Monday, October 08, 2007

Robert T. Ayres III dies 'of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked his unit using small arms fire'

U.S. Army Sgt. Robert T. Ayres III, 23, who grew up in Los Osos, was killed Sept. 29 while serving in Iraq. He died from wounds suffered during an attack on his unit in Baghdad.

His mother, Michelle Ayres, a 19-year resident of Los Osos, said her son enlisted in the Army after graduating from high school in Southern California in 2003.

“He was a happy, funny and just a really sweet boy,” Ayres said. “He was fighting for the country and the people that he loved.”

Ayres was born July 26, 1984, in Santa Monica. He moved with his mother, twin brother and sister to Los Osos in 1988.

He is survived by four siblings ages 17 to 27. His twin brother, Jackson, lives in Atascadero, and his 17-year-old sister, Mimi, lives in Los Osos.

Other family members in San Luis Obispo County include his maternal aunt and uncle, Stevie and Rodger Anderson. Rodger Anderson is a former mayor of Morro Bay.

Robert Ayres attended Bay-wood and Monarch Grove elementary schools in Los Osos, San Benito Elementary School in Atascadero and Los Osos Middle School before moving to Brentwoodwhen he was 15 to live with his father, Robert Ayres II.

“He told me he wanted to join the Army right out of high school,” said Michelle Ayres, 53.

She remembers him at age 5, with blond hair and blue eyes. He was a child who always had his eyes open, was constantly smiling, who would ride a bicycle without touching the handlebars, she said.

“He’d close his eyes just to see what he would run into,” she said. She worried, but he kept saying: “Don’t worry Mom, I’m made out of rubber.”

Although she hadn’t seen her son in more than two years, Ayres remembered phone conversations with him in recent months as well as his last visit to the Central Coast in 2005. During that visit he celebrated his 21st birthday with his brother, Jackson, at the Sweet Springs Saloon in Los Osos.

That was the last time she saw her son before he left for Germany and then Baghdad in June 2007. It was his second deployment to Iraq since he joined the Army, according to family members.

Ayres was assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, based in Vilseck, Germany.

During their sporadic phone calls, Michelle Ayres said she remembered sharing stories of her son’s childhood. He’d tell her not to worry about him.

“He would never tell me that he was getting shot at,” she said. “Instead, he would say ‘Mommy, I love you.’ ”

Even from afar, Robert Ayres could still make her laugh. They’d tell each other to hang up after their conversations, but after 20 minutes, Michelle Ayres said, they’d still be on the phone.

As they joked back and forth, she remembered her son saying that he loved her.

“I can feel how badly he wanted to come home and just be a little kid again,” she said. “Now every time I get sad, I can hear him.”

From the San Luis Obispo Tribune