Christopher P. Petty – Captain, United States Army

NEWS RELEASES from the United States Department of Defense

January 6, 2006

DoD Identifies Army Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of five soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died in An Najaf, Iraq, on January 5, 2006, when an improvised explosive device detonated near their HMMWV during convoy operations. The soldiers were assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 16th Field Artillery, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

            Killed were:

Major William F. Hecker, III, 37, of St. Louis, Misouri
Captain Christopher P. Petty, 33, of Vienna, Virginia
Sergeant First Class Stephen J. White, 39, of Talladega, Alabama
Sergeant Johnny J. Peralez, Jr., 25, of Kingsville, Texas
Private Robbie M. Mariano, 21, of Stockton, California

For further information related to this release, contact Army Public Affairs at (703) 692-2000.

Soldier killed in Iraq was Marshall graduate
By Lee Ann Welch
Courtesy of the The Herald-Dispatch
10 January 2006

In the early hours of Monday, U.S. Army Captain Christopher Petty became one of the 2,209 casualties of Iraqi Freedom since March 19, 2003.

Petty is married to the former Debbie Hunt, daughter of Dr. John Hunt of Huntington and the late Ann Hunt.

He is a 1996 Marshall University graduate, with a degree in criminal justice, and was a member of Alpha Tau Omega fraternity. Petty and his wife married in June 1999 at Trinity Episcopal Church in Huntington.


U.S. Army Captain Christopher Petty poses for a family photo with his wife, Debbie, and two young children.
Petty, a 1996 Marshall University graduate, was killed Monday while serving in Iraq

Along with four others, Petty, 33, died when a roadside bomb detonated near the Humvee they were driving during a convoy from Baghdad to Najaf to see the progress being made on rehabilitating schools.

Others killed in the bombing were Major William F. Hecker III, 37, of St. Louis; Sergeant First Class Stephen J. White, 39, of Talladega, Alabama; Sergeant Johnny J. Peralex Jr., 25, of Kingsville, Texas; and Private Robbie M. Mariano, 21, of Stockton, California.

This was Petty's second tour of duty in Iraq with his unit, and he was in command of a section of the 3-16 FA Battalion.

Hunt said his son-in-law didn't have to go back, but felt a responsibility to his unit and its members.

In a message today to his friends and family, Paul Petty said his son was “in harm's way out of dedication to his comrades and soldiers. There was no question in his mind that he had to go back with his soldiers for the second deployment. He would never expect them to do anything he wouldn't do himself.”

Paul Petty also wrote his son went “despite his frustrations with the Army and a full awareness of what was right and wrong about Iraq.”

Hunt said his son-in-law had a ready smile and willingness to help. Petty became a father for the second time last October and was able to see the child they named Owen before returning to Iraq. The couple has another child, Oliver, born in 2002. The four Pettys were pictured on this year's family Christmas card with Petty holding newborn Owen.

Once Petty's body is returned to the United States, plans are being made for burial in Arlington National Cemetery, which had been his request.

Christopher P. Petty barely squeaked by as a high school student in Virginia, his father said, but he thrived amid the rigors of military culture, rising to the rank of captain and commanding an artillery battalion in Iraq.

“It's just kind of a typical American story where . . . the combination of life and experience in the military turns him completely around to where he's a model officer,” said Paul R. Petty, a retired CIA officer.

Captain Christopher P. Petty was married and had two sons, Owen and Oliver. He was a graduate of James Madison High School in Vienna.


Petty, 33, was killed in Najaf on Thursday along with four other soldiers when an improvised explosive detonated near their Humvee, the Defense Department said. He was three weeks into his second tour of duty in Iraq.

Petty was a father of two — Oliver, 3, and Owen, 3 months — and he and his wife, Deborah, had lived near Fort Hood, Texas, where he was assigned to the 4th Infantry Division.

Because of his father's work, Petty grew up overseas. He was born in Berlin and lived in Austria, Finland and Jamaica. He was a graduate of James Madison High School in Vienna and attended Marshall University in Huntington, W.Va., where he was enrolled in the ROTC program.

He was commissioned in the Army upon graduation. Ed Petty, an artillery officer in World War II, pinned his own Second Lieutenant's bars and crossed cannon artillery insignia on his grandson at the commissioning.

Petty's unit entered Iraq just days after the initial invasion, engaging some of the last Republican Guard elements near Tikrit in the north.

Stationed not far from the Iranian border, his father said, Petty served informally as a civil affairs officer with the responsibility of running local elections and formally as the artillery coordinator for his battalion. Petty devised a clever method, one that he employed daringly, for responding to frequent mortar attacks, his father said. Petty would calculate the mortars' trajectories by examining impact craters and tail fins, then determine from where the rounds had been fired.

“He'd go out where they were impacting, sometimes while they were still coming in,” Petty said.

During that year-long deployment, his battalion suffered only one casualty, his father said. The insurgency has since grown stronger, and Petty was aware that he would return to a more dangerous country, his father said.

Yesterday, he recalled when his son, in middle school, was on a Vienna soccer team with the son of Redskins coach Joe Gibbs.

The soccer coach didn't show up one day. Gibbs stepped in, leading the underdog team to victory. “They trounced these other guys, who were touted to win by huge margins,” Paul Petty said. “Those boys — they were on cloud nine.”

Soldier, Marine From Va. Get Final Salute at Home
Captain and Corporal Killed in Iraq Are Buried at Arlington
By Lila de Tantillo
Courtesy of the Washington Post
Wednesday, January 18, 2006

A dreary gray sky set the scene as two Virginians who were killed in Iraq were laid to rest yesterday at Arlington National Cemetery.

Army Captain Christopher P. Petty, 33, of Vienna and Marine Lance Corporal Kyle W. Brown, 22, of Newport News were the 214th and 215th people killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom to be buried at Arlington.


A caisson bears the body of Army Captain Christopher P. Petty, 33, of Vienna at Arlington Cemetery.

The morning drizzle let up just as the horse-drawn caisson bearing Petty's coffin approached the grave site. About 100 mourners followed the full-honors procession, which included a band and an escort that accompanied the coffin on foot from the Old Post Chapel at Fort Myer.

Petty was among five soldiers killed January 5, 2006, in Najaf when an improvised explosive device detonated near their Humvee.

The band played “America the Beautiful” as the honor guard carefully folded the American flag draping the silver coffin. Brig. Gen. David Anthony Morris presented the flag to Petty's widow, Deborah. The soldier also leaves behind sons Oliver, 3, and Owen, 3 months.

Petty, who was born in Berlin and grew up overseas, graduated from Fairfax County's James Madison High School in 1991 and attended Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia. High school classmate Adam Cox, 32, said his friend was always quick with a warm greeting and a grin.

“There wasn't anyone he didn't get along with,” Cox said. “Every time I saw him in class or walking the hallways, he was always smiling.”

Cox kept in touch with Petty during the challenging years after graduation as their close group of friends juggled work, school and adulthood. Cox recalled the buddies unwinding with cards and listening to music at parties Petty would host at his home at least once a week.

“Chris's door was always open for me whenever I'd be there,” said Cox, who lives in Denver.

Mike Schulz, 24, of Twin Falls, Idaho, served with Petty for three months in Iraq during summer 2003. Schulz, who had just lost a child, said Petty not only comforted him, but was instrumental in helping him come home to his wife then.

Schulz said Petty was generous with the delicious treats his family often sent him. Each time a package of goodies arrived, “he made sure his troops got some of it before he did,” Schulz said. “He was always the last person to dig in.”

Also killed in the blast with Petty were Major William F. Hecker III, 37, of St. Louis; Sergeaqnt First Class Stephen J. White, 39, of Talladega, Alabama; Sergeant Johnny J. Peralez Jr., 25, of Kingsville, Texas; and Private Robbie M. Mariano, 21, of Stockton, California. They were assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 16th Field Artillery, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division based at Fort Hood, Texas.

Later yesterday, the rain held off as dozens of mourners gathered under cloudy skies for Brown's funeral.

Brown, who was shot by a sniper in combat January 7, 2006, near Fallujah, was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force based at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

Gaggles of geese glided above the bare trees as an honor guard from the Marine barracks at Eighth and I streets SE in the District carried Brown's flag-draped wooden coffin forward. Gunnery Sergeant Barry L. Baker knelt before Brown's father, Rodney Bridges, and presented the flag to him. As the ceremony concluded, a bagpiper played “Amazing Grace.”

“He loved being a Marine more than anything,” said aunt Robin Summers, 42. Despite his slender build, he had set his sights on joining the elite branch of the armed forces, she said. Ignoring naysayers, he bulked up and stayed active playing basketball and fishing — though Brown often joked that he fed more fish than he managed to catch.

As a teenager, Brown, who was known for an endearing goofiness, was determined to overcome his adolescent awkwardness. To that end, he consulted his cousin Tyler Richardson, 19, for advice on dressing to impress women. He attended his first high school dance in a tuxedo — complete with tails, a top hat and a cane. For another, he wore a gold suit.

“He was proud he had a date for each occasion,” Summers said.

During his years at Heritage High School in Newport News, Brown took his participation in the Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps especially seriously, said cousin Tammy Richardson, 21, who graduated with him in 2002. “He made sure his uniform was ironed and straight,” she said. “And he made sure he graduated with good enough grades so that he could go into the military.”

Brown headed to boot camp straight out of high school and was proud to make the cut. He did two tours in Iraq and stints in Afghanistan, Japan and Korea. His aunt said one of his most rewarding experiences was returning to Heritage High in his dress blues to talk to ROTC students about the military.

He planned to go into law enforcement, she said.

Because of his service in Iraq, he was “a changed man,” Summers said. “You could look at him and tell the war had affected him tremendously.”

Legislation to rename a post office in Vienna for two local soldiers killed in Iraq was approved Tuesday, September 26, 2006, by the House of Representatives in a bill sponsored by U.S. Rep. Thomas Davis (R-11th).

House Resolution 6102 would rename the post office at 200 Lawyers Road for Capt. Christopher Petty and Maj. William F. Hecker III, both of whom were killed in Iraq in January 2006.

With the renaming of the post office on Lawyers Road, four other local post offices have been named after notable Fairfax County residents or officials:

Reston, 11110 Sunset Hills Road, May 2005, Martha Pennino, one of the longest-serving members of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, spending 24 years on the board; served three terms on the Vienna Town Council.

West Springfield, 6200 Rolling Road, October 2005, U.S. Army Captain Mark N. Stubenhofer, graduate of West Springfield High School, killed in action in Iraq on December 7, 2004.

Annandale, 4270 John Marr Drive, May 2001, Stan Parris, Republican U.S. congressman representing 8th District, 1973-75, 1981-91; recipient of Distinguished Flying Cross.

Merrifield, 8409 Lee Highway, May 2000, Joel T. Broyhill, served Congress for 22 years as first representative of the 10th District; World War II veteran, fought in the Battle of the Bulge and escaped German POW camp.

Both U.S. Army soldiers, Petty, 33, was a 1991 graduate of James Madison High School.

Hecker, 37, graduated from McLean High School in 1987.

The two soldiers were killed January 5, 2006, when a roadside bomb detonated near the Humvee they were driving in a convoy from Baghdad to Najaf to see the progress made on rehabilitating schools there, according to a September 21, 2006,  press release from the office of Congressman Davis.

Hecker, a literature buff who taught English at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, comes from a military family. His father, Colonel William F. Hecker Jr., served two tours in Vietnam with the Army, and his brother, John Hecker, is in the Marine Corps stationed in Japan.

Hecker is survived by his wife, Richelle, and children Alexandra, Victoria, Cordelia and William. He is buried at West Point.

Petty also hails from a military family. His grandfather, Ed Petty, served as an artillery officer in World War II. Petty was born in Berlin and lived in Austria, Finland and Jamaica before moving to Virginia. After graduating from Madison, he attended Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia, where he participated in ROTC and was commissioned into the Army.

He is survived by his wife, Deborah, and sons Owen and Oliver. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Congressman Davis' bill now goes to the U.S. Senate for consideration.

Once the law is passed, said Deborah Yackley of the USPS Capital Metro Public Affairs Center, a ceremony will be planned at the post office with a plaque permanently placed inside the postal facility.

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