated: 15 June 2008 Updated: 8 July 2011
Photos By M. R. Patterson, 4 July 2011