Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Stephen Maddies remembered

JOHNSON CITY — An Army National Guard soldier from Elizabethton serving his second tour in Iraq was killed just 18 days from coming home, his family said.

Sgt. Stephen Maddies, 41, was in a Baghdad tower when it came under gunfire, relatives told WJHL-TV.

Friends gathered Wednesday at the Bristol armory to recount their favorite tales of the soldier some called their “teddy bear.”

Maddies deployed to Iraq in 2004 with Bristol’s F Troop, 2/278th Armored Cavalry Regiment, and volunteered to return as part of the 473rd Counter Rocket Artillery and Mortar Platoon in 2006.

The 57-member C-RAM platoon was headquartered in Columbia and was formed about a year ago especially for the mission to Iraq, Tennessee Army National Guard spokesman Randy Harris said. The platoon’s mission is to track and identify incoming enemy rocket, artillery and mortar attacks via radar.

All of its personnel are serving in Iraq, and it’s uncertain whether the unit might return to Columbia, Harris said.

Maddies was never actually stationed in Columbia but might have joined the rest of the platoon here before shipping out for training, said Shawn Swavely, a staff sergeant at Maddies’ home armory in Bristol.

“He didn’t spend any time there,” Swavely said. “He was pretty much here, and then when they shipped out for (Fort) Bliss (near El Paso, Texas) ... he met up with them maybe down there (in Columbia) but immediately left to go to Bliss.”

Friend Timothy Parsons knew him more than a decade and went to war with him the first time.

“I remember one night ... he was watching some kind of Diane Sawyer special about tanks and he said ‘I want to do that.’ So he joined us up here in Bristol,” Parsons said.

Maddies spoke with the station before he went back to war in May.

“I feel, with me going, that means someone else doesn’t have to go, so that’s my purpose,” he said at the time.

Command Sgt. Maj. John Cartwright Sr. told the Bristol Herald Courier that Maddies was hit by sniper fire.

From the Columbia Daily Herald

Related Link:
Stephen R. Maddies dies 'of wounds suffered from enemy small arms fire'