Friday, March 30, 2007

Nick Lightner remembered

U.S. Army Sergeant Nicholas J. Lightner, 29, of Newport was wounded March 15 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his unit while supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom on combat patrol in Baghdad, Iraq.

Of the members in his unit, Lightner and one other soldier survived the attack; the other soldier, however, died shortly after at a hospital in Germany. Lightner was transported stateside to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., where he died on Wednesday, March 21.

Lightner, a field medic, was assigned to the 1st Squadron, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division deployed from Fort Hood, Texas, to Rustamiyah, Iraq.

He joined the Army nearly four years ago and had been stationed in Iraq for the past four to five months.

Lightner was born Feb. 17, 1978 in Portland to Cynthia May and William “Bill” Lightner. He was a 1996 graduate of Toledo High School.

He worked for Marcia and Pat Seibel, proprietors of PMK Distributing in Toledo, for many years.

“He was one of the best human beings I've ever known,” Marcia told the News-Times. “Our whole family loved him and we're so proud to have known him. He would do anything for anyone.”

She commented on Lightner's strong work ethic and initiative. “When we first met him, he was in his early teens, and here this boy came riding up to our plant one day and wanted to know if we had a job for him. We found out he lived a couple of miles away - at least - and had gotten on his bike and ridden over to try and get a job. Of course we wanted to help any kid who wants to work, and we said sure - and he turned out to be the finest employee anyone could ever ask for, and more.”

Lightner later resided in Newport, where he served as a member of the volunteer fire department. He was an outdoorsman and enjoyed hiking, mountain biking, and fishing as well as sports, especially wrestling.

He was known for his community-minded spirit.

He and longtime girlfriend Ginger Warfield, 24, were engaged to be married.

“He was a caring, loving person all the time,” Marcia said. “He put himself behind and others ahead, always.”

Marcia and Pat's son, Kris Seibel, was among those who kept in fairly close contact with Lightner during his tour in Iraq. Kris works at a television station in Eugene “and all the people who work there got together and started sending things to Nick and the guys in his company, because they found out there were so many things they couldn't get there - simple things like a book to read,” Marcia said. “They ended up shipping, I believe it was 20 big boxes of stuff for Nick and his company. Simple things like enough soap, everyday ordinary things we take for granted.

“But Nick never complained at all,” she said. “He just went without. That's just the way he was.”

Lightner's father Bill recalled his son “was always helping people, that was his calling. He wanted to be a medic and he didn't want to do much of anything else,” he told the News-Times. “It was really important to him. Right after 9/11 he decided he had to do something and make a difference some way - so that's what he did.”

Lightner's military decorations include the Purple Heart, Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and the Parachutists Badge and Weapons Qualifications Badge. He also received his Expert rifle weapons bar.

Posthumous decorations include the Bronze Star Medal and the Combat Medical Badge.

Lightner's family flew to Washington, D.C., last week and accompanied his casket home to Oregon.

From the Newport News

Related Link:
Nicholas J. Lightner dies of injuries from I.E.D.