Friday, March 09, 2007

Robert M. Stanley dies of injuries from I.E.D.

FREDERICKSBURG -- Staff Sgt. Robert Stanley had served in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and was on his third combat tour when he died in a bomb blast north of Baghdad on Monday.

He was one of two Virginia soldiers who died in the past week in Iraq, the Department of Defense announced.

Stanley was a Spotsylvania County native. A member of the 82nd Airborne Division, he had been among the first troops to land in Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 attacks, his father said yesterday.

"He was a hero in everyone's eyes but his own," said Robert Stanley, who owns Shannon Airport in Spotsylvania.

The younger Stanley, a 27-year- old paratrooper, was among nine soldiers killed in bombings north of Baghdad on what was the deadliest day for U.S. soldiers since the security crackdown in the Iraqi capital started about three weeks ago.

Robert Stanley said he last spoke with his son about a week ago. "He said the intensity of things was increasing. Their patrols were getting more intense, more frequent. The bad guys, their weapons, were getting more advanced," he said.

Stanley attended Fredericksburg Christian School until ninth grade. Andra Foss, who founded the school with her husband, remembered Stanley as "a fine young man."

"I remember Robbie having a lot of friends," she said.

Stanley graduated from Spotsylvania High School, where he ran track and played football, and joined the Army in October 1999. He grew up around the airport, working there as a teenager and learning to fly an airplane.

"He only had two things in his life that he ever wanted to be -- a solider or a policeman," his father said.

He was assigned to the 82nd Airborne's 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. Robert Stanley said his son, who had been married about five years, had reservations about re-enlisting but did so anyway.

"He was a little hesitant because he wanted to start a family. He didn't want to have kids and be gone for 12 to 18 months," he said.

His most recent tour began in July and was due to end in August, though his father expected his stay would have been extended.

Stanley leaves behind a wife, Jayme, of Fayetteville, N.C.; his parents; and a sister. Funeral arrangements were incomplete, though his father said Stanley would be buried with full military honors in the Fredericksburg area.

"He liked what he was doing. He thought he could make a difference," his father said. "He didn't like war, but he thought he was helping the people over there."

From the Dispatch