Garrett Ian McLead – Sergeant, United States Army

U.S. Department of Defense

Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
News Release

August 23, 2007

DoD Identifies Army Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of 14 soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died August 22, 2007, in Multaka, Iraq, of injuries suffered when their helicopter crashed.

Killed were the following soldiers assigned to the 4th Squadron, 6th U.S. Air Cavalry Regiment, Fort Lewis, Washington:

Captain Corry P. Tyler, 29, of Georgia.
Chief Warrant Officer Paul J. Flynn, 28, of Whitsett, North Carolina
Sergeant Matthew L. Tallman, 30, of Groveland, California
Specialist Rickey L. Bell, 21, of Caruthersville, Missouri

Also killed were the following soldiers assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii:

Captain Derek A. Dobogai, 26, of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin
Staff Sergeant Jason L. Paton, 25, of Poway, Califprnia
Sergeant Garrett I. McLead, 23, of Rockport, Texas
Corporal Jeremy P. Bouffard, 21, of Middlefield, Massachusetts
Corporal Phillip J. Brodnick, 25, of New Lenox, Illinois
Corporal Joshua S. Harmon, 20, of Mentor, Ohio
Corporal Nathan C. Hubbard, 21, of Clovis, California
Specialist Michael A. Hook, 25, of Altoona, Pennsylvania
Specialist Jessy G. Pollard, 22, of Springfield, Missouri
Specialist Tyler R. Seideman, 20, of Lincoln, Arkansas

The cause of the incident is under investigation.

Group Burial Funeral Services: Friday, 24 October 2008: Arlington National Cemetery
PAUL J FLYNN, Chief Warrant Officer 2, USA POST CHAPEL 11:00
JASON L PATON, Staff Sergeant, USA POST CHAPEL 11:00

Honoring Fallen 14 With ‘Quiet Strength'
By Mark Berman
Courtesy of The Washington Post
Saturday, October 25, 2008

Four Black Hawk helicopters skimmed overhead against the backdrop of a gray, cloudy sky. Below, more than 150 people brought together by tragedy and united in grief gathered yesterday to pay tribute to 14 soldiers honored at Arlington National Cemetery.

The soldiers were killed August 22, 2007, in a helicopter crash in Multaka, Iraq. Each had been buried separately. But 14 months after the accident, which was caused by mechanical failure, family and friends bundled together on a chilly October morning for a group tribute.

The mourners followed a horse-drawn caisson bearing a single flag-cloaked silver coffin up Bradley Drive. The coffin was carried to Section 60 of the cemetery and placed amid a bevy of red, white and blue flowers.

As part of the service, folded flags were given to parents and siblings, widows and a best friend. Each flag was touched for a moment to the coffin before being handed to the loved ones of the fallen soldiers.

The soldiers were between the ages of 20 and 30 years old. They hailed from 11 states, spanning from California to Massachusetts.

Captain Corry P. Tyler, 29, of Woodbine, Georgia, graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1999 and had deployed to Iraq in 2003 and 2006. Chief Warrant Officer 2 Paul J. Flynn, 28, of Whitsett, North Carolina, was a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter pilot with a decade of service.

The eldest soldier, Sergeant Matthew L. Tallman, 30, of Groveland, California, was a tall, easygoing man and a devoted father, family members told the Los Angeles Times.

The youngest soldiers were Corporal Joshua S. Harmon, of Mentor, Ohio, and Specialist Tyler R. Seideman, of Lincoln, Arkansas, both 20. Harmon, a medic, had married his wife, Kristin, 84 days before his death, she told the News-Herald in Ohio. Seideman, who loved to joke, was a generous person who would “give you the shirt off his back if you needed it,” said his best friend, Jeremy Bolivear, at a memorial service honoring the soldier, according to the Morning News in Arkansas.

Specialist Rickey L. Bell, 21, of Caruthersville, Missouri, joined the military in 2005 after graduating from high school.

Tyler, Flynn, Tallman and Bell were assigned to the 4th Squadron, 6th U.S. Air Cavalry Regiment based at Fort Lewis, Washington.

Captain Derek A. Dobogai, 26, of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, was selfless, kind and too modest to boast about his accomplishments, his family said in a statement last year. “Therefore, we will honor him with quiet strength,” relatives said.

Staff Sergeant Jason L. Paton, 25, of Poway, California, was to be married November 18, 2007, family members told the Los Angeles Times. He had deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq before, and his second deployment to Iraq was scheduled to end three weeks after the helicopter crash.

Sergeant Garrett I. McLead, 23, of Rockport, Texas, liked surfing, skateboarding and playing soccer. He enlisted shortly after his birthday in May 2002 because of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks, according to the Rockport Pilot.

Corporal Jeremy P. Bouffard, 21, of Middlefield, Massachusetts, was a jokester and a loyal, dedicated man who loved his wife Amanda, son Caleb and the Boston Red Sox. Nearly 1,000 mourners attended his funeral last year, according to the Boston Globe.

Corporal Phillip J. Brodnick, 25, of New Lenox, Illinois, was “the life of the party,” a friend wrote on the guest book of a Web site dedicated to his memory.

Corporal Nathan C. Hubbard, 21, of Clovis, California, was one of three brothers serving in Iraq. Marine Lance Corporal Jared Hubbard was killed in 2004, so Nathan and Jason Hubbard enlisted to honor their brother's sacrifice. Jason Hubbard was in the same platoon as Nathan and in a helicopter ordered to secure the crash site, according to CNN.

Specialist Michael A. Hook, 25, of Altoona, Pennsylvania, was excited to come home because his fiancee, Susan Fetterman, was pregnant, according to the Altoona Mirror. Mere weeks after the crash, she gave birth to their son, Mason.

Corporal Jessy G. Pollard, 22, of Springfield, Missouri, embraced and believed in what he was doing and would tell family members about jumping out of planes at night, they told the Associated Press.

Dobogai, Paton, McLead, Bouffard, Brodnick, Harmon, Hubbard, Hook, Pollard and Seideman were assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division based at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.

Yesterday's burial brought to 447 the number of Iraq war casualties buried, memorialized or inurned at Arlington National Cemetery.

Hollywood good looks might have gotten him a modeling or acting gig, but ultimately it was the battlefield that called to 23-year-old soldier Garrett McLead, who died Wednesday in Iraq.


McLead, a Sergeant in the Army's 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry based at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, was one of 14 soldiers who died in a Black Hawk helicopter crash during a night mission 180 miles north of Baghdad, near the city of Kirkuk.

After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, McLead, who was a senior at Rockport-Fulton High School at the time, was drawn to the military, friends and family said.

“He wanted to be an actor, but after 9/11 he changed his plans and went for God and country,” McLead's uncle Paul Emmons said Thursday. “We thought he was going to California for modeling and to try his hand at acting.”

Before he enlisted, McLead talked over his decision with Walter Knight, his pastor at First Baptist Church in Rockport. Texas.

Knight had known McLead, who he described as “one of those Ralph Lauren-type kids,” for nearly a decade. McLead always had a tan and nice hair and he was always dressed sharply. But there was depth with the kid's image.

“He joined the Army during the time everyone was feeling real patriotic,” Knight said. “He had a real spiritual side and felt it was supposed to be part of his life.”

The clock was ticking on McLead's second tour of the Middle East. He rotated through Afghanistan during his first tour, and his second tour, in Iraq, was due to end the first part of August when the Army extended it, Emmons said. McLead, a sniper who also did Army reconnaissance work, was 52 days from completing his time in Iraq when he was killed, Emmons said.

After the military notified McLead's parents, Patrick and Patty, around noon Wednesday, the news spread quickly through this town of about 7,000. The family, who moved to Aransas Pass within the last couple of years, remains active in the church and gospel singing and owns a hair salon in Rockport.

The flags at the city, county and school district were lowered to half-staff Wednesday, where they will remain until after a memorial service, which is not yet scheduled, according to Police Chief Tim Jayroe and Aransas County Judge Burt Mills' office.

Patrick and Patty McLead met with Army representatives Thursday afternoon but did not get new information about when their son's body would be returned, Emmons said.

McLead was well known when he was in high school. He played soccer, tennis and the saxophone in the high school band and had a tight-knit crew of friends.

“A good, all-American kid that you like to have around you,” said Aransas County Independent School District superintendent Wayne Johnson, who was principal of the high school when McLead attended. “We have not done anything yet in his memory, but once it is appropriate we will dedicate a tree with a marker.”

In 2005, McLead's former classmate and fellow soccer player at Rockport-Fulton High School, Matthew Holloway, was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq.

“This is our second one in Iraq,” Johnson said. “The impact in small town? It actually makes our community bind together. We begin to respect how fragile life really is and it makes us appreciate one another and take time to say thank you, hello and how are you doing.”

McLead's friends and family will remember most his sense of humor, his prankster nature and his sense of adventure.

“The way he laughs,” his cousin and best friend Greg Emmons said, before shakily correcting himself. “The way he laughed. He had an intoxicating laugh.”

Because of McLead's adventurous nature, he signed up for some pretty risky things in the Army, including sniper school and mountain survival training, Knight said.

Knight figured time in the Army would cure him of that wanderlust. Instead, he was surprised when he learned McLead had re-enlisted and was headed for a second tour in the Middle East.

“Well, because he had always been such a free spirit,” Knight said. “I thought that little stint in the military was all he needed, but I guess not. He grew up and he stayed.”

Growing up, McLead hung out at lot at his buddy Ted Little's house.

When McLead went to the Army, Little, who is about to be deployed to Qatar, went to the Air Force, Little's father Rusty said Thursday.

On leave from the Army recently, McLead visited Rusty Little.

“I have known the kid since he was little,” Little said. “He was proud to be over there, doing what he was doing. Garrett was always a pretty fun kid, but he was pretty serious about what he was doing over there.”

 Laughter soothed many of about 600 mourners who overflowed pews and pressed into chairs lining walls Saturday at the funeral for Sergeant Garrett Ian McLead, 23. He died August 22, 2007, in Iraq, alongside 13 comrades in a Black Hawk helicopter crash, after completing a reconnaissance mission.

“Nothing I can say will show how special he is to me and how much I love him and miss him,” said the soldier's cousin Greg Emmons, who shared memories with mourners. “But he was a goof-off.

“Garrett couldn't just go surfing,” Emmons said. “He had to moon everybody. And the stories get more graphic from there. Yet he was full of loyalty, bravery, love and life — a glow I'll never forget.”

About 100 Patriot Guard Riders of South Texas holding American flags stood solemnly, an arm's length apart, skirting the driveway entrance to First Baptist Church. Inside, six surfboards stood in salute along altar walls behind the flag-draped casket.

Whispering mourners fell silent as a slide show began with a moppy-haired toddler showing off for the camera. It clicked through baseball years and raised chuckles at the image of the lanky blond teen awkwardly twisted into slumber in an overstuffed chair.

Photos of the blue-eyed graduate in gown hugging family turned to surfboard antics next to a pier, then a cheek-to-cheek mash of mother Patti McLead with her soldier son. The final photo was a glaring sun radiating behind a silhouetted Garrett in Iraq as he stood alone griping his gun by his hip to the song “Mine Eyes Have Seen The Glory.”

As the photo faded, the crowd stood while family members who had gathered in the church Fellowship Hall filed in, filling six front-row pews.

In a 30-second video taken in Iraq, McLead narrated over the churning rumble of helicopters, his face shielded with helmet and goggles: “The Black Hawks are looking to see if we can get these guys.” The camera panned the desert landscape. “See you later. Bye.”


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