Victor M. Langarica – Corporal, United States Army

U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
News Release

January 24, 2007

DoD Identifies Army Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of 12 soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died in Baghdad, Iraq, on January 20, 2007, when the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter they were in crashed.

Killed were:

Colonel Brian D. Allgood, 46, of Oklahoma, who was assigned to the 30th Medical Brigade, Europe Regional Medical Command, Heidelberg, Germany.

Staff Sergeant Darryl D. Booker, 37, of Midlothian, Virginia, who was assigned to the 29th Infantry Division, Virginia Army National Guard, Sandston, Virginia.

Sergeant First Class John G. Brown, 43, of Little Rock, Arkansas, who was assigned to the Arkansas Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 185th Aviation Regiment (Air Assault), 77th Aviation Brigade, Camp Robinson, Arkansas.

Lieuetnant Colonel David C. Canegata III, 50, of St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, who was assigned to the Virgin Islands Army National Guard, Christiansted, U.S. Virgin Islands.

Command Sergeant Major Marilyn L. Gabbard, 46, of Polk City, Iowa, who was assigned to Joint Forces Headquarters, Iowa Army National Guard, Camp Dodge, Johnston, Iowa.

Command Sergeant Major Roger W. Haller, 49, of Davidsonville, Maryland, who was assigned to the 70th Regiment, Regional Training Institute – Maryland, Maryland Army National Guard, Reisterstown, Maryland.

Colonel Paul M. Kelly, 45, of Stafford, Virginia, who was assigned to the Joint Force Headquarters of the Virginia Army National Guard in Blackstone, Virginia.

Sergeant First Class Floyd E. Lake, 43, of St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, who was assigned to the Virgin Islands Army National Guard, Christiansted, U.S. Virgin Islands.

Corporal Victor M. Langarica, 29, of Decatur, Georgia, who was assigned to the 86th Signal Battalion, Fort Huachuca, Arizona.

Captain Sean E. Lyerly, 31, of Pflugerville, Texas., who was assigned to the Texas Army National Guard’s 36th Combat Aviation Brigade, 36th Infantry Division, Austin, Texas.

Captain Michael V. Taylor, 40, of North Little Rock, Arkansas, who was assigned to the Arkansas Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 185th Aviation Regiment (Air Assault), 77th Aviation Brigade, Camp Robinson, Arkansas.

First Sergeant William T. Warren, 48, of North Little Rock, Arkansas, who was assigned to the Arkansas Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 185th Aviation Regiment (Air Assault), 77th Aviation Brigade, Camp Robinson, Arkansas.

The incident is under investigation.

FORT HUACHUCA, ARIZONA — The 11th Signal Brigade lost its first soldier in Iraq when an Army helicopter crashed on Saturday.

To the Army buddies of Corporal Victor M. Langarica, a wheeled-vehicle mechanic with Bravo Company of the 86th Signal Battalion, the loss was akin to the death of a family member. Of those who knew the soldier, he was more than just a guy who wore a uniform like theirs.

Langarica, 29, was remembered as a person who loved to crack jokes and whose high-octave laugh was infectious.

But more important to the likes of 1st Lt. Robert Ashman, Sgt. 1st Class David Mendoza, Staff Sgt. Stephanie Brown, Spc. Charlie Harris and Spc. Ashlee Kerrigan, Langarica was first and foremost a dedicated soldier who was always willing to help.

The five shared their feelings Wednesday as the news became public.

Those who serve in the Army consider such service as an extension of their family.

For Harris, Langarica was more like a brother, someone he could relax with, talk to or commensurate with when it was needed.

“He was a guy I could depend on,” Harris said.

That dependence was not just soldier to soldier, but as individuals who shared private thoughts. One could be a sounding board for the other.

“Soldiers cry,” Harris said, noting Langarica was not afraid to share his emotions, his fears, his love of family and his future desires.

Harris, too, was unafraid to show emotions.

Two small streams of tears flowed down his left cheek. With a slight brush, Harris wiped the tears away. Others in 1st Sgt. Louis Sueing’s office on Wednesday would do the same.

The official notice of Langarica’s death was announced by the Department of Defense on Wednesday.

Although some in the unit knew about it prior to then, Harris learned of his friend’s demise on Wednesday.

Langarica was on a helicopter when it went down northeast of Baghdad. The ranks of the dozen who were killed in the crash ranged from corporal to colonel.

The crash is still under investigation. But according to the units those killed served with, it appears they were being transported by the Army’s airborne taxi service. There have been claims by Iraqi insurgents they shot the UH-60 Black Hawk down, and the U.S. military has not denied that possibility.

Langarica, who hails from Georgia, is the first 11th Signal Brigade soldier to die while deployed to a global hot spot. Since 1992, the brigade has deployed to Somalia, Haiti, East Timor, Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as other places.

The 86th Signal Battalion is due back later this year, while the rest of the brigade is then scheduled to deploy.

“When is this nonsense going to stop?” Harris asked.

It wasn’t that he was expressing an anti-war sentiment. Langarica’s death is the fourth of Harris’ friends — three from other units — who have died in Iraq.

Soldiers have a duty to do and they know it and do it, Harris said.

A burly man, he said it is generally hard for him to make friends, but it wasn’t when it came to Langarica.

Being drawn in by the corporal, a rank he achieved while serving in Iraq, was easy for the others, too.

Even Ashman, the young officer, said the soldier was a person others wanted to emulate.

Langarica was not on the initial orders to go when it was announced the 86th was to deploy to Iraq, the lieutenant said.

After one of the many formations the Army is noted for, the soldier told the company commander that he wanted to deploy to Iraq to be with the unit and the commander, Ashman said.

Saying he heard the conversation, the lieutenant said he hopes one day to have an enlisted soldier to have similar respect for him.

“He actually re-enlisted to go to Iraq,” Ashman said. “He was a mission-focused man. It was always the mission.”

While most of the battalion deployed in August, it took Langarica until October to make it over to Iraq. His friends said they would bet he hit the ground running.

Mendoza said he first got to know the soldier while talking with him about a family issue he was having. Langarica was once married and has two children, a son and a daughter.

“We became good friends,” Mendoza said.

Brown initially got to know Langarica as a neighbor. The two of them shared a fence that separated their back yards.

Many times they would talk over the fence, much like the next-door neighbor in the TV sitcom “Home Improvement,” Brown said as she put one of her hands across her face as a make believe fence.

“What I’m going to miss about him will be his smile, his laugh,” she said.

Kerrigan said she dated Langarica for a short time. Even though it didn’t get serious, a friendship developed that was equally important.

“And he could dance,” she added.

Brown laughed as she remembered Langarica trying to teach another soldier to dance, which probably was one of his few failures.

Harris said Langarica had a body-builder’s torso, a tiny waist and small legs and big feet.

Watching him dance on those small legs and big feet was funny, he said, wiping away tears of a joyful memory.

Sueing said it is important for him to listen to Langarica’s friends talk about the soldier. The information will be used in a eulogy he will deliver at the soldier’s funeral in Georgia, once his body is returned and taken home to his mother in Decatur.

The first sergeant said he didn’t know Langarica well, so it is important for him to get to know the soldier through people such as the solder’s friends.

“I’m truly getting to see a picture of him through these soldiers,” Sueing said.

There will be a memorial service for Langarica at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Main Post Chapel.

Harris said there are many stories about his friend, a soldier who was more than a battle buddy, which today’s Army likes to tout when it comes to soldier teams.

As Harris recovered from surgery, Langarica ensured he had food and soda to drink.

Saying Langarica was like a mother hen, Harris said that when he was recuperating Langarica occasionally got on his nerves.

But then he closed his eyes as his mind went to other memories where Langarica was there to support him and others.

“I will always remember his high-octave laugh, his friendship,” Harris said.

Whenever his friend was around the motor pool was always laughing, Harris said.

There was plenty of brotherly banter, with Harris always joking about Langarica’s bushy eyebrows, which he was always plucking.

Another time the soldier proudly showed off a tattoo, which he exclaimed was the only one like it in the area. But at a party, three other men showed up with the exact same design, which did not sit well with him.

Langarica’s way to handle it was to tell the others whenever he approached they had to pull their shirt sleeves down to cover their tattoos, as he got the design first.

With Langarica being a physically strong soldier, Harris said he knows the other complied.

If Langarica’s personality could be simply encapsulated, those who spoke about him agreed it would be: “He was a great soldier, great friend and great father.”

To them, he was family, as they were to him.

Interment ceremony set for 12 killed in crash

4 October 2007

Twelve soldiers who were killed on January 20, 2007, when their UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crashed in Baghdad will be honored during a group interment at Arlington National Cemetery.

The ceremony will begin at 9 a.m. October 12, 2007.

The soldiers, who belonged to a number of active Army and Army National Guard units, are: Colonel Brian D. Allgood, 46, of Okla. Colonel Paul M. Kelly, 45, of Stafford, Virginia, Lieuetnant Colonel David C. Canegata III, 50, of St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, Captain Michael V. Taylor, 40, of North Little Rock, Arkansas, Captain Sean E. Lyerly, 31, of Pflugerville, Texas, Command Sergeant Major Marilyn L. Gabbard, 46, of Polk City, Iowa, Command Sergeant Major Roger W. Haller, 49, of Davidsonville, Maryland, First Sergeant William T. Warren, 48, of North Little Rock, Arkansas, Sergeant First Class Floyd E. Lake Sr., 43, of St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Sergeant First Class Class John G. Brown, 43, of Little Rock, Arkansas, Staff Sergeant Darryl D. Booker, 37, of Midlothian, Virginia, and Corporal Victor M. Langarica, 29, of Decatur, Georgia.

After the ceremony, Lieutenant General Clyde Vaughn, director of the Army National Guard, will host a reception for all 12 families at the Army Guard's Readiness Center in Arlington, Virginia.

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