NEWS RELEASES from the United States Department of Defense
No. 334-06 IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DoD Identifies Army Casualty
The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Captain Ian P. Weikel, 31, of Colorado, died in Balad, Iraq on April 18, 2006, from injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his HMMWV during combat operations in Baghdad. Weikel was assigned to the 10th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.
Courtesy of the United States Military Academy
A former class president, star football and basketball player at Fountain-Fort Carson High School who attended West Point died after his vehicle was struck by a roadside explosive in Baghdad, The Gazette reported Wednesday.
Captain Ian P. Weikel, 31, was assigned to the 10th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, based at Fort Hood, Texas. He died Tuesday in Balad, which is about 42 miles north of Baghdad, the military said.
Weikel, of Colorado Springs was profiled in 1993 after being picked by The Gazette as one of the “Best and Brighest” teenagers. While in high school — where he organized food drives and worked to get students to take a drug free pledge before they could buy prom tickets — Weikel dreamed of being an Air Force pilot.
He graduated with a 3.94 grade-point-average and went on to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York.
“My life is regimented, and the challenges are hard. Anything worth having is, though,” he told the newspaper shortly after graduating.
Weikel's family could not be reached Wednesday night.
Sorrow spread through the Fountain-Fort Carson community Wednesday as friends and family learned of the death in Iraq of Captain Ian P. Weikel, whose friends described him as a natural leader and problem-solver who led by example.
Weikel, 31, died in Balad, Iraq, on Sunday when an improvised explosive device detonated near the U.S. Army Humvee he was riding in during combat operations, the Department of Defense said.
A graduate of West Point, Weikel was assigned to the 10th Cavalry Regiment, the 1st Brigade Combat Team in the 4th Infantry Division based out of Fort Hood, Texas.
To his teachers and coaches at Fountain-Fort Carson High School, he was a bright and energetic young man who stood out from the moment they met him.
“Ian was a very special young man,” said Mitch Johnson, who coached Weikel and his brother, Chad, on the varsity football team.
“You could tell that from the moment he walked through the door as a bright-eyed freshman,” Johnson said.
Ian Weikel was the team quarterback and president of the student government in his senior year.
Michael Maiurro, a teacher at the high school, said Weikel “was the kind of kid who was always part of the solution.”
Weikel married a fellow West Point graduate. He and his wife, Wendy, served overseas together in Europe. She was discharged back to Colorado Springs when they learned she was pregnant with their first child, Jonathan Troy, a boy born in August. Their son's middle name reflected the father's profession. Troy means “foot soldier”, Maiurro said.
Maiurro last saw his former student when Weikel returned to Colorado Springs for a visit with his family and a chance to be with his wife and newborn son.
“He was no longer a student but a peer,” Maiurro said. “He and I could talk politics and debate government.”
“He was the kind of young man that we all could share,” he added. “He was part of all of us.
4th ID soldier died for freedom, family says
Courtesy of the Killeen Daily Herald
When Captain Ian Weikel deployed to Iraq late last year, he told his wife to look into their infant son's eyes when she misses him.
He told her that every time little Jonathan smiles at her, he would be smiling at her, too.
Jonathan looks just like his father, a man whose tenderness is obvious through photographs of him gingerly cradling the infant.
The last time Ian saw his son was through a Webcam. His wife, Wendy, would lay with little Jonathan in front of the computer, and Ian would watch.
Now, Ian gets to watch his son and smile at his wife from above.
“I'm crushed,” Wendy said Friday as she bounced Jonathan on her lap. “I'm not going to lie. I'm going to miss him. I'm scared to raise a son without him. But I can't help but be thankful about the way he was taken.”
Ian, a 4th Infantry Division soldier, was killed Tuesday by a roadside bomb that exploded near his Humvee in Balad, Iraq.
Ian, 31, was chosen to die for freedom because good has come from the loss, his family said. Wendy is learning just what an impact her husband had on people as she receives 60 or more phone calls a day from people around the world.
He was chosen to die to show those of us left behind that there is life after death in Christ, Wendy said.
“Ian wasn't sacrificed for war,” Wendy said through tears. “It was so much more than that.”
The last week
Wendy keeps their house in Harker Heights void of media. She often told her mother she would know something bad had happened in Iraq when “they show up at the door.”
On Tuesday, they did.
“Of course, we had no idea this would happen,” Wendy said about the Army care team that came to deliver the news about her husband.
Wendy was set to visit the 4th Infantry's headquarters at Fort Hood on Wednesday morning. She was going to be recognized as a volunteer of the year for her work as a family readiness group leader.
But her husband of eight years had not survived an insurgent's attack.
A friend accepted her award for her, and Wendy began comforting her husband's soldiers, who also were heartbroken.
Ian commanded Alpha Troop, 7th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team.
He suited up in the bulky body armor and Kevlar helmet and prepared to roll out to the streets of Iraq on his last patrol. He passed his first sergeant, the troop's senior noncommissioned officer, on his way out, slapped hands with him and said, “Tag! I'm it' now, First Sergeant.”
His first sergeant replied with a “hooah,” and Ian left to do his job as a soldier.
Hours later, his soldiers called Wendy to tell her how much they loved him. They said they felt guilty he died, like they let their commander down.
“I told them I was a soldier, too, and they did the right thing,” Wendy said. “The (medical evacuation) was perfect. Ian was chosen for this so people can see there is life after something like this.”
Soldiers in love
Wendy and Ian met as cadets at the United States Military Academy at West Point, where Ian was a rugby player. That's where they fell in love, got engaged and were married.
The two went to Bosnia together, served together in the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment at Fort Carson, Colo., and came to Fort Hood together as platoon leaders.
They felt like they shared platoons because Wendy knew Ian's soldiers and Ian knew hers.
They went to Iraq together during the 4th Infantry's first tour to the country and were stationed about 20 minutes from each other.
But, they didn't see each other much because the road between them was filled with roadside bombs, the very thing that two years later would separate the couple until they are reunited in heaven.
Ian did manage to attend the ceremony during which Wendy took her first company command.
“It's like we did this journey at the same time,” Wendy said. “I got out (of the Army) for the baby, and he did this deployment by himself.”
She wiped tears from her eyes and explained the couple waited seven years to have a baby so Wendy could be a soldier, too.
Then, one day, Ian told Wendy he wanted a dog. She tossed around the idea, and then Ian announced he really wanted a baby. Wendy decided she was ready, too, and left the Army for motherhood. She realizes now what a blessing that was.
“It's like it was planned,” Wendy said as she held Jonathan. “If I didn't get out of the military, we wouldn't have him.”
Liberty … is worth it.'
Ian knew why he had to be sent away from his family. Eight months ago, he and Wendy welcomed little Jonathan into the world. To announce their new blessing, the couple mailed poignant birth announcements to their friends a photo of Jonathan napping as he is nestled in his father's arms, which are covered in the olive camouflage of a battle dress uniform. The simple phrase “worth fighting for” is written above Jonathan's birth information.
When the three-year anniversary of the beginning of the war came last month, Ian wrote home about why he thought the war was worth fighting.
“No sacrifice is easy, and the loss of every soldier is heart-wrenching,” Ian wrote in his last update to his troop's families. “However, the liberty of 26 million people is worth it.”
Ian explained that the Iraqis were oppressed under Saddam Hussein's leadership and that the well-being of children who greet soldiers with requests for chocolate and soccer balls is worth the fight.
“We've had (setbacks) along the way, … but the cycles and dynamic environment of a war don't translate nicely into a neat solution,” Ian wrote. “We continue to adapt to the enemy and situation, and I think if the American people and our government can maintain its resolve, the children we see here in Iraq on a daily basis will enjoy a bright future. More important, we will be able to return home with the knowledge that our families and fellow Americans are safer because we're fighting and winning our war on terror.”
Victory over death
Ian's life will be celebrated at 6 p.m. Sunday at Temple Bible Church. He will be buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.
But his legacy will not end, his family vowed.
“He's with his king,” said Ian's dad, Dave. “He served his country, and he's with his king now.”
Wendy imagines Ian's soldiers will travel to Washington to visit his grave.
“He had honor,” she said. “It was instilled in him. He had it his whole life.”
She is collecting letters about Ian to make a book for Jonathan so he can know what his dad was like. Wendy continues to play a video of Ian reading books for Jonathan and jokes that she'll play it until Jonathan turns 18 and then can take the video with him.
Ian's mother, Beth, remembered his maturity, sharp mind and yearning to be a leader so he could make a difference in others' lives. He mentored children in Sunday school and collected soccer balls to give to children in Iraq.
He also loved Jesus. He wrote home a few weeks ago and told Wendy he was frustrated he didn't have more time for Bible study and prayer.
“He found time to fit it in,” Wendy said. “He witnessed to more people than he knew. He introduced people to Christ. He loved his soldiers and went down the roster and prayed for each one by name. I mean, who does that in their free time?”
A man who deeply cared for his country, his family, his soldiers and the people of Iraq, his family said.
“On a personal level, I say a prayer for strength and safety for the guys as we go out daily,” Ian wrote in his last update home. “I know we have countless families, friends and total strangers who also care about us on an individual level. Our guys are on the point of the spear every day. They're not sitting on a forward operating base sucking up air conditioning and eating ice cream. They're tired, hot and doing incredibly difficult work.
“A couple days before we deployed, I got everyone together, and we talked about doing our best, watching out for each other and protecting our honor. We've just completed the first 100 days, and we'll continue to focus on completing the mission until the day when we all redeploy home to be with our loved ones again.”
Ian underlined the word “all” in the last sentence of his update.
4th Infantry soldier remembered for faith
TEMPLE, TEXAS – They crisply marched in pairs to the church's altar. Each raised their right hand slowly to their brow in a somber final salute to beloved fellow soldier.
Before them was a simple tribute to Captain Ian Weikel a rifle, a Kevlar helmet, desert boots and dogtags.
But this is not the end for Weikel, a 4th Infantry Division soldier who died Tuesday in Iraq after a roadside bomb exploded near his Humvee. The end will not come later this week when his body is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
This is just the beginning for Weikel, a humble servant of God and the United States who now fellowships with his Lord in heaven, his family and friends said Sunday during a memorial service at Temple Bible Church.
“He was a valiant warrior, and he was a hero,” Gary DeSalvo, the church's pastor, said of Weikel. “Now he is a valiant warrior in the army of Jesus Christ.”
Weikel created quite a legacy in his 31 years, his family and friends said. He attended the United States Military Academy at West Point and received his commission in 1997. He had been deployed to Bosnia and Iraq once before. At the time of his death, Weikel was about a third complete with his second tour in Iraq and commanded Alpha Troop, 7th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team.
Weikel had an ever-present smile, upbeat attitude and a special sparkle in his eyes, said Todd Vincent, a friend who met Weikel during an intense, nine-month Bible study.
He remembered Weikel as being selfless. One Friday night after several days in the field training at Fort Hood, Weikel gave up his first night at home to stay at Vincent's house to help care for his two children.
“He was about others,” Vincent said, adding that Weikel was a good listener.
Weikel prayed for each of his soldiers by name at least once a day, said Greg Rhoads, who also met Weikel through the nine-month Bible study group.
“He loved everybody and treated everybody as equals,” Rhoads said. “Every single week (during the Bible study), he was praying for his soldiers. He took very seriously his command.
“He was always working to witness to them,” Rhoads continued. “He didn't push Christianity down their throats, but he made sure they knew God was the center of everything.”
Weikel's mother, Beth, guided him through asking for Christ's salvation when he was a boy, his father Dave said. Since then, he worked to keep God first and place second his wife of eight years, Wendy, and their 8-month-old son, Jonathan.
Weikel always put others before himself, his family said. Weikel's younger brother, Chad, told a story about Weikel taking the blame for not cleaning up their toys in their home's basement, which had been turned into a play room.
Ian Weikel dutifully had cleaned his half of the room, and Chad Weikel admitted he waited until the last minute to do his share. So, when Dave Weikel walked in the room, he saw his eldest son not working, and his youngest son picking up toys.
“Ian took the fall,” his brother said, adding that he never told his dad what had really happened. “Ian never let me down.”
Weikel's family remembered other funny stories about driving his 1972 muscle car to West Point through mechanical problems and a snow storm. They remembered high school football games and Weikel learning to be a good baseball player.
But the main message behind Weikel's memorial service was his commitment to Christ, something he hopes others share, his family said.
“The greatest honor you could give to Ian and Wendy Weikel and Jonathan Weikel is to confess Christ as Savior,” DeSalvo said.
Memorial gifts may be made to Jonathan Weikel's education fund in care of Todd Vincent at Edward Jones, 1908 West Avenue H, Temple, Texas, 76504.
There were no flags inside the chapel where mourners gathered Wednesday evening to honor Army Captain Ian Weikel.
No buglers sounded taps and there was no honor guard to fire volleys.
Instead, hundreds from the community that sent Weikel off to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, with fanfare 13 years ago sat riveted as images of a brief life that ended last week in Iraq flashed past.
Ian Weikel as the dad – cradling his infant son Jonathan and wearing the ear-to-ear grin of newly discovered fatherhood.
Ian the star quarterback on the gridiron of Fountain-Fort Carson High School.
Ian the brother, in a smiling childhood image with his younger sibling Chad.
Ian the soldier — where he quickly rose through the ranks, while praying every night for each of his soldiers by name.
Ian in love — hugging his wife Wendy on their wedding day.
The pictures showed “it was not the way Ian died that made him a hero — it was the way he lived,” the Rev. Kevin Feldotto said as the two-hour memorial service at Woodmen Valley Chapel drew to a close.
Most of Ian Weikel's life was spent in Colorado Springs, where, one eulogist said, the number of people he touched is beyond counting.
From high school food drives to athletic feats, he was always striving to do his best while helping others, said Mike Maiurro, his high school football coach who looked on Weikel as a surrogate son.
“Ian taught all of us and is still teaching us,” Maiurro said. “He taught me to be a better teacher, a better coach, a better father, a better husband and a better human being.”
Scores of pictures showed Weikel's athletic prowess from playing on the West Point rugby team to hiking the Grand Canyon.
His father, Dave Weikel, told the crowd about what they couldn't see on the screens — the effort Ian expended on everything he did, even if it led to failure.
Bringing the laughter accompanied by stabs of grief that only comes with death, he described his teenage son's efforts to become a left-handed baseball pitcher.
Father and son greeted the dawn every day, Ian lobbing fastballs, his father catching most and dodging a few. When Ian took the mound in a game, it was a disaster.
“He struck out the first two batters, then he hit two batters,” Dave Weikel said, recalling balls that sailed over the catcher.
But Ian kept playing — he moved to first base.
On the football field, Ian wasn't always the most graceful player, but sheer determination often succeeded where skill was lacking, his brother Chad said.
He remembered Ian, who played both offense and defense making a goal-line tackle when a high-school game was on the line.
The boy who would grow up to be an Army officer hit an opposing player with such ferocity that he gave himself a concussion.
“I will always remember Ian laying his body on the line to stop that fullback,” Chad Weikel said. “It was the same way Ian laid his life on the line to make sure my family and families around the world can live in freedom.”
The military honors for Weikel, who died April 18, 2006, in a roadside bomb attack in Baghdad, Iraq, will come soon when he is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
For now, though, friends and family say they know Ian has already been honored with entrance to heaven.
“Tonight, we all have another guardian angel,” Maiurro said.
WEIKEL, IAN PATRICK
CPT US ARMY
DATE OF BIRTH: 10/07/1974
DATE OF DEATH: 04/18/2006
BURIED AT: SECTION 60 SITE 8327
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
Holly: Thank you for taking the picture of Ian Weikel's head stone that appears on the Arlington National Cemetery website. Specifically, I am talking about the picture that shows the CAB and KIA bracelet on top of the headstone. I left those items there as a tribute to my good friend. Ian was my best friend when we were lieutenants together in 3 ACR. I was in Iraq when Ian was KIA and was therefore unable to attend his funeral. When I came home my wife and children accompanied me to Arlington so I could say could say good-by to Ian. The bracelet and CAB were my final salute to Ian…the best company grade officer that I have ever known. I had that bracelet made for him and another one that I sent to his son. The CAB was mine. It was the one that I had been awarded after I saved the lives of two soldiers in an ambush about three weeks before Ian was KIA. I tell you all of this because I feel as though you deserve to know the story behind those items in your picture. In a way that is difficult to explain I feel as though you now have a part in a very special/difficult moment in my life and my relationship with Ian. Standing there that day was one of the first times that I came to the realization that this was my generations' war, and that war was no longer this distant thing to be theorized about. But that this war was instead the reality of my life. Because not only is Ian gone, but one row back and a few markers over is my friend from college Jeremy Chandler who was killed in Afghanistan. Saving those soldiers' lives, losing Ian, seeing Ian laid to rest near Jeremy, and having a daughter born while I was in Iraq caused me to realize that this war is not my father's Vietnam, my grandfather's WWII, my great-grandfather's WWI, or my great-great-grandfather's brother's Civil War. I guess life happens… I am sure that this has been a rambling email, but please understand that this is a difficult subject for me to talk about. I just wanted to say thank you for being a part of this moment in my life. Best of luck, and if I can ever do anything for you please let me know. Jason T. Williams, MAJ, FA, “All The Way!”
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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