Sunday, June 10, 2007

Caleb P. Christopher dies 'of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle'

Wedding bells were supposed to ring for Sgt. Caleb Christopher when he returned June 1 from his tour of duty in Iraq.

Instead, the 25-year-old Chandler soldier opted to stay in Iraq until next week because he was scheduled to go before a promotion board. Two days into the extended tour, Christopher was hit and killed by an improvised explosive device.

“He was supposed to come home next Thursday,” said his fiancee, Rebecca Cadro. “We were going to go to Florida for some R & R.”

Still wearing her engagement ring on Friday, she remembered Christopher as a gentle soul.

“He looked very intimidating most of the time when he was in his normal attire walking around,” she said. “But to me it was a completely different story.”

Cadro said Christopher called her the day before he died.

“He was just about to take a shower and go to sleep,” she said. “He just wanted to tell me he loved me, that he was OK for that one day.”

She said the last thing Christopher always said before hanging up was “I love you always and forever.”

“I think he feels that way about all of us,” Cadro said. “And we feel the same way back.”

Christopher’s family said Friday that one of the reasons he joined the Army in May 2002 was because of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

“Caleb had always thought things out very methodically before he presented it to us,” said his father, Edward. “And so it was really hard to argue with his decisions, and so we just accepted him. When he decided to join the service, we accepted it.”

The father said he will remember his son “as a true soldier” fighting for freedom.

Christopher’s sister, Sarah, said her brother believed strongly in the war effort.

“Caleb desired for the American troops to finish what was started in Iraq,” she said. “He believed that there was no such thing as quitting.”

That courage was recognized on the battlefield, where Christopher earned six medals during three tours of duty in the Middle East.

Christopher was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division out of Fort Hood, Texas.

Public services will be Tuesday in north Phoenix and Gilbert.

From the East Valley Tribune