Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Jared (William J.) Crouch dies 'of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle'

A Zachary native who joined the Army his senior year in high school because “he wanted to be in the thick of things” was killed Saturday in Iraq by a roadside bomb, his family said.

Jared Crouch, 21, a cavalry scout with a Stryker brigade out of Fort Lewis, Wash., had only been stationed in Iraq for a little more than a month, his mother, Kathy Rushing, said.

She had few details Sunday on his death, but she said casualty assistance soldiers from Fort Polk told her after they knocked on her door Saturday night that he had been killed by a bomb while on patrol.

At least eight soldiers were killed in various conflicts Saturday, but the Department of Defense had not released the names of the soldiers Sunday.

Kathy Rushing said her younger son, John Crouch, a reservist with a maintenance company stationed in Iraq, would try to join his brother’s body on the flight back to the U.S.

“We’re hoping he’ll be able to bring his brother home,” said Rushing, a registered nurse.

Rushing said both sons had always felt the need to serve.

Jared Crouch, who graduated from Starkey Academy in Central in 2004, wanted to “be in the thick of things … on the front lines,” his mother said.

She said he got his desire to serve from his father, a Baton Rouge policeman who died of natural causes when Crouch was 13. His father, James Crouch, had wanted to serve in the military but never got the opportunity, Rushing said.

Jared Crouch broke the news that he had decided to join the Army when his mother and stepfather returned from a snow skiing trip his senior year in high school.

“It’s something he just had in his blood to do,” said James Rushing, Crouch’s stepfather.

Kathy Rushing said her son saw the military as an opportunity to serve the country and to pay for an education.

After his Army commitment was finished — he had almost completed his third year of service — Crouch planned to join the Army
National Guard and study history in college, possibly getting a job in government service when he finished, Rushing said.

She said Crouch, a movie buff, loved science fiction, kickboxing and hanging out with his friends.

After high-school graduation, Crouch went straight into cavalry scout training at Fort Knox, Ky.

He was later stationed at Fort Lewis, Wash., where he trained with the 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, his mother said. He rarely talked about his job while in training and later in Iraq, preferring to discuss the latest movies.

He was slightly disappointed when his younger brother, John, 20, was sent with his reserve company to Iraq six months after completing basic training while Jared Crouch continued to train for urban-style warfare at Fort Lewis.

But earlier this year, he got word his unit would be deployed to Iraq.

Kathy Rushing went with her husband to spend a week with Jared Crouch at Fort Lewis before he left for Iraq on April 9, the day after Easter.

Kathy Rushing said she talked with her son last on Thursday and he explained he had been very busy and was looking forward to a trip home in August.

That week in April — the tour of Seattle, the trip to the top of the Space Needle and the hours at a science fiction museum — is the memory she said she cherishes.

“Needless to say,” she said, “it was priceless.”

From the Baton Rouge Advocate