As many of you know by now, five U.S. service members died here at Camp Liberty, two weeks to the day before Memorial Day.
One of them was one of our soldiers from Missouri who was a member of the 277th Engineer Company from San Antonio, Texas. The 277th is attached to our 46th Engineer Combat Battalion (Heavy), here at Camp Liberty.
My job was to collect information from my division, and 277th and 46th colleagues and put together a press release about Pfc. Jacob Barton.
After my press release was sent out publically, Barton was posthumously promoted to specialist.
Over the years working in Army Public Affairs, unfortunately, tragic events like this come with the territory, but it doesn't get any easier to write about them. It just puts more emphasis on the importance of the lives of those who have left us early, and the importance of family and friends.
Last night's memorial service for Spc. Jacob Barton was emotional, humbling, and yet inspiring.
Spc. Barton volunteered to serve his nation during a time of war. He was a military construction equipment repairer. I did not know him, but from what I have heard, I can see why so many of his fellow soldiers admired him. He was a good kid. Yes, 20 years-old-and a kid. He grew up in small town America, Lennox, Missouri, where I'm told only three families reside. His fellow soldiers say this "innocent" young man began to grow as an adult only after joining the Army Reserves in Missouri.
It was his "green as a blade of grass" purity and trusting nature that made him the brunt of pranks, but they were jokes that Barton laughed along with. He was that kind of guy. Barton was also selfless. I am told he sent his paycheck home to help his family. Those qualities were the glue that brought his fellow soldiers and leaders closer to him and formed a deep bond.
The story goes that Barton's mother had passed away a while back and Mother's Day really brought up some deep emotions in this young man, so deep that he needed to speak to a professional. He showed courage by going to the Combat Stress Clinic to receive the help and support that he needed. Then, the unfortunate happened, so close in proximity to us, and we couldn't do anything at the time to stop it.
What a tragedy.
However, rest assured, that on this side of the world, in death, Spc. Jacob David Barton is teaching us all to be strong and accomplish our mission, yet don't be afraid to reach out for help when we need it, and definitely, DEFINITELY, let a little laughter out every now and then.
Please say a special prayer for Spc. Barton, his family, and those who were close to him.