NEWS RELEASES from the United States Department of Defense
No. 309-07 IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 19, 2007
DoD Identifies Army Casualty
The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Sergeant First Class Class Benjamin L. Sebban, 29, of Chattanooga, Tennessee, died March 17, 2007, in Baqubah, Iraq, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his unit. Sebban was assigned to the 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
SOUTH AMBOY NATIVE MOURNED
Family recalls devoted soldier
Courtesy of the Home News Tribune
By JOHN MAJESKI
23 March 2007
SOUTH AMBOY — Benjamin L. Sebban had said he would make the U.S. Army a career if he achieved the E-7 rank.
On March 15, 2007, the man who grew up in the borough picked up a satellite phone overseas and delivered the good news to his mother, Barbara Filik Walsh, of Neshanic Station.
“He made E-7,” Walsh recalled, “and he was just so thrilled.”
Two days later, however, Sergeant First Class Sebban, 29, died in Baquoba, Iraq, from wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his unit.
Family members assembled in City Council chambers Thursday to recall a kind and courageous man smitten with Army life.
“My brother was more than just a brother,” said Daniel Sebban of Franklin Park. “He was a hero and a friend.”
The late soldier was reportedly trying to warn fellow troops when the device exploded, and he then treated the injured before dying.
The former St. Mary's Elementary School student and 1996 graduate of the Middlesex County Vocational-Technical High School system was previously deployed twice to the Republic of Georgia and had served one tour in West Africa. When he heard a senior combat medic was needed in Iraq, family members said, he didn't hesitate to volunteer.
“He was an awesome son,” Walsh said with teary eyes. “He was an awesome combat medic.”
Walsh said there was “something different about Benjamin.” When her son was born in Tunisia, Africa, as a U.S. citizen, Walsh had a dream about Benjamin and “something about Patton and Germany.”
When Benjamin Sebban had joined the military, she said, she found among his belongings a quote from the late general: “Courage is fear holding on a minute longer.”
“I think the military was just meant to be,” said Walsh, whose sons Daniel and David are also members of the armed forces.
Walsh said Benjamin Sebban was forever dedicated to the military.
“He just loved his job,” said Walsh. “He loved his men. . . . When he was leaving, he said his men were “like my children.' ”
Benjamin Sebban joined the Army in 1998, the same year he graduated from Word of Life Bible College in Schroon Lake, New York. He was assigned to the well-known 82nd Airborne Division in January 2006.
Family members, who produced a packet of touching letters from those close to Benjamin Sebban, said they are still struggling to come to grips with the death of “a real hero.”
“I can't believe he's not coming home,” his mother said.
A scholarship fund in honor of the late soldier is being established for those interested in entering the medical field. Details are pending. For more information, write the SFC Benjamin L. Sebban Warrior Fund, P.O. Box 111, South Amboy, New Jersey 08879.
A memorial service for Benjamin Sebban will be held 11 a.m. Wednesday at Christ Church in the city, while his body is scheduled for interment 1 p.m. Thursday at Arlington National Cemetery.
18 March 2008:
The paratroopers came to burial plot 8613 here on Monday, a year to the day from when their friend, Army Sergeant First Class Benjamin L. Sebban of South Amboy, died in Iraq.
Some, like Major Brad Rather and Captain Braden Hestermann, made the five-hour drive up I-95 from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to Arlington National Cemetery. Captain Larry Robinson, wounded by a bomb blast 13 months ago, made the short trip across town from Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
They stood near Sebban's grave for more than three hours. They laughed, fought back tears and told Sebban's mother, Barbara Walsh, and his brothers, Daniel and David, former soldiers themselves, stories about the medic who has been recommended for the Distinguished Service Cross, the nation's second-highest award for valor.
Then the paratroopers walked among the gleaming headstones at Arlington, searching for other familiar names. They didn't have to go far.
“I've got five friends in these three rows right here,” said Hestermann, a Nebraska native and West Point graduate. “Guys I looked up to. Guys I learned from. Guys like Ben, who were an inspiration to me.”
The Iraq war began five years ago today and has long since fallen to the back of the minds of many Americans. A recent survey by the Pew Research Center found only one in four Americans knew roughly how many U.S. service members have died in the war.
Barbara Walsh (left) of Neshanic Station stands at the grave-site of her son, Sergeant First Class Benjamin Sebban, with her friend Lorry Mahoney in Arlington National Cemetery.
The answer is nearly 4,000, including at least 88 with ties to New Jersey.
The numbers are no abstraction for the men who fought alongside Sebban, who was 29 when he died. They were assigned to Charlie Troop of the 5th Squadron of the 73rd Cavalry, a hand-picked group of 300 paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division. Twenty-two of them died, one of the highest casualty rates of any unit in Iraq.
“There's not a day that goes by that I don't think about Ben and those guys,” Rather said.
They were losses the men who came to Arlington took particularly hard because they had gone to Iraq to fight — and to heal the wounded.
Rather, a former infantryman, was the battalion physician's assistant. Robinson, the battalion surgeon. Hestermann was the medical platoon leader. And Sebban was the most sure-handed medic any of them had ever seen.
He'd been born while his mother was serving as a missionary in Africa. He'd taken an early interest in medicine.
After following his mother's wishes that he attend a bible college, Sebban enlisted to become a medic. He rose rapidly through the ranks and volunteered to go to Iraq with the cavalry unit.
“My brother found out another sergeant's wife was having a baby,” Daniel Sebban said. “He volunteered to take his place so that man could see his child born.”
Sebban made fast friends with the medical team from the cavalry unit. He let nervous young medics practice inserting IVs in his arm. He took Robinson, the battalion surgeon, under his wing, coaching the doctor just out of medical school to become a crack shot on the rifle range. He was forever playing practical jokes on Rather, once slipping a smelly salami into his duffel bag.
Rather saw Sebban the morning he died. Sebban had good news. He'd won promotion to Sergeant First Class, two away from the highest enlisted rank.
“He was so excited. All of us were so happy for him,” Rather said. “It meant he was going to make a career out of it.”
Personnel at a memorial for Sergeant Sebban, who had shouted to alert fellow soldiers of the truck bomb rather than taking cover himself
Colonel Sutherland and Command Sergeant Major Donald Felt honored Sergeant Sebban. Laying his hands on the remains of dead soldiers before they are flown out of Iraq is a crucial part of saying goodbye, Colonel Sutherland said, a way to tell friends and families he was with them.
Soldiers grieved together after the memorial service for Sergeant Sebban. In the military, “cultural norms, if you will, checkmate a lot of guys from healthy grieving,” said Major Fenton. “One of the jobs I have is to give them permission to do that.”
May 24, 2008
President's Radio Address
President George W. Bush
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. This Memorial Day weekend, kids will be out of school, moms and dads will be firing up the grill, and families across our country will mark the unofficial beginning of summer. But as we do, we should all remember the true purpose of this holiday — to honor the sacrifices that make our freedom possible.
On Monday, I will commemorate Memorial Day by visiting Arlington National Cemetery, where I will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns. The tomb is the final resting place of three brave American soldiers who lost their lives in combat. The names of these veterans of World War I, World War II, and the Korean War are known only to God. But their valor is known to us all.
Throughout American history, this valor has preserved our way of life and our sacred freedoms. It was this valor that won our independence. It was this valor that removed the stain of slavery from our Nation. And it was this valor that defeated the great totalitarian threats of the last century.
Today, the men and women of our military are facing a new totalitarian threat to our freedom. In Iraq, Afghanistan, and other fronts around the world, they continue the proud legacy of those who came before them. They bear their responsibilities with quiet dignity and honor. And some have made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of their country.
One such hero was Sergeant First Class Benjamin Sebban of the Army's 82nd Airborne Division. As the senior medic in his squadron, Ben made sacrifice a way of life. When younger medics were learning how to insert IVs, he would offer his own arm for practice. And when the time came, Ben did not hesitate to offer his fellow soldiers far more.
On March 17, 2007, in Iraq's Diyala province, Ben saw a truck filled with explosives racing toward his team of paratroopers. He ran into the open to warn them, exposing himself to the blast. Ben received severe wounds, but this good medic never bothered to check his own injuries. Instead, he devoted his final moments on this earth to treating others. Earlier this week, in a ceremony at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, I had the honor of presenting Sergeant Sebban's mom with the Silver Star that he earned.
No words are adequate to console those who have lost a loved one serving our Nation. We can only offer our prayers and join in their grief. We grieve for the mother who hears the sound of her child's 21-gun salute. We grieve for the husband or wife who receives a folded flag. We grieve for a young son or daughter who only knows dad from a photograph.
One holiday is not enough to commemorate all of the sacrifices that have been made by America's men and women in uniform. No group has ever done more to defend liberty than the men and women of the United States Armed Forces. Their bravery has done more than simply win battles. It has done more than win wars. It has secured a way of life for our entire country. These heroes and their families should be in our thoughts and prayers on a daily basis, and they should receive our loving thanks at every possible opportunity.
This Memorial Day, I ask all Americans to honor the sacrifices of those who have served you and our country. One way to do so is by joining in a moment of remembrance that will be marked across our country at 3:00 p.m. local time. At that moment, Major League Baseball games will pause, the National Memorial Day parade will halt, Amtrak trains will blow their whistles, and buglers in military cemeteries will play Taps. You can participate by placing a flag at a veteran's grave, taking your family to the battlefields where freedom was defended, or saying a silent prayer for all the Americans who were delivered out of the agony of war to meet their Creator. Their bravery has preserved the country we love so dearly.
Thank you for listening.
SEBBAN, BENJAMIN L
- SFC US ARMY
- DATE OF BIRTH: 07/14/1977
- DATE OF DEATH: 03/17/2007
- BURIED AT: SECTION 60 SITE 8613
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
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Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard