Saturday, June 09, 2007

Charles Hester remembered by comrades

Fort Lewis mourned another of its fallen soldiers on what would have been his 24th birthday.

Family members, fellow soldiers and friends of Pfc. Charles B. Hester paid their respects in a memorial ceremony Thursday.

Hester was remembered as a devoted husband and father, an accomplished musician and a top-notch Stryker driver. Fellow soldiers said he found ways to stay up even in tough situations.

The native of Cataldo, Idaho, was killed May 26 in Baghdad when his truck was hit by a bomb. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment, a unit of the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.

Hester was an avid guitar player and once made the pilgrimage to Jimi Hendrix’s grave in Renton, where he buried a guitar pick.

“Hester loved the oldies,” recalled his former squad leader, Staff Sgt. Chess Johnson. “I could never come up with a song that he couldn’t come up with the lyrics, perfectly.”

And when the boys in the back of the Stryker mangled a tune, “he was never shy about correcting us. His voice would come over the squawk box and tell us how to sing the song.

“Hester will be missed by all of us in his squad, not only for the great and competent Stryker driver that he was, but for the quiet, professional, always smiling, great man we came to love and adore,” Johnson said.

Thursday’s ceremony was as emotional as any of the others the post has had to convene over the past few weeks as it has endured its greatest number of casualties of the Iraq war.

Hester’s widow, Roxanne, her parents, and his parents and step-parents cried quietly in the front row. His daughter, 3-year-old Elizabeth, fidgeted in the aisle and looked around.

Lt. Col. Chris Cieply, a 3rd Brigade chaplain, said family members told him Hester was crying so hard in the delivery room when Elizabeth was born, he couldn’t see to cut the umbilical cord.

“She had her daddy wrapped around her little finger,” Cieply said. “He wanted to come home and have more babies and wanted them all to be girls.”

Cieply said Roxanne and Charles met in the Job Corps. Hester joined the Army in 2004 to provide for his young family.

From Iraq, he would go online to chat with his wife after every mission.

The chaplain said Roxanne told him, “‘The last thing he told me was I was his world, he’d love me forever, and without me and Elizabeth he would be nothing.’”

From the News Tribune

Related Link:
Charles B. Hester dies 'of wounds suffered when the vehicle he was in struck an improvised explosive device'