- Operation Enduring Freedom
- Operation Freedom’s Sentinel
- Operation Inherent Resolve
- Operation Iraqi Freedom
- Operation New Dawn
- Operation Odyssey Lightning
- U.S. Central Command operations
- The People Behind The Sacrifice
Kentucky Army National Guard Sgt. Darrin K. Potter
Died September 29, 2003 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom
24, of Louisville, Ky.; assigned to the 223rd Military Police Company, Army National Guard, Louisville, Ky.; killed Sept. 29 when his vehicle left a road and went into a canal during a mission to search an area near Abu Ghraib Prison, outside Baghdad, Iraq.
Family, friends mourn guardsman killed in Iraq
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Bagpipes and a solemn drumbeat rang through Southeast Christian Church as family, friends and comrades gathered Oct 8 to remember the first Kentucky Army National Guardsman to die in combat since Vietnam.
Sgt. Darrin K. Potter, 24, was “a very compassionate, loving, selfless person who always had a calm demeanor,” Mike Koenig, a friend and Louisville police officer, said during the funeral.
One by one, military and police officers stood before Potter’s casket and bade him farewell with slow salutes after the service that drew about 300 mourners.
Potter wanted to be a police officer — his dream since high school — when he was deployed with the 223rd Military Police Company to Iraq.
He served as a peacekeeper in Bosnia with the 223rd in December 2000. Potter’s deployment to Iraq was to have been his last before returning with hopes of re-entering the police force.
Potter died Sept. 29 when his military vehicle overturned and was submerged in a canal in Baghdad. He was in a four-vehicle convoy on patrol. A Humvee carrying Potter and other soldiers failed to make a turn and plunged into the canal while responding to a mortar attack by Iraqi insurgents.
Sgt. Matthew Staples said Potter was more concerned about the safety of his comrades than about himself.
“When his vehicle rolled into the canal, he made sure his troops made it out of the vehicle,” said Staples, one of Potter’s closest friends in the unit.
All the occupants got out, and two made it to shallow water, but Potter was swept away by swift currents. A soldier from the 82nd Airborne Division, Sgt. Andrew Baddick of Jim Thorpe, Pa., died trying to rescue Potter.
Potter’s company was supporting elements of the 82nd Airborne Division.
Potter was born in Flemingsburg and grew up in Maysville, Frankfort and finally Louisville. He became interested in sports and the outdoors at an early age. In elementary school, he would clip empty Final Four brackets printed in the newspaper and sell copies to classmates for a quarter a piece, said the Rev. Larry Pope in a eulogy.
Potter had many friends but was especially close to his sister, Anita. Though four years his junior, Anita “was a mother hen to him,” doting over him and trying to pick his girlfriends for him, said Dennis Romans, their uncle.
Potter was buried at Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville. He was honored with a 21-gun salute and a flyover by three Black Hawk helicopters.
He is survived by his father, David Potter; his mother, Lynn Romans; and his sister.
Guardsman killed in Iraq is remembered by his parents
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Kentucky’s first Army National Guard combat casualty in a generation died a “hero’s death” while responding to a mortar attack in Iraq, his mother said Friday.
Sgt. Darrin Potter was remembered by his parents as a warm, compassionate man devoted to family and his military mission.
Potter, 24, a member of the 223rd Military Police Company, died Monday when his military vehicle overturned and submerged in a canal in Baghdad.
“He died serving his country,” said his mother, Lynn Romans. “He died a hero’s death, and I think that’s how we need to remember him.”
In Iraq, Potter’s fellow guardsmen paid tribute to their fallen comrade at memorial services, said Kentucky Adjutant General D. Allen Youngman. The guardsmen received a short break from duties so they could “catch up a little bit emotionally and physically,” he said.
Youngman provided more details about the Kentucky Army National Guard’s first combat death since the Vietnam War.
Potter was in a four-vehicle convoy on patrol. A Humvee carrying Potter and other soldiers failed to make a turn and plunged into the canal while responding to a mortar attack by Iraqi insurgents, Youngman said.
All the occupants got out of the vehicle and two made it to shallow water, Youngman said, but Potter was swept away by the swift currents. A soldier from the 82nd Airborne Division also died while trying to rescue Potter, he said. Potter was part of a military police squad supporting elements of the 82nd Airborne Division, which is based at Fort Bragg, N.C.
Potter’s parents offered condolences to the family of Sgt. Andrew Baddick of Jim Thorpe, Penn., the soldier who tried to rescue Potter.
Potter’s father, David Potter, said he last spoke with his son the morning of his death. It was a brief conversation — his son had two minutes left on his phone card. Potter gave his father instructions to carry out some of his business back home, his father said.
David Potter said his son was always reluctant to discuss what was happening in Iraq. Potter’s unit arrived in the Persian Gulf in February.
“I think he was very content,” David Potter said. “He was a military man, he knew his mission and he went there to do a job. He was very positive in his outlook.”
Asked his thoughts about the war, David Potter replied, “We have decided to leave it to the intelligence of the nation to argue the pros and cons of the war.” Darrin Potter’s mother said the war was “the route our country has chosen, and that was his role.”
Potter joined the guard unit because of his interest in law enforcement, his father said.
Romans said her son was a “very likable, easy going person.” Potter’s father remembered him as an “outstanding, all-around person.”
She said the family doesn’t yet know when Potter’s body will be returned to Louisville. She said his funeral will be at Southeast Christian Church. Potter also is survived by a 20-year-old sister.
Potter’s mother said his death was “part of a much larger plan,” and that he continues to touch many lives even after death.
“In his 24 years of life he had a lot of opportunities and a lot of privileges,” she said. “He had a goal and he went for that, and he worked for that goal. He did accomplish a lot in his life, a lot more than maybe a lot of us in our entire lifetime.”
Romans learned of her son’s death while at work. She was alerted in a phone call from her ex-husband, Potter’s father, that something was wrong before a military team told her of her son’s death.
“It’s just something that you really can’t fathom, and you never want to see,” Romans told reporters at the Buechel Armory, where her son’s unit is stationed. “And even now it feels unreal.”
* * * * *
Kentucky Army National Guardsman killed in Iraq
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A member of the Kentucky Army National Guard was killed in Iraq while supporting combat operations, the state Department of Military Affairs said.
Sgt. Darrin K. Potter, 24, of Louisville, serving with the 223rd Military Police Company, died Monday.
Lt. Col. Phil Miller, a National Guard spokesman, said Potter had been in the National Guard about 5 years. He was serving as part of a military police squad supporting elements of the 82nd Airborne Division. Other details of the death were not immediately available.
David Altom, also a Kentucky National Guard spokesman, said Potter’s was the first Kentucky Army National Guard combat death since the Vietnam War.
Mark Miller, a Louisville attorney, said he met Potter about a year ago when he became his attorney, but they later developed a friendship. He said Potter called him frequently from Iraq and mailed him Iraqi money and a hat pin from an Iraqi police officer’s hat.
“I have fond memories. He was a young kid. It was a shame,” Miller said.
— Associated Press