Posted on Oct 14, 2014
1SG Claims Assistant
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October 13, 2004 - a date that will be forever etched in my memory - the day that I lost two fellow Soldiers to a VBIED in Mosul. I have relived the day countless times, and I will freely admit that the experience changed me. It took years for me to sort myself out afterwards.

In tribute to LTC Mark Phalen and MAJ "Robert" Soltes, I ask all of you to reflect on those you have lost in combat and post your own stories.
Posted in these groups: Oif ribbon Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF)
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PO3 Shaun Taylor
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1SG (Join to see) I'm sorry for your loss. Losing somebody is always hard and I believe it changes everyone to an extent.
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1SG Claims Assistant
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The heck of it is, I barely knew either man. I was an individual augmentee to the 426th CA BN, had met MAJ Soltes less than two weeks earlier and LTC Phalen that day.
At the time, LTC Phalen was the highest ranking Soldier killed in Iraq, and it was national news.
Years later, I had a chance to pay my respects to LTC Phalen at Valley Forge National Cemetary, where he is interred. On a whim I went to visit his wife in Norristown. As soon as she realized who I was, I was invited in to have teacakes and look at pictures. I was able to answer a widow's nagging questions - did he suffer (no) - but the highlight was telling her how some of his initiatives turned out. A bakery and a microgrant small business project were particularly successful. I kept my composure most of the time, until, on the way out the door, I mentioned my wife was pregnant with a boy and we intended to name him Robert Mark, after these two men. That was it, waterworks.
It was one of the hardest things I have ever done, but I felt like a million bucks afterwards.
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SGT Rick Ash
SGT Rick Ash
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1SG Healy
I really dislike hearing any story involving loss of life but I know this can be very tough. Use this Anniversary to remember them as you last saw them and be comforted by the fact you know where these two men ill spend eternity.
I will pay tribute to both of them as well.
You are still serving, how long have you been in?
Thanks,
Rick
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1SG Claims Assistant
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SGT Rick Ash, not quite 23 years.
I lost a couple more (not my unit, but my mission) later in that tour, but it didn't leave nearly the mark the first ones did. The difference being that in the first instance, I felt I could have done something different to affect the outcome, but in the second case I don't think I could have done better no matter what.
Second-guessing yourself really haunts.
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TSgt Kristin Parsons
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I would like to pay my respects to SGT John Aragon (KIA 12Jun08-Balad, Iraq) and SPC Christopher Landis (KIA 10Feb14-Bagram, Afghanistan)

Although I did not know them personally, I will remember them forever. Rest Easy Soldiers.
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SSG(P) Professor
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1SG Healy,

We never met, but I was the UA/PH Team NCOIC at the 416th CABN during that time. I knew LTC Phelan personally...he lived down the street from my family. I still see his family often. It definitely changed me as well.

Take care...

Brian P.
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