Thaddeus Scott Montgomery II – Staff Sergeant, United States Army

U.S. Department of Defense

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

January 22, 2010

DOD Identifies Army Casualty

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

Staff Sergeant Thaddeus S. Montgomery II, 29, of West Yellowstone, Montana, died January 20, 2010, at Korengal Outpost, Afghanistan.  He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colorado.

The circumstances surrounding the incident are under investigation.

West Yellowstone soldier dies in Afghanistan
published on Friday, January 22, 2010 10:39 PM MST
Courtesy of the Bozeman (Montana) Daily Chronicle

Army Staff Sergeant Thaddeus S. Montgomery II, of West Yellowstone, Montana, has died of noncombat-related injuries at Lorengal Outpost in Afghanistan’s mountainous Kunar Province, the Pentagon announced Friday.

Thaddeus S. Montgomery

Thaddeus S. Montgomery

Thaddeus S. Montgomery

An Army carry team carries a transfer case containing the remains of Army Staff Sergeant Thaddeus S. Montgomery
Friday, January 22, 2010, at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware.

He was 29 years old and left behind a 3-year-old son.

Further details about the circumstances surrounding his death were not immediately available, said Randy Taylor, of media relations at Fort Carson, Colo. The incident is under investigation.

Montgomery was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson.
Before joining the Army, Montgomery worked at Yellowstone National Park, according to the Decatur (Tenn.) Daily. He also lived in Decatur at one point, where he attended St. Ann’s School and Decatur High School, according to the newspaper.

One friend in Tennessee described him as popular and well liked.

“If you could have seen his smile, you’d have known why,” Lucy Schrimster told the Decatur Daily.

Montgomery joined the Army in March 2003, and was serving his third deployment when he died. His first two tours were in Iraq.

A drill sergeant from the Midwest who met Montgomery in Iraq in 2005, posted a memorial on his blog, The sergeant defined Montgomery as “a reliable friend” and a “valuable soldier” who “consistently showed compassion and empathy for the soldiers in his charge as well as his peers.”

The two were redeployed to Iraq in 2006, the drill sergeant wrote, and spent the next 15 months working together. “He was a competent leader and a trusted confidante. His sniper team recorded successful interdictions of IED emplacement and killed numerous enemy.”

Montgomery returned to Fort Carson in late 2007, the drill sergeant wrote, and began building a new team to deploy again. In June 2009, Montgomery was sent to a remote forward-operating base in Afghanistan “where again he defined himself with his courageousness and work ethic.”

Montgomery’s character was also lauded by Arizona Highways Editor Robert Stieve this week. In an online posting Thursday, Stieve recalled that Montgomery had contacted him last fall, requesting copies of the magazine, “something that he and his fellow soldiers could use as a respite from the horror around them.”

The magazine sent off the magazines, along with a collection of Arizona-made products and food treats, to the platoon in Camp Vegas in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley and, eventually, “unofficially adopted the platoon,” Stieve wrote last fall.

That relationship, highlighted in the pages of the magazine, gave the editorial staff and readers “a new perspective on the war, and also some degree of enlightenment,” Stieve wrote.

His death triggered tears, shock and sadness, Stieve wrote Thursday. “He gave his life so that magazines like Arizona Highways can enjoy the freedom of speech, along with all the other civil liberties that come with living in the United States. I will never forget that sacrifice, and I’ll certainly never forget Sergeant Montgomery.”

In the course of his nearly seven years of service, Montgomery earned 20 military awards, according to the Department of Defense, including: the Army Commendation Medal, National Defense Service Medal and the Iraq and Afghanistan campaign medals.

Montgomery’s remains were received at Dover Air Force Base, Del., early Friday morning, according to the Associated Press.

He is survived by a son, Thaddeus Montgomery III, of Cullman, Tenn.; fiancée, Erica Amora Tadeo of Malaysia; father Thaddeus Montgomery Sr., of Fairfax, Va.; and mother Debra Hays, of Florence, Ky.; sister Stephanie Montgomery, of Atlanta; and brother Dustin Border, of Madison, Tenn., the Decatur newspaper also reported.

23 January 2010:
Courtesy of the Colorado Spring Gazette

It’s no surprise to Debra Hays that her son, Staff Sergeant Thaddeus S. Montgomery II, ended up in a remote outpost in Afghanistan where the infantryman died Wednesday from unspecified injuries described as a “noncombat incident.”


Montgomery, 29, was born with a wanderlust, Hays said. It led him to travel the country after leaving high school in Decatur, Ala. And it prompted him to move to Montana where he worked at Yellowstone National Park for two years before joining the Army in March 2003.

“He’s one of those dreamers,” Hays said of her son. “He always wanted to go explore the world.”

That itch to see the world, combined with his love of the outdoors, explained why he adapted so well to life in the Army, she said.

“He loved the outdoors,” she said Saturday from her home in Florence, Kentucky. “He liked roughing it. Working in the outdoors. He never complained about how rough it was in Iraq or Afghanistan.”

When he died, Montgomery was serving his third combat tour. He was stationed the remote Korengal Outpost in Kunar province in eastern Afghanistan, the Army said Friday. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team at Fort Carson, Colorado.

Besides his current duty, Montgomery had logged two tours in Iraq in 2003-4 and 2006-7, as well as time in Korea patrolling the demilitarized zone, Hays said.

The family was surprised, at first, when he joined the Army.

“He said ‘Mom, it’s something I felt I needed to do,’ and I said ‘Then it’s what you need to do,’ ” Hays said, recalling their conversation in 2003.

She said he’d been inspired by a family vacation to Washington D.C. where they visited the national monuments. Plus, Hays said, the family has a long history of military service.

Montgomery was assigned to Fort Carson in 2005.

Hays said Montgomery enjoyed the Army and she described her son as a soldier whose main concern was watching out for his platoon.

“He was the kind of guy who was always there for others,” Hays said. “He wouldn’t let morale get down. He’d ask family members to send care packages for his guys and he’d send lists of everybody else’s needs.”

He also solicited care packages from businesses in the states. In one of his letters, he asked the editor of Arizona Highways magazine for copies of the monthly publication for his platoon to read. The exchange led to a bond between Montgomery and the magazine and even a television appearance in Arizona over the Christmas holidays, Hays said.

“I got to see Thad smiling,” Hays said. “He has a big smile and I could see his dimples. His smile just lights you up.”

That television interview would be the last time she’d see her son.

“What a wonderful Christmas gift,” Hays said, her voice breaking as she cried. “It’s priceless.”

Her tears turned to anger as she discussed the circumstances of her son’s death. Hays said the Army told her that Montgomery died of a head wound after being shot on the outpost, which frequently comes under enemy gunfire. Then she learned the incident was classified as a “noncombat-related incident.”

“It’s still under investigation,” she said. “We just want the truth.”

Besides Hays, Montgomery is survived by his 3-year-old son, Thaddeus Montgomery III, of Cullman, Alabama, his father, Thaddeus Montgomery Sr., of Fairfax, Virginia, a sister, Stephanie Montgomery of Atlanta, and his brother, Dustin Border of Madison, Alabama.

Burial is scheduled February 4, 2010, in Arlington National Cemetery.

30 January 2010:

The West Yellowstone soldier killed in Afghanistan January 20, 2010, will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery on Thursday, according to his obituary.

Sergeant Thaddeus Scott Montgomery II, 29, died while serving at the Korengal Outpost in the Kunar Province, in eastern Afghanistan. The U.S. Army, which initially listed Montgomery’s death as “noncombat related,” is investigating the circumstances of his death.

His mother, Debra Hays, of Florence, Kentucky, has asked the Army for more specifics, but told the Altoona (Pa.) Mirror that “she still has not been told how her son died, only that he died from a head wound.”

The highly decorated soldier served one tour in Korea and two tours in Iraq before his deployment to Afghanistan, where he was assigned to B Co., 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colorado, according to his obituary.

Burial at Arlington Cemetery is available to anyone who dies on active duty in the U.S. military, unless they are serving for training only, according to the cemetery’s Web site. Veterans are eligible if they meet certain criteria.

Some politicians, including presidents, are also eligible, along with cabinet members, U.S. Supreme Court justices and certain other government officials.

Montgomery’s ties to West Yellowstone go back to 2001, when he worked for Hamilton Stores in Yellowstone National Park. After a summer season in the park, he worked at Westmart Building Center in West Yellowstone until August 2002, according to the West Yellowstone News. He enlisted in the Army in March 2003.

But he kept in touch with his friends in West Yellowstone, Greg Forsythe, owner of Westmart, told the West Yellowstone News. He “came and saw us quite often when he was here between tours.”

Forsythe called Montgomery “a unique individual and a good kid.”

Westmart posted Montgomery’s photo and a statement upon learning of his death. The statement said in part: “Your untimely death brings much sorrow and sadness to the hearts and lives of your family and friends. … We are proud of your service and dedication to that which you believed in and fought for. You are truly an American hero.”

Since her son’s death, Montgomery’s mother told the Altoona Mirror, condolences have “come from all over the world,” and she has been told her son will be remembered as a man “who helped his friends” and “tried to make it easier for his guys.”

His father, Thaddeus, lives in Alexandria, Virginia. His young son, Thaddeus Montgomery III, lives in Cullman, Alabama.

Montgomery was also engaged to be married when he died. The Decatur (Alabama) Daily on January 23 published a letter from his friends and family asking for help getting his fiancée to his funeral.

“Prior to his untimely death, Thad asked his mother to honor one request if he was killed in the line of duty,” according to the letter. “That one request was that his fiancée, Erica Yih Shu Wong, be present at his burial.”

The couple had already begun working to get Yih Shu Wong a visa to travel to the United States from Malaysia so they could be married, the letter explained. Readers were asked to contact local, state and federal officials and call attention to the situation. “Every voice helps.”

The Decatur newspaper reported five days later that Yih Shu Wong had received a temporary visa to attend the funeral.

Montgomery is scheduled to be buried at Arlington at 1 p.m. Thursday, February 4. The evening before, friends will be received from 6 to 8 p.m., at Murphy’s Funeral Home, 4510 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA 22203.

A memorial fund has been set up for his son. Donations may be mailed to: “In memory of Staff Sgt. Thad Montgomery,” c/o Bank of Kentucky, 111 Lookout Farm Drive, Crestview Hills, KY 41017.


  • DATE OF BIRTH: 09/21/1980
  • DATE OF DEATH: 01/20/2010



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