U. S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 207-08
March 14, 2008
DoD Identifies Army Casualty
The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Staff Sergeant Laurent J. West, 32, of Raleigh, North Carolina, died March 11, 2008, near Kishkishkia, Iraq, of wounds suffered when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
West Virginia Father mourns son’s death in Iraq
Soldier’s unit responsible for locating, destroying 157 IEDs
GREEN SPRING, West Virginia – A retired senior officer with the U.S. Army is grieving today for the son who followed in his father’s footsteps.
Staff Sergeant Laurent J. West, 32, of Raleigh, North Carolina, died Tuesday of wounds sustained when his vehicle patrol hit an improvised explosive device (IED) near Kishkishkia, Iraq.
On Wednesday, West’s father, retired Lieutenant Colonel Larry West, was met at the front door of his Green Spring home by a group of casualty assistance officers there to inform him of his son’s death.
Remembering his son with pride, West told the Times-News Saturday he “was someone you’d be proud to have raised as a son.”
“When I was in the Army, I wanted nothing more than to be a good soldier, and that’s what he was,” he said.
As the son of a career military man, Laurent West attended several schools as he followed his father from assignment to assignment. It was only natural that he would want to follow in his father’s footsteps.
“I was a Staff Sergeant when he was born, and a Lieutenant Colonel when he went into the Army,” he said.
“He tagged behind me everywhere I was assigned; he watched me go up through the ranks and understood what it was all about.”
Although the military life did not allow him to stay in any one school long enough to get involved in sports or similar activities, the younger West did “do quite well” in JROTC and managed to stay out of trouble.
“He was a good kid. All though high school, he never got into the drug crowd or the drinking crowd. I was proud of him,” West said.
He did find time, however, to get into two activities which both he and his dad would enjoy for years to come.
Describing his son as “an avid runner and rock climber,” West said the two of them were “rock climbing buddies.” The younger and faster West, though, “always seemed to show me up,” he said.
West said when his son graduated from high school in Southport, North Carolina, he knew what he wanted to do.
His father, however, wasn’t so sure.
“I told him I wanted him to go to college,” he recalls. “He said, ‘Dad, I don’t want to. I wouldn’t like it.’”
And so the younger West stepped into his father’s boots, enlisting in the Chemical Corps of the Army in 1993. Five years later, his military occupation specialty was reclassified to cavalry scout with the Third Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team.
“Cavalry scouts go out ahead of the main force,” his father explained. “In fact, his unit had already located and exploded 157 IEDs before he was killed.”
Through his almost 15 years in the service, the younger West had earned the admiration and respect of enlisted men and officers alike.
“I’m honored to have not only served with him, but also to have known and learned from him,” said Command Sergeant Major Timothy Davis.
“Staff Sergeant West was a man who was abundantly humble in his demeanor; a quality that is not noted in many men. Certainly his was an unquestionably fine trait.
“He could be counted on to get the job done, and done right. He was always willing to pass his knowledge on to his soldiers, and was a genuine man who cared about his soldiers.”
“Staff Sergeant West led by example, and from the front,” said Lieutenant Colonel Michael Iacobucci, Third Squad, 73 CAV commander.
“His calm, resolute leadership always produced effective results. He will be missed.”
“They all knew that if they asked Laurent for his advice, it wouldn’t be anything but his honest opinion,” his father said. “He had their respect.”
Among West’s many awards and decorations were the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart, the Army Commendation Medal with four oak leaf clusters, the Army Achievement Medal with two silver oak leaf clusters, the Army Good Conduct Medal with three loops, the National Defense Service Medal, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, the Combat Action Badge and the Parachutist’s Badge.
West is survived by his wife, Michelle West; stepdaughters Nistasha and Madison, all of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in addition to his father and stepmother, Carol West, of Green Spring.
Although arrangements are incomplete, West said there will be a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.
NOTE: Sergeant West was laid to rest with military honors at Arlington National Cemetery on 26 March 2008.
WEST, LAURENT J
- SSG US ARMY
- DATE OF BIRTH: 03/31/1975
- DATE OF DEATH: 03/11/2008
- BURIED AT: SECTION 60 SITE 8554
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
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