Saturday, March 17, 2007

Brian L. Chevalier dies of injuries from I.E.D.

A Stryker brigade soldier killed in Iraq on Wednesday was a 21-year-old infantryman from Athens, Ga.

The Pentagon reported Friday that Cpl. Brian L. Chevalier was killed when his armored Stryker vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device in the town of Mufrek, near Baqouba, about 35 miles north of Baghdad.

Chevalier was assigned to the 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, part of the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. He joined the Army in August 2005, arrived at Fort Lewis the following January, and was making his first deployment to Iraq.

Chevalier was the 14th member of his brigade to be killed since it deployed to Iraq last summer.

His battalion moved north from Baghdad earlier this week in an effort by U.S. commanders to combat increased insurgent activity outside the capital.

Officials said Chevalier left behind a 5-year-old daughter.

His father told an Ohio newspaper Thursday that Chevalier left Ohio when he was 6, living in Florida, Tennessee, Arkansas and Georgia with his mother, June Sager, who resides in Athens. Sager declined to comment Friday.

Chevalier “lived with his mom his whole life, but I remember him as a good kid; kind-hearted, fun-spirited and smart as a whip,” his father, Rick Chevalier, told the Times Record of Zanesville, where the soldier once lived.

“He learned to walk early, talk early, and got his first bicycle at 1 year old,” his father told the Times Record. “He got good grades and was never in trouble. He joined the Army on his own as something he wanted to do. He wanted to make something of his life. He defended his country, and it’s too bad it had to happen this way.”

Chevalier recently re-enlisted to serve six more years in the Army.

Capt. Matt James, Chevalier’s former company commander, said the soldier showed uncommon maturity.

Last spring, Chevalier’s squad was ordered to the Fort Lewis railhead to help recover Stryker vehicles being shipped from California after a training exercise, James recalled Friday.

But Chevalier’s sergeant told him and the other soldiers to skip the detail, that nobody would know if they didn’t show up. Chevalier went to the railhead anyway. When the rest of his squad was found out, the word went around that Chevalier could be counted on to follow through.

“He’d been there, what, like three months, and here he’s making a decision in front of all his peers and his NCO to do the right thing,” said James, who’s home on leave. NCO stands for noncommissioned officer.

From the Tribune