Yihjyh Lang Chen – Sergeant, United States Army

NEWS RELEASE from the United States Department of Defense
No. 273-04
Apr 07, 2004

DoD Identifies Army Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of eight soldiers supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died on April 4, 2004, in Baghdad, Iraq, when their units were attacked with rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire. Eight soldiers were assigned to two units at Fort Hood, Texas, while one soldier was assigned in Germany.  Killed were:

Sergeant Michael W. Mitchell, 25, of Porterville, California, from the Army’s 2nd Battalion, 37th Armor Regiment, 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division, Ray Barracks, Friedberg, Germany.

Soldiers killed from the Army’s 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas were:

Sergeant Yihjyh L. Chen, 31, of Saipan, Marianas Protectorate.
Spcialist Robert R. Arsiaga, 25, of San Antonio, Texas.
Specialist Stephen D. Hiller, 25, of Opelika, Alabama
Specialist Ahmed A. Cason, 24, of McCalla, Alabama
Specialist Israel Garza, 25, of Lubbock, Texas.

Soldiers killed from the Army’s 1st Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas were:

Corporal Forest J. Jostes, 22, of Albion, Illinois
Specialist Casey Sheehan, 24, of Vacaville, California

The incident is under investigation.

For further information related to this release, contact Army Public Affairs at (703) 692-2000.

Two Who Died Days Apart in Iraq Honored at Arlington
Lieutenant Praised as Natural Leader; Sergeant Awarded Bronze Star

By Elaine Rivera
Courtesy of the Washington Post
Saturday, April 24, 2004

Two servicemen who were killed two days apart in Iraq — a Marine officer who was trying to help his injured men and an Army Sergeant who died with seven other soldiers in an attack — were laid to rest yesterday in Arlington National Cemetery.

On a warm spring day under a bright sun, family and friends of Marine Second Lieutenant John T. Wroblewski and Army Sgt. Yihjyh L. Chen came to honor the slain servicemen.

Wroblewski, 25, of Oak Ridge, New Jersey, received a full honors funeral. “The President’s Own” U.S. Marine Band and a marching element of the U.S. Marine Corps Ceremonial and Guard Company preceded the caisson carrying the casket. The mournful notes of taps, played by a bugler, and the sound of the three-round volleys from a seven-man firing party filled the air.

Wroblewski’s family, including his wife, Joanna, and his parents, John and Shawn Wroblewski, were at his graveside. Captain Martin Lewis presented his wife with the American flag.

Wroblewski was killed April 6, 2004, when he was shot in the face while aiding his men in Al Anbar Province, Joanna Wroblewski said. She said her husband, who was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, 1st Marine Division, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force from Camp Pendleton, California, was leading a convoy to help other Marines under fire. Their vehicle came under fire, and some of Wroblewski’s men fell to the ground after being shot.

“He jumped down to be with them, he was holding their hands and calling the medics” when he was mortally wounded, she said. As he was being transported, he gave a thumbs up to his men before he died, she said.

“His Marines were like his sons,” she said. “When they told me he died, I knew he had gone down as a hero.”

She said her husband was beloved by everyone who knew him.

“He was a natural born leader,” she said. “I would have followed him through fire.”

John Wroblewski, the slain Marine’s father, said his oldest son was resolute about joining the military.

“When God made him, he stamped ‘Marine’ on his forehead,” said John Wroblewski, who has three younger sons. “He was a fine young man with strong core values. He loved God, he loved his wife, he loved his family, he loved his country and he loved the U.S. Marine Corps.”

He described his son as generous and committed to his men. He limited his telephone conversations with his family while in Iraq, the elder Wroblewski said, because he wanted to ensure that all of the Marines assigned to him were able to call home first.

“He let the guys use the phone,” Wroblewski said. “It was first the men who had children and went on down like that.”

He said he recently received a letter from his son in which he described morale as high.

“He sounded very upbeat,” Wroblewski said. “He said the Iraqis would thank him and be very appreciative. We don’t hear about that.”

Earlier in the day, graveside services were held for Chen, 31, of U.S. Army’s 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division from Fort Hood, Texas, who was one of eight soldiers killed April 4 in Baghdad when their units were attacked with rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire, according to the Department of Defense.

Chen was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star.

Chen, of Saipan, Marianas Protectorate, was given a standard honors funeral. As a U.S. Army firing party fired three volleys, soldiers held an American flag over his casket. The flag was later presented to his parents, Cheng-Pin and Yu Mei Chen, along with his medals. A Buddhist monk chanted over the casket. Near the end of the service, a small butterfly appeared and flew by.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

CNMI war hero laid to rest at Arlington

Army Sergeant Yihjyh “Eddie” Chen, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands’ first casualty in the war in Iraq, was buried Friday at the Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. The funeral was attended by Chen’s parents, who live on Guam, and more than 60 other people from Guam and Saipan and members of the Armed Services. Chen, who was with the 1st Cavalry Division out of Fort Hood, Texas, was one of eight soldiers killed during an attack in Sadr City, Iraq on April 4, 2004.


Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Saipan residents recall good memories of fallen soldier

By P.J. Borja
For Pacific Daily News

Saipan friends and former classmates of Army Sergeant Yihjyh “Eddie” Chen remember the Army Sergeant who was killed in Iraq on April 4, 2004. Chen will be buried April 23 in Arlington National Cemetery in the Washington, D.C., area.

SAIPAN — Army Sergeant Yihjyh “Eddie” Chen lived a life that had its twists and turns, transitions from one place to another, and, tragically, an end far away from home on a battleground in Iraq.

The 31-year-old Chen was killed in Sadr City, Iraq, on April 4, 2004. An immigrant from Taiwan with the rest of his family, Chen grew up in Saipan, graduated with the Marianas High School Class of 1990 and became a police officer of the Northern Marianas Department of Public Safety in Saipan.

His death came as a sorrowful shock to his fellow graduates of Marianas High’s Class of 1990 who remember him as hard-working and helpful. Friends and former classmates of Chen held a memorial service here recently.

“He was a nice guy, shy,” said Carol Peter-Hosono, who was vice president of the 1990 class at Marianas High.

“He wasn’t outgoing that much, but he didn’t stand in the corner and watch the world, either. He would join in whatever we were doing,” said Peter-Hosono.

Former classmate Ron Olopai remembered the same quality.

“He was shy, but when the boys came around, he would join in. And all of a sudden, he’s laughing, making jokes,” Olopai said. “He was one of us, one of the guys. It was just a real shock.”

Chen moved to the Northern Marianas when his parents left their native Taiwan. In Saipan, his family operated a gas station in Koblerville village, where Chen was often seen helping around the business.

“I was his neighbor, and we would see each other at school,” said former classmate Mary Ann Celis, “but I always remember Eddie at the gas station, just helping his parents.”

For Bob Taguchi, the words in recalling Chen came punctuated by moments of silence. Chen was his best friend when they were growing up in Saipan.

“He was bright, smart. … We were in the (National Honor Society) together. … The news about Eddie came and … it was traumatic.”

Taguchi, who served in the Navy during the first Gulf War, said that Chen fulfilled a dream that he had always kept during their school years. “Eddie always wanted to join the military, and he did, after serving for five or six years with DPS. He went to Guam, I think, and joined up.”

Saipan police officer Andrea Ozawa knew Chen while he was a police officer. Because she is bilingual like Chen — Chen in Chinese, Ozawa in Japanese — Ozawa said that Chen helped her on procedures whenever she assisted detectives on cases.

Ozawa said that fellow officers are remembering Chen fondly. “Everyone has something good to say, that he was helpful, always willing to give a hand. Just knowing him, and that he was also a former police officer — it just makes it all that much closer to home.”

Ozawa said that officers also recall Chen’s desire to serve, to be a good citizen.

“He served the people here. He served the American people. He was real proud to be part of and serve America,” she said.

For Marciano K. Camacho, another DPS employee, the loss of Chen was difficult because the two had just exchanged e-mails in late March.

“He was telling me that he was in Iraq already, and he gave me an address so I could send things from Saipan to him.”

Camacho, who was born with neural-tube defect spina bifida and uses a wheelchair, said Chen was energetic, “always willing and always ready to help. And I saw that a lot because Eddie would come and get me in the morning and then drop me back home at night.”

The two also would go out drinking, watch movies and just hang out with friends from the department and others.

“That’s the thing about Eddie. He never separated himself from people because they were this, or they were that,” Camacho said. “He liked them because of who they were –they were just people to him, and he was … well, he was just Eddie, always Eddie. He was what I would call a true friend.

“And now, we, Saipan, lose not only a good friend, but a good person.”

Sergeant Chen will be buried April 23, 2004, in Arlington National Cemetery in the Washington, D.C., area. Among the people there will be Taguchi.

“I will be there for him,” he said.

CNMI’s first casualty

Chen killed in April 4 attack in Sadr City, Iraq
By Steve Limtiaco
Courtesy of the Pacific Daily News

Grieving parents: Yu Mei Chen, 71, left, holds a picture of her son, Army Sergeant Yihjyh “Eddie” Lang Chen, as her husband, Cheng Pin Chen, 71, is overcome by emotion in their Dededo apartment yesterday afternoon. Their son was among eight U.S. soldiers killed by small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades April 4, 2004, during a riot in a Shiite neighborhood in Baghdad.

Yihjyh “Eddie” Lang Chen

Army Sergeant Yihjyh “Eddie” Lang Chen, 31, was killed in Iraq April 4, 2004. His parents, who live on Guam, are scheduled to leave for Chen’s burial at Arlington National Cemetery on April 23, 2004.

A 31-year-old U.S. Army sergeant from Saipan, whose parents live on Guam, was killed in Iraq April 4, 2004, when his unit was attacked by rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire. He died less than a month after arriving in Iraq.

Yihjyh “Eddie” Lang Chen moved from Taiwan to Saipan as a teenager, where his mother opened a gas station, his parents said yesterday.

He graduated from high school on Saipan and worked as a police officer there for more than five years before joining the Army in January 2000.

Eddie Chen married on Saipan, but later divorced. He does not have any children, his mother said.

“Who killed my son?” Dededo resident Yu Mei Chen, 71, asked yesterday afternoon, two days after a military representative met her at her front door to tell her that her son was dead. His parents, who speak in broken English, said they know little about what happened.

Eddie Chen, who was with the 1st Cavalry Division out of Fort Hood, Texas, was one of eight soldiers killed during an attack in Baghdad, said Captain John Guerrero, public information officer for the Guam Army National Guard.

The Associated Press reported that eight U.S. soldiers were killed that day during a riot in Sadr City, which is Baghdad’s largest Shiite neighborhood.

Black-garbed Shiite militiamen fired from rooftops and from behind buildings, killing the troops, according to the Associated Press.

Eddie Chen was an infantryman on a Bradley fighting vehicle, according to U.S. military locator information on the Internet.

Eddie Chen was not the first in his family to serve in Iraq.

His younger brother, who also is a Sergeant in the U.S. Army, served in Iraq for six months last year, said their father, 71-year-old Cheng Pin Chen. The family has two other sons and a daughter.

Yu Mei Chen said her son, Eddie, joined the military, “because the Army say they give him school.”

He earned his bachelor’s degree, she said, and planned to go to law school after leaving the military this year.

She said she cannot understand why her son still was in the Army when his enlistment was supposed to end this past January. She is angry about it.

Eddie Chen was sent to Iraq March 11, 2004, and was to be there a year.

“If the government no lying, my son no dying,” she said.

The Chens are struggling financially, growing and selling eggplants and hot peppers to sell to supermarkets. Their apartment is sparsely furnished, with a few chairs and tables they picked up second-hand.

Yu Mei Chen said she lost her gas station and most of her possessions in Saipan and she and her husband moved to Guam about 10 years ago.

Times were worse, but Eddie helped them get green cards so they could work, his mother said.

“Eddie said, ‘I’ll come back. I’ll help you. I’ll make business for you,'” his mother said while crying. “I want my son to come. My son not come.”

Eddie Chen is scheduled to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Va., on April 23. His parents are scheduled to leave Guam April 19, 2004, for the burial.

“I want to see his face,” his mother said.


  • DATE OF BIRTH: 07/07/1972
  • DATE OF DEATH: 04/04/2004

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