Saturday, March 24, 2007

Robert Carr remembered by teachers

CHAMPION — Champion High School fell silent when Anthony Carsone, assistant principal, announced 2002 graduate and Army Sgt. Robert Carr had died in Iraq.

Carsone told the student body over the loudspeakers Wednesday morning. "It was a quiet day," he said. "You could have heard a pin drop after I made the announcement."

High school government teacher Luanne Hite said the students were in shock. Most did not personally know Carr, but many know his sister, Rachel Carr, and his half sister, Brittany Wortman, both sophomores.

The reality that someone they knew, or someone from their hometown, had been killed in war was hard to believe. An explosive had detonated beneath his armored vehicle.

"They heard about [Iraq combat deaths] on the news or whatever, but they never imagined it would happen to someone in Champion. They were dumbstruck," Hite said.

The feelings were especially hard for Hite. Carr was one of her students in 2001, but the two had a deeper bond, she said.

"I always liked Rob. He was a real personable kid. He was good in class, and I can only remember good things about him," she said. "He would drop by sometimes during my planning period. He would come down and talk, just about anything."

Last year, Carr stopped in to visit Carsone, Hite and a few others, dressed in uniform, and was a pretty impressive sight, Carsone said.

Set sights on military

Carr's going into the military after graduation was hardly a surprise. He had made up his mind to enlist in the Army early in his senior year, Carsone said, and he frequently wore an Army shirt to school. Deciding on the Army seemed to give Carr a great deal of purpose throughout that year, Carsone noted.

Hite, Carsone and Kelly Boyle, the Champion police officer who serves as school resource officer, agreed that Carr seemed well-suited for his career field.

"You'd want him watching your back. No doubt about that," Hite said.

Carr was quick to run errands for her when she asked. "You could count on him," she said, because he would never take advantage by wandering off.

Carr also had been a positive influence and big-brother figure to a friend who'd lost his father, she recalled.

Carsone and Boyle also remembered Carr's determination and selflessness as an athlete on the football and track teams.

"He was the kind of guy you wanted on your team," Carsone said, noting his ability as a special teams player his junior year and his willingness to take on any job: "He's going to do it all without a complaint."

Supported his team

Carsone said one of the photographs in Carr's senior yearbook is illustrative of his attitude. It showed him on crutches, supporting his teammates during a football game. Carr suffered a knee injury that kept him out of action most of his senior year.

"He could have been up in the stands or something, but he wanted to be there supporting his team," Carsone said.

Hite said she believes many of the teenagers she talks to each day about U.S. government and the war in Iraq don't have a realistic view of serving in a war zone — in part because it has been so many years since someone they know has died in a military conflict.

"In John Wayne movies, they see him standing up and walking through lots of bullets, and none of them hit," she said. "In reality, they are crawling on the ground."

Learning about what happened to Carr has already made many students more aware, Hite said. "The reality of what war is has really set in."

From the Vindicator

Related Link:
Robert M. Carr dies of injuries from I.E.D.