Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Nick Gummersall remembered

A 23-year-old soldier from Pocatello was killed in Iraq Monday morning when the building he entered exploded.

Sgt. Nick Gummersall was on his fourth tour overseas and was due home in Pocatello Sept. 15, according to his father, Clay Gummersall.

According to Clay, Nick was one of four soldiers who were killed in a combat explosion in Diyala province north of the capital Monday. He is the second Century High School graduate to be killed in combat in Iraq in the past three months. Nick — a man who trained in high school by waking early morning and jogging five miles while wearing ankle weights — was a standout athlete at Century who attended Idaho State University and played on the practice squad for the Bengal football team. Clay said his son had already registered to take classes at Boise State University this fall.

Had his tour in Iraq not been extended, Nick would already be back in the Gate City now.

“He was going to walk on and play football there,” Clay said. “That was before (President) Bush said, ‘You’re going to stay here for another few months.’” Clay, who last saw his son while he was on leave in October, said Nick was in love with a woman from North Carolina and had plans to marry. The family’s last contact with him was a Sunday e-mail exchange between Nick and his step-sister, Olivia.

“Nick had more friends than anybody I ever met,” Clay said. “If you met Nick, he was usually your friend.”

Clay said his son joined the Army Rangers because he wanted to be the best at everything he did. His friend, Caitlyn McCune, 21, described him as confident and carefree, saying he never voiced any fears about serving in Iraq.

“When I’d get worried, he’d say, ‘I’m 10 feet tall and bulletproof,’” McCune said.

Bruce Givens had the opportunity to coach Nick in both football and baseball. Givens said Nick was a natural athlete who could have played virtually any position in either sport. On the Century football team, Nick was a running back and a free safety. He played left field in baseball, but had aspirations of pitching.

“He could run like the wind,” Givens said. “The biggest thing I’ll ever remember about Nick, in baseball, he always wanted to pitch, and we told him, ‘If we’re either up by 20 or down by 20, you get to throw.’ We let him throw once, and he didn’t do too bad.” Nick was at his best in clutch situations, his former coach recalled. When the game was on the line, Givens said Nick wanted the ball. As good as he was on the field, Givens said Nick was just as valuable to the team as a leader.

Givens considers it a testament to Nick’s personality that he received calls throughout Monday from players, coaches and others who knew him.

“He’s one of the best kids that I’d ever coached,” Givens said. “It sounds cliche, but he’s a kid you wish you had 50 of on any team.”

From the Press Tribune

Related Link:
Nick Gummersall reported killed in Iraq