Charles H. Buehring – Lieutenant Colonel, United States Army

No. 789-03
Oct 27, 2003

DoD Identifies Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Lieutenant Colonel Charles H. Buehring, 40, of Fayetteville, North Carolina, was killed on October 26, 2003, in Baghdad, Iraq.  Buehring was fatally injured during a rocket-propelled grenade attack on the Al-Rasheed Hotel.

Buehring was assigned to Army Central Command Headquarters (Forward), Fort McPherson, Georgia.

Winter Springs officer killed in rocket attack buried


Many of the chapters of Army Lieutenant Colonel Charles H. Buehring’s too-short life were represented Monday at his grave site at Arlington National Cemetery.

Youngsters in Boy Scout uniforms were there, a tribute to his devotion to Scouting. A bagpiper in a gray kilt from his alma mater, The Citadel, the prestigious military college, played a mournful “Amazing Grace.”

Buehring’s wife, Alicia, and sons Nick, 12, and Drew, 9, sat in front of the coffin, the boys dressed in navy blazers and khaki pants. They live in Winter Springs, in the house where Buehring grew up.

Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, an architect of the war in Iraq, stood at the family’s side during the ceremony. Wolfowitz was visiting Iraq on October 26, 2003, when a rocket slammed into the Al-Rashid Hotel, killing Buehring. Wolfowitz, who was uninjured, was staying one floor above the 11th floor, where Buehring was hit during the 6 a.m. attack.

Before Buehring’s, Wolfowitz had not attended any funerals for Iraqi war deaths. So far, about 419 U.S. soldiers have died during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

At Arlington, mourners stood behind and to the side of the grave site in an area of the cemetery reserved for victims of the Iraq war. They stood on land that could yet hold more casualties from a difficult war. More soldiers have died since the combat phase ended May 1 than were killed in gaining control of Iraq — a human testament to the treacherous work of securing the country and getting new police, infrastructure and government started.

Buehring’s task was providing daily military intelligence briefings to L. Paul Bremer, the top U.S. civilian official in Iraq.

One of the highest-ranking officers killed so far in Iraq, Buehring was trained in special operations and psychological operations. Acting Army Secretary Les Brownlee was among about 200 mourners.

A Pentagon biography said Buehring, whose friends called him “Chad,” sought out the most demanding Army assignments:

“His uncanny drive, intense mission focus, superb leadership candor, and his unique ability to care for the needs of his soldiers were paramount at all times.”

Buehring, 40, recently had been assigned to the Army Central Command Headquarters in Fort McPherson, Georgia. He had served 18 years as a commissioned officer, much of it at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

The U.S. Army’s 3rd Infantry Division honor guard, known as the Old Guard, carried his casket from a white hearse. They marched in precise synchronized steps to the grave site, where a green carpet covered the freshly dug earth.

And with a precision repeated through generations of war at Arlington, they later folded the flag atop the coffin and gave it to Alicia Buehring. His family also was given the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.

On a crisp, clear day, a firing party fired three shots into the blue sky in unison. And then a lone bugler, set amid the long rows of white headstones, sounded taps.

A Sea of Uniforms and Tears

At Arlington, JAG Officer and Military Strategist Are Praised for Dedication
Courtesy of the Washington Post
Tuesday, November 18, 2003

One of the highest-ranking casualties of the Iraq war, Lieutenant Colonel Charles H. “Chad” Buehring, was buried at Arlington National Cemetery yesterday, in a somber conclusion to the October 26, 2003, rocket attack on the al-Rashid Hotel in Baghdad.

Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz, who had been staying at the hotel at the time of the attack, attended the ceremony.

About two hours later, Chief Warrant Officer Sharon T. Swartworth, a high-ranking official from the Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps, also was laid to rest, becoming the 38th casualty of the Iraq war to be buried at Arlington. The Black Hawk helicopter in which she had been a passenger was shot down November 7, 2003, near Tikrit.

Hundreds of mourners attended the ceremonies.

Buehring, 40, of Winter Springs, Florida, had been serving as a special adviser to the top U.S. civilian administrator for Iraq, L. Paul Bremer. He was married and the father of two boys, Nick, 12, and Drew, 9.

“He was one of our best and brightest unconventional strategists,” Lieutenant Colonel James “Bo” Merchant, Buehring’s commanding officer and Citadel classmate, said in an interview last week. “He fully believed in what we were doing in Iraq. He felt that the harder he worked, the sooner life would be better for the Iraqi people.”

Buehring pursued the military’s physical and intellectual challenges, working in Special Forces and psychological operations, Merchant said. In addition to his service in Iraq, he had experience in Bosnia and in Somalia as “an A-team leader.”

In Iraq, Buehring worked to prevent the destruction of oil fields in the south. He also worked with the Iraqi media to publicize the coalition’s efforts to improve the quality of life in Iraq, Merchant said.

“He was the epitome of the Special Forces warrior,” Merchant said. “The complete package.”

Buehring, a longtime resident of Fayetteville, North Carolina, had recently moved with his family to his boyhood home in Winter Springs. Memorial services have been held in both communities.

Friends noted that in addition to his military duties, he was dedicated to the Boy Scouts and his church. His pastor in Fayetteville, the Rev. Ben West, remembered him in church typically sporting a Looney Tunes tie and wrapping an arm around his wife.

“His job would often take him away,” West said in an interview. “I’m not sure where. Down here, you learn not to ask.”

Former classmates and teachers remembered a lanky cross-country runner with high ambitions. “He loved his country and always wanted to save the world from oppression,” said Carol Denicole, Buehring’s math teacher at Trinity Preparatory School in the Orlando area. “His personal motto was, ‘The sky’s the limit.’ ”

Reflecting a shift in policy, cemetery officials kept reporters out of earshot of the graveside services.

At Swartworth’s funeral, a sea of dark green Army uniforms surrounded the graveside and flowed down the cemetery’s long road. Men and women in dark dress Navy uniforms peppered the crowd as well; Swartworth’s husband, William, is a Navy Captain stationed in Hawaii. Near him stood the couple’s 8-year-old son, William III. Swartworth was posthumously given the Distinguished Service Medal during the ceremony.

Swartworth, 43, was the JAG Corps’ top warrant officer. She was killed along with Command Sergeant Major Cornell W. Gilmore, the corps’ top enlisted man, while visiting some of the 400 JAG Corps soldiers stationed in Iraq. Four members of the 101st Airborne Division also were killed in the crash.

Swartworth and Gilmore had traveled the world on similar trips with Major General Thomas J. Romig, the judge advocate general, guiding and boosting the morale of the soldiers responsible for administering military justice.

“She loved getting out with soldiers in the field,” Romig said before the ceremony. “It’s mandated by law that we do these visits, but she always wanted to be there.”

Swartworth lived in the Alexandria section of Fairfax County for a decade before her family’s recent move to Hawaii. She was keeping an Arlington apartment so she could continue with her job at the Pentagon. Her father said she planned to retire from the Army soon and rejoin civilian life.

A 26-year veteran of the Army, Swartworth rose steadily through its ranks. She enlisted after high school and later was chosen to become a warrant officer, which put her in a special class of soldiers between enlisted personnel and commissioned officers.

In 1999, she became the corps’ top warrant officer, overseeing the efforts of dozens of legal administrators in offices around the world. Romig said her long career was an inspiration to soldiers, especially young women.

“She was an example of a person who had pulled herself up by her bootstraps and made herself a success,” he said.

Romig said he will keep a picture of Swartworth taken in Baghdad, standing all of 5 feet 2 inches tall, staring up at burly soldier during his reenlistment ceremony.

“She’s standing next to this giant of a guy,” he said. “Sharon’s looking at him, and they’re both just beaming.”

Colleagues stressed Swartworth’s professionalism in modernizing JAG offices around the world. She brought computer automation to far-flung legal offices and helped the corps’ warrant officers join civilian associations for legal administrators.

She pulled JAG administration into the computer age with the same dogged determination that she applied to long-distance running, a favorite hobby, said Jose Robertson, who served with Swartworth for more than a dozen years and now works with the JAG Corps as a civilian.

“She was a soldier. That’s the most important thing,” he said. “This was a skilled administrator, a skilled people person, but most importantly, she was a soldier.”


  • DATE OF BIRTH: 10/06/1963
  • DATE OF DEATH: 10/26/2003

United States Army soldiers carry the casket of Lieutenant Colonel Charles H. Buehring during a Full Honors burial at Arlington National Cemetery, November 17, 2003.
Alicia Buehring, second from right with her son Andrew, 9, far right, watches the coffin containing the remains of her husband, Lieutenant Colonel Charles Buehring during a funeral ceremony Monday, Nov. 17, 2003 in Arlington National Cemetery.
Alicia Buehring, right grieves with her sons Andrew, 9, second from right, and Nicholas, 12, left, and unidentified relatives during the funeral ceremony for her husband, Lieutenant Colonel Charles Buehring Monday, November 17, 2003 in Arlington National Cemetery.
Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz (L) watches the full honors burial ceremony of Lieutenant Colonel Charles H. Buehring, at Arlington National Cemetery, November 17, 2003.
Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, right, consoles Andrew Buehring, 9, during a funeral ceremony for his father, Lieutenant Colonelt Charles Buehring, Monday, November 17, 2003 in Arlington National Cemetery.
Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz hands a U.S. flag to Alicia Buehring during the Full Honors burial of Lieutenant Colonel Charles H. Buehring, at Arlington National Cemetery,November 17, 2003.
A piper from The Citadel plays ‘Amazing Grace’ during Lieutenant Colonel Charles H. Buehring’s Full Honors burial at Arlington National Cemetery, November 17, 2003.

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