Honor The Fallen
Honoring those who fought and died in Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn
Search Our Database





  





Bookmark and Share

Army Cpl. Zachary R. Nordmeyer

Died February 23, 2009 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom


21, of Indianapolis; assigned to the 5th Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Fort Wainwright, Alaska; died Feb. 23 in Balad, Iraq, of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked his unit using small arms fire. Also killed were Cpl. Michael L. Mayne and Cpl. Micheal B. Alleman.

Soldier remembered for his leadership

By Will Higgins

Indianapolis Star

Pfc. Zachary R. Nordmeyer, who died Monday in a firefight with insurgents in Iraq, was remembered as a quiet person with the makings of a leader.

A graduate of Ben Davis High School, Nordmeyer, 21, was killed while patrolling on foot near the town of Balad, about 70 miles north of Baghdad. He and other soldiers came under attack from small-arms fire.

He was the second graduate of the Ben Davis High School JROTC program to be killed in combat in Iraq.

“He was a very goal-oriented young man,” recalled Ben Davis Principal Joel McKinney, “and wanted to be in the armed forces and wanted to develop his leadership skills.”

Two other soldiers were killed in Monday’s attack: Cpl. Michael L. Mayne, 21, Burlington Flats, N.Y., and Spc. Michael B. Alleman, 31, Logan, Utah. The Pentagon released no further details about the incident.

Lt. Col. Dave Thompson, a retired Marine who runs Ben Davis’ JROTC program, taught Nordmeyer for three years and recalled his student’s transformation from follower to leader.

“There’s quiet leadership, and he was pretty strong at that early,” Thompson said. “But by his senior year, he kind of came out of his shell. He wasn’t afraid to encourage younger students to develop as cadets and do their best.”

Jim Sheads, who coached Nordmeyer in baseball one summer, recalled a boy who craved action.

“He played second base for me,” Sheads said. “He was just suited for second base — not a real strong arm, and he loved the busyness of the infield.”

Nordmeyer joined the Army in July 2007, two months out of high school, and was sent to Iraq in September for a 12-month tour.

He is the 132nd soldier, sailor or Marine with Indiana ties to die in Iraq or Afghanistan and the 12th from Indianapolis. Overall, the fighting has claimed more than 4,800 U.S. troops.

The other Ben Davis grad, 19-year-old Army Pvt. Jesse Halling, died June 7, 2003, in an attack on a military police station in Tikrit.

About 150 students at Ben Davis are in the JROTC program; about 15 a year join the military upon graduation.

Thompson, who has taught JROTC at the high school since 1999, said the deaths of Nordmeyer and Halling bring the risks of service into focus.

“It doesn’t make me question our mission, but it definitely gives me a different perspective in talking to the kids about what they’re getting into. You don’t want them going into the military without understanding the ramifications.”

Nordmeyer’s death came a day before administration officials announced U.S. combat troops would be withdrawn from Iraq by August 2010.

Violence has fallen dramatically in Iraq, and this month Nordmeyer’s brigade commander reported that troops were encountering little combat.

“They came here expecting it to be more of a fight,” Col. Burt Thompson said in a conference call from Iraq on Feb. 9.

Nordmeyer was assigned to the 5th Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division from Fort Wainwright, Alaska. Among its soldiers is Pfc. Track Palin, son of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. * * * * *

Memorial held at Wainwright for fallen soldiers

The Associated Press

FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska — Soldiers from Indiana, New York and Utah who were killed in Iraq were remembered at a memorial service.

The memorial at Fort Wainwright Tuesday was for Pfc. Zachary R. Nordmeyer, Cpl. Michael L. Mayne and Spc. Micheal B. Alleman. The three were killed Feb. 23 by small arms fire during an attack in Balad.

The 21-year-old Nordmeyer was from Indianapolis. He was an infantryman, as was Alleman, a 31-year-old from Logan, Utah. The 21-year-old Mayne was a cavalry scout from Burlington Flats, N.Y.

The three were assigned to Fort Wainwright’s 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry.

Speakers at the memorial included Staff Sgt. Matthew Burns, the rear detachment commander of the 5-1 Cavalry Squadron. He knew the men well.

“They were truly heroes in every sense of the word,” he said.

Several hundred people attended the ceremony, including Lt. Hans Rohr, who was in the same gun fight that claimed the lives of his three friends. Rohr wore a cast on his left hand.

“No matter how bad we have it, there are family members who lost husbands, brothers and sons,” he said. “We’ll stick together. We’ll hold up.”

Chaplain David Neetz said Alleman, a former teacher, had a special connection with Iraqi children, often giving them candy and pens to learn to write English.

“He had a very unique ability to connect with kids not only in the classroom, but in combat,” Neetz said.

Nordmeyer was remembered for his intense devotion to those closest to him. The chaplain said that when Nordmeyer’s former fiancée broke up with him in high school, Nordmeyer showered her with poetry, flowers and cards until she came back to him.

Mayne was known for having a disarming sense of humor. Burns said Mayne would often sing random songs such as “Eye of the Tiger” or Britney Spears hits to bring humor to a mundane situation.

“That was Mike Mayne in a nutshell,” he said. “But at the same time as a total professional soldier.”


Army Cpl. Zachary R. Nordmeyer remembered

The Associated Press

Lt. Col. Dave Thompson, who runs an JROTC program, taught Zachary R. Nordmeyer for three years and recalled his student’s transformation from follower to leader.

“There’s quiet leadership, and he was pretty strong at that early,” Thompson said. “But by his senior year, he kind of came out of his shell. He wasn’t afraid to encourage younger students to develop as cadets and do their best.”

Nordmeyer, 21, of Indianapolis, was killed Feb. 23 in Balad when insurgents attacked his unit with small-arms fire. He was assigned to Fort Wainwright.

“Zach was such a good person. Zach loved me more than anything, and he would have given the shirt off his back to anyone who needed it,” said Nordmeyer’s fiancée, Christina Purdy.

Nordmeyer joined the Army in July 2007, two months out of high school, and was sent to Iraq in September for a 12-month tour.

Jim Sheads, who coached Nordmeyer in baseball one summer, recalled a boy who craved action. “He played second base for me,” Sheads said. “He was just suited for second base — not a real strong arm, and he loved the busyness of the infield.”

He is survived by his father, Michael.

View By Year & Month

2002   2001