Clinton Robert Upchurch
Specialist, United States Army
No. 024-06 IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 10, 2006
Media Contact: Army Public Affairs - (703) 692-2000 Public/Industry(703)428-0711
DoD Identifies Army Casualty
The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Specialist Clinton R. Upchurch, 31, of Garden City, Kansas, died in Samarra, Iraq, on January 7, 2006, during patrol operations when an improvised explosive device detonated near his HMMWV and enemy forces attacked using small arms fire. Upchurch was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
For further information related to this release, contact Army Public Affairs at (703) 692-2000.
Support from across the community is helping a Garden City family deal with the death of Clint Upchurch, a U.S. Army soldier killed last Saturday in an attack on his Humvee in Iraq.
"We have lots of support of family and friends, and that's how we're making it - one day at a time," Cynthia Upchurch, the man's mother, said Tuesday.
A little comfort from on high, she adds, also is assisting.
"We all know the Lord, and he knew Jesus," the woman said.
Clint Upchurch, 31, died after an improvised explosive device, or IED, detonated near his Humvee while he was patrolling in Samarra, a city 60 miles north of Baghdad.
The man, a fourth-generation Garden City resident, graduated from Garden City High School in 1993 and served as jailer, then deputy, in the Finney County Sheriff's Department, from January 1997 to June 2004.
When Saturday's blast occurred, Upchurch, who was posthumously promoted from private first class to specialist, was serving as gunner in a Humvee, helping conduct some sort of military assessment, according to Maj. Tom Bryant, a U.S. Army spokesman.
Enemy forces followed with a small arms attack, according to public affairs officials at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, the base of Upchurch's Army division.
Despite his mother's reservations, Upchurch, who came from a line of military vets, wanted to serve in the military since he was a teen. Finally, he enlisted in August of 2004, making it to Iraq just three months ago.
"He felt that was his duty, and he loved his country," said Cynthia Upchurch, who works in Finney County's computer department. "He just wanted to make a difference in the world, to make it better and safer for all of us."
His death leaves an empty spot for those who loved him.
"He loved his family. He was a good brother, he was a good son," Cynthia Upchurch said.
A boss in the sheriff's department remembers his dedication. "You had no question about whether he wanted to be here or not," Undersheriff John Andrews said.
Bryant says Upchurch's sense of duty will give strength to his cohorts still in Iraq.
"Specialist Upchurch personified selfless service, and his courage will continue to serve as inspiration," Bryant wrote in an e-mail response from Iraq.
Upchurch leaves behind wife Kari; two stepsons, Earl and Ryan Stewart; and his parents, Gregory and Cynthia Upchurch, among others.
His remains will be buried in Arlington National
Cemetery in Virginia, Cynthia Upchurch said. A ceremony will be at Fort
Campbell, and some sort of memorial also is in the works for Garden City,
though a date hasn't been set.
Cindy Upchurch had just put the care package
full of cookies and candy in the mail when she heard the terrible news.
The Army announced Tuesday that Specialist Clinton R. Upchurch, 31, of Garden City, was killed Saturday near the predominantly Sunni Arab town of Samarra, about 60 miles north of Baghdad. He was the gunner on one of three Humvees escorting higher-ranked officials.
He is the 22nd Kansan to die in the war in Iraq.
The Army representatives “said he died a hero, that he saved his guys,” Cindy Upchurch said. “Knowing Clint, I’m not surprised he died defending them. He did his mission. That’s just the kind of guy he was.”
It was the end of her son’s lifelong dream, Upchurch said. She had tried to talk him out of the service but could not. His father served in Vietnam; his grandfather and great-grandfather were veterans, too.
“It’s been something he and I have been fighting about since he was 17,” she said. “But I knew he would enlist, and I knew he was doing something he wanted to do. He loved the service and defending his country.”
The soldier was killed when a roadside bomb detonated near his Humvee, and enemy forces fired on him. He had joined the Army in August 2004 and was assigned to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, in March 2005. Before that, he worked for the Finney County sheriff’s office.
He will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery
outside Washington, and there will be memorial services at Fort Campbell
and in Garden City.
Cindy Upchurch had just put the care package full of cookies and candy in the mail when she heard the terrible news -- her soldier son would never be able to open it.
The Army announced Tuesday that Specialist Clinton R. Upchurch, 31, of Garden City, was killed Saturday near the predominantly Sunni Arab town of Samarra, about 60 miles north of Baghdad. He was the gunner on one of three Humvees that were escorting higher-ranked officials.
He is the 22nd Kansan to die in the war in Iraq.
"(The Army representatives) said he died a hero, that he saved his guys," Cindy Upchurch said. "Knowing Clint, I'm not surprised he died defending them. He did his mission. That's just the kind of guy he was."
It was the end, Upchurch said, of her son's lifelong dream. She had tried to talk him out of the service but couldn't, maybe because it was in his blood. His father served in Vietnam; his grandfather and great-grandfather were veterans too.
"It's been something he and I have been fighting about since he was 17," she said. "But I knew he would enlist and I knew he was doing something he wanted to do. He loved the service and defending his country."
The soldier was killed when a roadside bomb detonated near his Humvee and enemy forces fired on him. He had joined the Army in August 2004 and was assigned to Fort Campbell, Ky., in March 2005. Before that, he worked for the Finney County Sheriff's Office.
"As a mom, you know there's danger involved. But to me, he wasn't in any more danger over there than here," Upchurch said.
Now, Upchurch waits for the body to arrive home and for her youngest son -- husband of Kari, stepfather and foster father, high school football player, Christian and fourth-generation Garden City resident -- to be laid to rest.
He will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C., and there will be memorial services at Fort Campbell and in Garden City.
Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius urged the state to pray for Upchurch's family and friends.
"He has made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country and he will not be forgotten," she said.
Congressman Jerry Moran, R-Kan., whose 1st District includes Garden City, praised Upchurch for his sacrifice for his country.
The slain soldier had sent his mother an e-mail at 12:36 p.m. Friday.
"Hi. I love you. Are you there?" he asked.
She wasn't. She had gone to lunch. And she
would never hear from him again.
A local memorial next weekend will honor a Garden City soldier killed last week in Iraq but uninvited guests will be there to protest.
Cindy Upchurch, the mother of Specialist Clint Upchurch, said Westboro Church members' plan to protest at her son's service will be "disrespecting me as a person and as a Christian and disrespecting my son and his sacrifice for this country."
The 10 a.m. Jan. 21 service at Word of Life Church, 3004 North Third St., will be the second of three services to honor Upchurch, who was killed January 7, 2006, by small-arms fire after a bomb exploded near a convoy he was leading north of Baghdad.
He will be buried Wednesday at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. A third memorial service at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, where he was based before being deployed to Iraq, is scheduled for February 8, 2006.
Cindy Upchurch said she hasn't paid much attention to the Topeka-based Westboro Church and its leader Fred Phelps' efforts to protest at funerals for U.S. soldiers killed in action in Iraq.
According to fliers from the church, members say the deaths of American soldiers are punishment from God for the country's acceptance of homosexuality.
"If (Phelps) doesn't like America, he can go somewhere else," Upchurch said.
Westboro Church member Steve Drain said he will be among those of his church protesting at Upchurch's memorial.
"These soldiers are not dying in honor but in shame," Drain said. "This is what happens to a nation that won't obey the voice of God."
He said the church has protested the funerals of about 100 soldiers in an effort to spread its message.
"We are there to inject truth and sanity when all others want to inject patriotism," Drain said. "The nation's moral compass is broken and soldiers will continue to die for it."
But Cindy Upchurch said Phelps and his followers, if they do come to Garden City, will have picked the wrong service to picket.
"I think that he might not like coming here. I don't think he'll get very far here. There's probably going to be 50 or more sheriff's and law enforcement people here," she said.
Clint Upchurch worked for seven years in the Finney County Sheriff's office, working at the jail, on the Drug Enforcement Agency Task Force and ultimately as a deputy patrolman before enlisting in the army in August 2004.
He was a member of the Third Special Troops Battalion of the Third Brigade Combat Team in the 101st Airborne Division.
"Our family really appreciates all the love
and support and prayers the community has put out for us," Cindy Upchurch
said. "Everybody's just been awesome."
For Soldier and Marine, Common Ground
By Brigid Schulte
Courtesy of the Washington Post
Thursday, January 19, 2006
In life, Adam Cann and Clinton Upchurch did not know one another. One was from Florida, the other, Kansas. One a Marine, the other Army. In death, however, they will lie forever side-by-side, buried on a moody January day in grave numbers 8309 and 8310 in the section of Arlington National Cemetery reserved for those killed in Iraq.
Sergeant Adam Leigh Cann, a Marine K-9 handler a few weeks shy of his 24th birthday, was killed by a suicide bomber in Ramadi on January 5, 2006, one of the bloodiest days in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003. He is the first Marine K-9 handler killed in action since the Vietnam War, military officials said.
Army Specialist Clinton R. Upchurch, 31, was a Finley County, Kansas, Sheriff's Deputy who joined the military as a private at age 29. He was killed January 7, 2006, in Samarra, 60 miles north of Baghdad, when an improvised device exploded near his Humvee and insurgents opened fire.
Upchurch, who was assigned to the 3rd Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, was promoted to the rank of Specialist after his death.
Yesterday, a Marine honor guard carried Cann's coffin with stylized movements. Once they reached the grave, they hovered, knees bent, then hoisted the casket high overhead -- Marine ritual.
A huge crowd was gathered around the grave. Cann's father, Leigh, stooped to pluck a red rose from a funeral arrangement and sat fingering it throughout the service. "I am proud that you lived, Adam," Leigh Cann wrote on the legacy.com Web site, where visitors can honor U.S. service members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. "You are an honorable man and the best person that I ever knew."
In the crowd, Cann's friend and former Marine "battle buddy" Jason Cannon couldn't shake the feeling that this was all wrong. They had known each other since boot camp in 2001, when Cann was a mere 19-year-old. They had gone through elite K-9 school together, shipped out to Iraq together and, as their names fell one behind the other alphabetically, often wound up together.
Cann made everyone laugh -- he could imitate anyone, whether South Park characters or officers. And he was always playing practical jokes, such as pouring Coke or sour milk into someone's combat boots, or waking someone up in the middle of the night, Cannon said. "You were always waiting to laugh, because you knew the next thing out of his mouth was going to be funny," he said.
And yet Cann was a real Marine's Marine, Cannon said. One night, after they both became Corporals, they went into town near Camp Pendleton, California, to buy beer and celebrate. Another Marine was there, wearing his camouflage -- a violation of Marine Corps policy. Cann got in the guy's face, Cannon said. The guy pulled a knife. Cann stayed in his face, saying, "Now you're going to use a knife on me? Go ahead and use it. You're not a Marine, you're not even a man. You know you're in the wrong."
"To me, I was thinking, it's not worth my life, him buying beer with his cammies, but he was a real Marine," Cannon said. "He's brave. I'll tell you that." The Marine was later arrested.
Cann had reenlisted for a second tour in Iraq. He was a military police officer with the Security Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force. On the morning of January 5, 2006, he and his German shepherd, Bruno, were in front of the Ramadi Glass and Ceramics Works, where about 1,000 Iraqis lined up for a chance to join the Iraqi police force. Just before 11 a.m., a car overran a security checkpoint, causing panic in the crowd. Minutes later, Cann approached a suspicious-looking man, who then detonated a 40-pound vest of explosives, military officials said.
In the grief-filled days after getting news of Cann's death, Cannon wrote a letter to his friend: "I used to say to you, 'Cann, you're half the man I am.' But in all honesty, Adam, I only wish I could be half the man you are."
Two hours before Cann was mourned, a torrential morning rain let up just as a solemn Army honor guard carried Clinton Upchurch's plastic-covered coffin, splashing in double time through the soggy grass, to the grave. Two rows of fresh-faced Army privates and specialists, all looking barely out of high school in their green uniforms and berets, lined up to one side. Three sheriff's deputies, in dress blues and white gloves, snapped photographs.
Army Chaplain Major Claude Brittian led the small group gathered under a rain canopy in reciting "The Lord's Prayer," as low gray clouds raced on the horizon, car engines left running against the chill rumbled and, in the distance, a yellow backhoe and earthmover noisily dug new graves.
Upchurch's mother, Cindy, told the Leaf Chronicle newspaper in Clarksville, Tennessee, near Fort Campbell, Kentucky, where Upchurch was based, that she fought with her son from the time he was 17 to try to dissuade him from joining the military. But she knew he eventually would. His father served in Vietnam and his grandfather and great-grandfather were veterans.
Upchurch's widow, Kari, said that serving in the 101st Airborne was his main goal in life. "His service to his country is something he wished for all his life."
At the end of the funeral, an Arlington Lady, a widow herself, held tightly to each woman's hand and, in turn, kissed each lightly on the forehead.
When the time came to bury Cann, the rain canopy had moved one space over and Upchurch's freshly dug grave was covered with flowers.
A few hours later, a long parade of cars wound through the cemetery following the hearse carrying Cann.
UPCHURCH, CLINTON ROBERT
Posted: 14 January 2006 Updated: 11 February 2006 Updated: 4 March 2006 Updated: 30 April 2010 Updated: 31 December 2010 Updated: 12 February 2011 Updated: 10 November 2011 Updated: 3 February 2012
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