Greg Lamonte Sutton – Sergeant First Class, United States Army

NEWS RELEASES from the United States Department of Defense
No. 724-07 IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 9, 2007

DoD Identifies Army Casualty

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

Sergeant First Class Greg L. Sutton, 38, of Spring Lake, North Carolina, died June 6, 2007, in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds sustained from an improvised explosive device.He was assigned to the 212th Military Transition Team, 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kansas.

7 June 2007:

The sacrifices and hardships of war has hit home for one family in the East.

Sergeant First Class Greg Sutton was killed Wednesday morning when a roadside bomb exploded.

This was his second tour in Iraq – he deployed in January. Sutton was based in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and has served in the army for nearly 15 years.

As his family tells us Sutton was born to serve and died doing what he loved.

With war comes sacrifice and heartache sometimes follows. But a family that lives through the tragedy of war has to carry on.

Evette Connor says, “I screamed you see people on the news everyday about these guys dying overseas when it hits home and it's your brother – your only brother- it took a toll.”

Connor talked with her brother, Sergeant First Class Greg Sutton, just two days before he was killed.

Connor says, “we e-mailed each other on Monday and he told me to keep my head up.”

She is from a military family. But she didn't want her brother to go to Iraq a second time, but he did. A choice she says she'll always be proud of.

Connor says, “he loved the army, he was a soldier for life.”

Carolyn Ward, says she wished her nephew didn't have to go either. Now the people who have to live without Sutton, find comfort in the two children he left behind.

Ward says, “all I could think about is what kind of life are they going to have now.”

But Sutton will never fulfill his dreams for his family. Connor says, “to live the life in the army he wanted to retire with his kids and his wife and his main dream was to buy his mama a home to see his kids go to college.”

And the family also tells us they will receive his body in Oklahoma soon. They plan to have his funeral in Farmville because most of Sutton's family and friends are here in Eastern North Carolina. They are still making arrangements.


Farmville, North Carolina, family grieves soldier's loss
By Cassondra Lampkin
Coutesy of The Daily Reflector
9 June 2007

The hardest part of a solider's death is not being able to see his face again, said one Farmville woman.

About 4 p.m. Friday, Evette Connor received a telephone call telling her it's not possible to have an open casket funeral for her brother, Sergeant First Class Class Greg Sutton. The 38-year-old U.S. Army soldier was killed Wednesday in Iraq, the victim of a roadside bomb. A funeral service is being planned for Arlington National Cemetery, outside of Washington, D.C., Connor said.

Evette Connor of Farmville reflects on pictures of her brother, U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Greg Sutton, who died in a roadside explosion in Iraq Wednesday.

“I wanted to see his face,” she said. “Kiss his face one last time.”

Hearing about the casualties of war on television is one thing, but experiencing it firsthand is unreal, said Carolyn Ward, Sutton's aunt.

The family suspected a closed casket service would be necessary, she said, “but it's still hard to know it's confirmed. It's unreal.”

This was Sutton's second tour in Iraq; he deployed in January. Sutton was based at Fort Sill, Oklahome, and had served in the Army for nearly 15 years, Connor said.

Sutton married his wife, Joanne, in 2005 and was a father of two children, ages 2 and 3.

Sutton's nephew talked about the lessons he learned from his uncle, saying they are even more important for him to heed.

“It's time for me to step up; he leaves a legacy,” said Shaimal Sutton, 20, of Greenville, North Carolina.

Soldier-like qualities — discipline and hard work — have rubbed off on him, the younger Sutton said.

“You have to earn what you get,” he recalled his uncle saying. “Put your education first.”

Sgt. Sutton believed in authority and didn't tolerate foolishness, Ward said.

His presence commanded respect, Connor said.

“I would still listen to him even as old as I am,” she said.

Connor, however, said she wouldn't encourage her son to serve in the military.

“If they even did a draft, I'd send him (Shaimal Sutton) to Canada somewhere,” Connor said.

The family is grieving but is proud of his success in the military and his commitment to family, Ward said.

He was “the life of the party, cookout, or any other event,” Ward said. “He was stern but would cut up at the drop of a hat.”

16 July 2007:

FORT SILL, Oklahoma – Masons clad in black suits and white aprons lined the entrance to a post chapel during funeral services for a soldier from North Carolina killed in Iraq.

Services were held Friday for Sergeant First Class Greg Lamonte Sutton, who died June 6, 2007, after the vehicle in which he was riding struck an improvised explosive device in Baghdad, Iraq.

Originally from Spring Lake, North Carolina, Sutton, 38, was serving in Iraq with the 212th Military Transition Team, 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division based at Fort Riley, Kansas. His wife and two children still live on post at Fort Sill.

While at Fort Sill, Sutton was a member of the 1st Battalion, 78th Field Artillery. Sutton also served as a causality assistance officer from November 2005 through October 2006, helping families of slain soldiers, said Jon Long, public affairs officer at Fort Sill.

Sutton volunteered to go to Iraq so that a friend who worked in the same office could retire.

“It was a calling. He said it was something he had to do. And he would do it again. He knew the risks. Everybody knows this: He would do it again,” said family friend Gabby Galloway.

During Friday's service, a video tribute flashed pictures of Sutton, prompting cries of “Daddy!” from his young children seated in the front pew.

Veterans and active-duty soldiers stood with members of the Masons from Mistletoe Lodge No. 31 as an honor guard marched Sutton's flag-draped coffin into the chapel and carried it out again after the service.

Maj. Kenneth Hurst, chaplain of 214th Fires Brigade, spoke of Sutton's life, service and sacrifice to a gathering of his family, fellow Masons, friends and the soldiers with whom he served.

“God has blessed us with the gift of memory,” Hurst said. “Imagine if there were no memories. But he has given us the gift to remember great days, and Greg's service to God and country, and we give God thanks today,” Hurst said.

Burial with military honors will be at 2 p.m. Wednesday at Arlington National Cemetery.

Most of the soldiers serving in the 212th Military Transition Team in Baghdad were ordered there by the Army. Sergeant First Class Greg L. Sutton, a Spring Lake native, was there so that a friend who had put in for retirement didn’t have to go.

On Wednesday, Sutton was buried at Arlington National Cemetery, nearly two weeks after he died of injuries suffered June 6, 2007, when his vehicle struck an improvised explosive device.

One soldier volunteering to replace another on a rotation to Iraq is not uncommon, especially when deployment would interfere with retirement plans, said Emily Kelley, an Army spokeswoman at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, where Sutton had been stationed since 2004. That Sutton would make such an offer “doesn’t seem out of character,” said Kelley, who knew him.

Sutton had served for a year as a casualty assistance notification officer, offering condolences in his deep, calm voice to families who were hearing the shattering news that their loved ones would not be coming home.

“They chose him for that job, to talk to people at that time, because he was the kind of person who wouldn’t let you not like him. The moment you met him, you were talking to him like a friend,” said Gabby Galloway, a friend and spokesman for Sutton’s family. “He did that job like it wasn’t even a job.”

Galloway said his friend believed in duty — what Sutton, 38, once described as “a calling.” He would have continued his assignment in the casualty assistance office until he was deployed at a later date, Galloway said, but a colleague was denied retirement because he had been assigned to Iraq.

“Greg, being the friend that he is, volunteered. I’m sure his friend feels really badly about it,” Galloway said. “We try to tell him, and everyone else, that Greg knew what could happen — and if he were given the chance, he’d do it again. That’s just the kind of person he was.”

Sutton joined the Army 16 years ago. He had served elsewhere in the Middle East, but his assignment as a fire specialist with a unit training Iraqi security forces was his first in Iraq.

At a funeral service Friday at Fort Sill, Sutton’s wife, Joane, held the couple’s son, Greg, 18 months, and daughter Cailee, 3. Sutton had two other children — Sari, 15, and Andrew, 14 — from a previous marriage.

“They didn’t have a eulogy; they did a slide show backed by music,” said Kelley, describing the 15-minute display of photos taken with family members, bowling friends, Masonic brothers and other soldiers. “His daughter would yell ‘Daddy’ when she saw the pictures. It was heartbreaking for a lot of people.”

On Wednesday, a light gray hearse led a procession of more than 30 cars to Arlington National Cemetery, where Sutton’s body was interred.

Among the new graves brightly decorated with flowers, family and friends gathered in the heat for a brief ceremony. His mother, clad in white, bowed her head and fought back tears as a Roman Catholic priest blessed the coffin.

Galloway said he believed Sutton was thinking of his children when he volunteered for the deployment.

“Greg was a military man, and he loved his kids. He was fighting for them,” he said.


Career Soldier Saw Army as His Calling
Sutton Remembered for Commitment to Service, Family
By Mark Berman
Courtesy of the Washington Post
Thursday, June 21, 2007

Sergeant First Class Greg L. Sutton was a career soldier, following in the footsteps of his father, who had spent more than 20 years in the Army. The Army was his calling, family members said.

Sutton, 38, was killed June 6, 2007, in Baghdad by an improvised explosive device.

“He said it was something he had to do,” family friend Gabby Galloway told the Associated Press. “And he would do it again. He knew the risks. Everybody knows this: He would do it again.”

Yesterday, more than 80 mourners gathered to pay tribute to the devoted husband and father as he was buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Sutton was the 348th service member killed in Iraq to be buried there.

During the service, Sutton was honored with the customary three-shot volley fired by seven riflemen. Brigadier General Thomas Seamands presented Sutton's wife, Joanne, and mother, Grace, with folded U.S. flags. The Suttons were married in 2005 and have two children, Cailee, 2, and Greg, 3.

Sutton was a native of Spring Lake, North Carolina, a small town just north of Fayetteville. He played football and ran track at Westover High School before graduating in 1987 and spent a couple of years in college before joining the Army.

Sutton was on his second tour of Iraq, serving as a fire support specialist, when he was killed. He was a member of the 212th Military Transition Team, 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, based at Fort Riley, Kansas.

There was a funeral for Sutton on Friday at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, where he had previously served as a casualty assistance officer.

Sutton's nephew, Shaimal Sutton, told the Greenville, North Carolina, Daily Reflector, that his uncle left behind a legacy of the importance of discipline and hard work.

“You have to earn what you get,” Sutton, 20, recalled his uncle saying. “Put your education first.”

Greg Sutton was a stern believer in authority and also the life of the party, an aunt, Carolyn Ward, told the Reflector. Ward said the family is grieving but proud of his military success and commitment to his family.

Sutton joined the Army in February 1991 and became part of the 1st Infantry Division in November.

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U.S. Army honor guard carries the casket of Army Sergeant First Class Greg Sutton to his burial place at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, June 20, 2007
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A member of the U.S. Army honor guard walks among the headstones of U.S. servicemen who have recently died in Iraq, as he carries a flag to give to the mother of Army Sergeant First Class Greg Sutton during his burial service at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, June 20, 2007
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A member of the U.S. Army honor guards stands alongside the plot of Army Sergeant First Class Greg Sutton during his burial service at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, June 20, 2007
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U.S. Army honor guard lays down the casket of Army Sergeant First Class Greg Sutton at his burial place in Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, June 20, 2007

APTOPIX Iraq Arlington Funeral

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Members of the Honor Guard straighten the U.S. flag on the coffin of Army Sereant First Class Greg Lamonte Sutton, during funeral services at Arlington National Cemetery Wednesday, June 20, 2007
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A U.S. Army honor guard lifts the U.S. flag off the casket of Army Sergeant First Class Greg Sutton as members of his family participate in his burial service at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, June 20, 2007
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A U.S.military firing party shoots one of three volleys in honor of fallen U.S. Army Ssergeant First Class Greg Sutton, during his burial service at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, June 20, 2007
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A military bugler plays taps among the headstones during a burial service for U.S. Army Sergeant First Class Greg Sutton at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, June 20, 2007
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Eighteen-month-old Greg Sutton and his mother, Joane Sutton, listen to a lone bugler play “Taps” during her husband Army Sergeant First Class Greg Lamonte Sutton's burial ceremony with military honors at Arlington National Cemetery today.
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Brigadier General Thomas Seamands, left, kneels as he presents a U.S. flag to Joane Sutton, right, widow of Army Sergeant First Class Greg Lamonte Sutton, during funeral services at Arlington National Cemetery
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A U.S. flag which adorned the coffin of Army Sergeant First Class Greg Sutton is presented to his widow Joane, as their 18-month-old son Greg Jr (R) cries during his burial service at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, June 20, 2007.
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Greg Sutton Jr, the 18-month-old son of fallen U.S. Army soldier Ssergeant First Class Greg Sutton, is pictured in his mother Joane's arms alongside other members of his extended family during a burial service for his father at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, June 20, 2007

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