Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Christopher S. Kiernan dies 'wounds suffered when his unit came in contact with enemy forces using small arms fire during combat patrol operations'

Christopher Kiernan, who grew up in Virginia, became one of those sergeants who keep the Army going, a tank commander who cared about what he did and the men he did it with.

"He loved his job," his mother-in-law, Joy East, said last night from the house in Texas where the sergeant lived with his wife when he was home from the war zone. "He loved it. He loved all the men that worked with him."

On Sunday, Staff Sgt. Christopher S. Kiernan, 37, whose home town was listed as Virginia Beach, died in Baghdad of wounds inflicted by small-arms fire when his unit came in contact with the enemy during combat patrol, the Defense Department announced.

A member of the 5th Cavalry Regiment of the 1st Cavalry Division, based at Fort Hood in Texas, he had served in Bosnia and the Persian Gulf War and was on his second deployment to Iraq, family members said.

"He thought he was making a better life for the Iraqi people," said his wife, Donna.

She said a sniper had shot her husband in the side, in a spot unprotected by body armor.

Kiernan joined the Army in 1990 and was "the kind of soldier who always looked out for the younger soldiers and made sure that they were trained well and always knew what they were doing," his wife said.

When fellow troops at Fort Hood had no family to go home to on special occasions, she said, "we took them in and helped them and made them part of our family."

Kiernan also made several visits to Louisiana to help repair hurricane damage, she said.

"He'd help anybody in need," said a former neighbor of Kiernan's in Virginia Beach. "No matter what it was, day or night, he was there for you."

Kiernan was "just beloved by all," the former neighbor said.

"He was a phenomenal guy," said another man who lives in Virginia Beach, near Kiernan's parents, Margaret and John Kiernan. Survivors also include a brother and a sister.

Donna Kiernan said the couple married in December 2001. "When we were together," she said, "we had the best of times . . . full of laughter."

She said the couple planned to adopt a child, buy land and build a house.

"He was going to retire in December 2008," she said. "And now he's gone."

From the Washington Post