U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 848-09
October 29, 2009
DoD Identifies Army Casualties
The Department of Defense announced today the deaths of seven soldiers who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. They died October 27, 2009, in Arghandab Valley, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their vehicle with an improvised explosive device. They were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Lewis, Washington
- Staff Sgt. Luis M. Gonzalez, 27, of South Ozone Park, New York
- Sergeant Fernando Delarosa, 24, of Alamo, Texas
- Sergeant Dale R. Griffin, 29, of Terre Haute, Indiana
- Sergeant Issac B. Jackson, 27, of Plattsburg, Missouri
- Sergeant Patrick O. Williamson, 24, of Broussard, Louisiana
- Specialist Jared D. Stanker, 22, of Evergreen Park, Illinois
- Private First Class Christopher I. Walz, 25, of Vancouver, Washington
Private First Class Ian Walz, a Vancouver man who was thrilled when Barack Obama was elected president, was killed Tuesday along with six other soldiers in an improvised explosive attack in southern Afghanistan.
An eighth American was killed in a separate attack.
Wednesday night, Obama personally offered condolences to Walz' relatives at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. All eight soldiers had been based at Fort Lewis.
Family members said Walz played football at Hudson's Bay High School and had worked for years in the produce section of the WinCo store in Hazel Dell. He graduated from Bay in 2002.
Walz, 25, was part of the 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team of the 2nd Infantry Division out of Fort Lewis.
His aunt, Carla Burns of Vancouver, said Walz was deployed to Afghanistan in July, had come home on leave recently, and had been back to Afghanistan for only about 10 days.
“He was a sweet kid, always had a smile on his face,” Burns said. “He would do anything for anybody to help them.”
She said Walz also graduated from Clark College.
Asked why he joined the Army, Burns said, “I think this was a way to pay for college. He was very excited about going, though.
“He was excited that he got stationed at Fort Lewis so he could be close to home.”
Burns said Walz' mother, Victoria Walz, a nurse, and other relatives were in Delaware to claim remains. Relatives believe Walz' body will be brought by jet to Vancouver's Pearson Field today.
Walz' given name was Christopher, but he went by Ian.
Friends and family members in Vancouver on Wednesday night said Walz was a fun-loving man but also serious, with hopes to study political science at a university, possibly Washington State University Vancouver, when he returned from the fighting.
“He really wanted to be a teacher,” or possibly a police officer, said Madeline DaMore, 22, who said she was his fiancée. “A lot of people cared about him,” she said.
She added: “He wanted to go to school and become something useful. He wanted to make a difference in the world.”
She said Walz often watched CNN and enjoyed reading history.
“He was really excited when Obama was elected president,” DaMore added. “He just really agreed with his views. He always wanted to meet Obama.”
“He had the most wonderful sense of humor,” said a cousin, Kim Goldfinch, who grew up with him in Vancouver. “His laugh was a classic, loud.”
Once when Walz was home on leave, he bought an Army suit for her son, Mason, 6, Goldfinch said.
The boy, she said, “was just excited. He didn't take it off for a good week.”
Goldfinch said she'd spoken with Victoria Walz, who said, “At first, she couldn't cry or anything. She was just really angry.”
Walz had said several times that he wasn't afraid of going to war or dying, DaMore said.
But shortly before Walz left on his last mission, he spoke with a friend, Ayron Nassen, said another friend, Jennifer Myers, 22.
“Ayron said it was the first time he'd ever heard Ian sound scared, about going on this six-day mission,” Myers said.
The attacks Tuesday pushed the American death toll to a record monthly level for the third time in four months, according to the Associated Press.
Both attacks took place in the southern province of Kandahar, said Captain Adam Weece, a spokesman for American forces in the south. The region bordering the Pakistan frontier is an insurgent stronghold and was the birthplace of the Taliban in the 1990s.
The soldiers were patrolling in armored vehicles when a roadside bomb ripped through one of them, killing seven soldiers and an Afghan civilian, U.S. forces spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Todd Vician said.
The Vancouver family of a U.S. Army soldier killed in Afghanistan was among those gathered to greet 18 returning American bodies and meet with President Barack Obama at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, early Thursday.
Private First Class Christopher “Ian” Walz was one of a record number of Americans killed in action in Afghanistan this month. His family, including mother Victoria Walz, aunt Donna Walz and ex-wife, Katrina Walz, traveled to the East Coast Wednesday for the ceremonial transfer of the body.
President Barack Obama flew by military helicopter to Dover unexpectedly Wednesday night to witness the return of the fallen soldiers. Obama then met with relatives, including Walz's family, at a nearby chapel.
Donna Walz said the President “was genuine, very genuine.” Exhausted after two sleepless nights in a row, she described the ceremony and meeting as “a blur.”
“It was surreal,” said Katrina Walz, who divorced from Walz in June of this year. She was listed among his next of kin and said she remained close.
“He would have been really proud,” Katrina Walz said. “He really liked Obama.”
Walz graduated from Hudson's Bay High School in 2002 and earned an associate degree from Clark College. He wanted to become a history teacher or police officer after leaving the army, his family said.
In Vancouver, Walz's fiancee Madeline Damore fought back tears as family and friends passed around photos and talked about Walz's kind way with children, his support of Obama and his contagious sense of humor.
“His laugh was classic — loud, obnoxious,” said cousin, Kim Goldfinch. “He made everyone else laugh in the room.”
Damore said she and Walz met while working at a WinCo grocery store in Hazel Dell. He proposed to her on New Year's Eve, after a lover's spat, she said.
Goldfinch shared a printout of an “about me” note that Walz had posted to his MySpace page, detailing why he decided to enlist.
“A lot of people ask why I joined the ARMY. I tell them that I feel it's important to serve my country, plus my 21,000 bonus and 40,000 for school doesn't hurt either, lol” Walz wrote.
He said he hoped to finish a degree in political science, travel the world, then start a career in teaching.
Last Wednesday, Walz told friends and family that he was going on a six-day mission, and that he would call when he returned to base.
According to the Department of Defense, Walz was one of seven U.S. soldiers who died after their armored vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan's Arghandab Valley near Kandahar province.
The soldiers were part of the 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, based in Fort Lewis, a fort spokesman confirmed.
Army Private First Class Christopher I. Walz was killed in action on October 27, 2009.
WALZ, CHRISTOPHER IAN
PFC US ARMY
- DATE OF BIRTH: 06/03/1984
- DATE OF DEATH: 10/27/2009
- BURIED AT: SECTION 8-MM ROW 1 SITE 1
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