Thursday, June 14, 2007

Cory M. Endlich dies 'of wounds suffered from enemy small arms fire'

He was always there for others.

He was there for the clean-up after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans.

Most recently, he was in Iraq for the troop surge – helping to secure a fledgling democracy.

That’s where 23-year-old Army Infantry Sgt. Cory Endlich, a 2003 Washington High grad, lost his life.

A single bullet struck him down while he was on a scouting patrol Saturday for a forward observation base about 20 miles northwest of Baghdad.

Endlich just left from Fort Lewis, Wash., on April 9.

“The Army was his passion,” said Cathi Endlich, his mother. “That’s what he wanted to do all of his life. He wanted to serve his country.”

And he believed in his mission and his county’s mission, said his father Randy Endlich.

“He felt the war was justified and wanted to be there,” he said. “I am very proud of him and the job he was doing. He was a giver. He would do anything for just about anybody.

“Anyone would be proud to call him a son. (No one) knows how much he will be missed.”

Cory’s giving nature was revealed in a story told by his sister-in-law Stephanie, who is married to his older brother, Kenny, 25.

“Every time he came home on leave, he would help us with a project,” she said. “One year, it was the roof; one year it was the patio. He would say, ‘What have you guys got for me this year?’

“He was always up for an adventure. He always had to be doing something.”

Brother Kenny was too torn up to talk so Cathi continued on with the story.

“He would always say ‘I hope they don’t have another project.’” she said, knowing that was a ruse. “But after one day of sitting around the house, he would get bored and head out to help on the project.”

Before joining the Army, Cory was in the Massillon Tiger Swing Band and played the tuba. He also ran cross country for two years at WHS.

He and his younger brother, Kevin, 21, both worked at the Lincoln Way West Dairy Queen and made a lot of friends there.

Early Sunday morning, DQ owner Jeanette Harig changed the marquee to honor Cory.

“We found out Saturday,” she said. “We were up half the night trying to figure out what to put on the sign. He and his brother both worked here from the time they were 16. Cory was here until he was 19 – when he left for boot camp.

“Cory was fun. He always had fun flipping burgers and plotting with his brother.”

Harig said for a few years both Cory and Kevin worked there together.

“They were ornery,” she continued. “You know how boys are – but we had fun, we always had fun. Every time he came home on leave, he came to see us. It won’t be the same. We’re going to miss him.”

Kevin, who works as an Army recruiter in Barberton, said his relationship with Cory went beyond brotherhood – they were best friends.

“We would make up crazy stories at work and at school and see who would believe us – then we would tease them about it,” he said. “Cory was my best friend. It didn’t matter where we were or what we were doing, we could pick up the phone and call one another and talk about anything that was on our minds.”

Kevin said it was Cory who got him to join the Army.

When Cory first signed up, it was with the Airborne unit of the infantry.

“When he was younger, he would always climb up the tree in the backyard and hide from me,” Cathi said. “He was a great kid. He may not have been the best at everything he did, but he always tried his hardest. We butted heads once in a while – I think that is because we are so much alike. But he would always remember me when he wasn’t home and would call on special occasions like on my birthday or Mother’s Day.

“I always told him to be careful and he always told me he loved me.”

From the Independent