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Army Chief Warrant Officer 4 Patrick D. Leach

Died December 9, 2004 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

39, of Rock Hill, S.C.; assigned to the 1st Battalion, 151st Aviation Regiment, South Carolina Army National Guard, Columbia, S.C.; killed Dec. 9 in an Apache helicopter accident in Mosul, Iraq. Also killed was Army 1st Lt. Andrew C. Shields.

Federal Way native killed in Iraq

Associated Press

FEDERAL WAY, Wash. — One of two soldiers killed when a pair of U.S. helicopters collided in Iraq was a commercial airline pilot who had served in Operation Desert Storm.

Warrant Officer Patrick Leach, 39, was one of the victims, said his parents, Bruce and Grace Leach of Tacoma.

“My son was doing what he had to do,” said Bruce Leach Sr. “He hated to leave his family. But he went because he was told to go. He did his duty.”

The Federal Way native, a member of the South Carolina National Guard, died Thursday when an AH-64 Apache struck an UH-60 Black Hawk on the ground in the city of Mosul.

Leach’s parents learned of his death Thursday night when they returned from a visit with his wife and children in Rock Hill, S.C.

Officials in South Carolina identified the other soldier who died as Lt. Andrew Shields, also a Guardsman from that state.

The four men wounded in the collision have returned to duty, said Lt. Col. Paul Hastings, a spokesman for Task Force Olympia, which includes the Fort Lewis-based Stryker Brigade.

The accident was under investigation.

Leach served in the active-duty Army from 1986 to 1992 and was deployed to Iraq in 1991 as part of Operation Desert Storm.

Before his guard unit was called up, Leach was an airline pilot and regional jet captain for six years at Mesa Airlines, which flies US Airways Express flights out of Charlotte.

“Pat’s life’s ambition was to be a pilot,” brother-in-law John Landstreet said. “He lived for that and his family. This is just devastating.”

Leach is survived by his wife, Elizabeth, and their three children, a 4-year-old daughter and two boys, ages 2 years and 7 months. He also has 19- and 17-year-old sons from a previous marriage.

About two dozen Apaches and a half-dozen Black Hawks from the South Carolina National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 151st Aviation Regiment, are stationed in northern Iraq as part of Task Force Olympia. The unit was deployed in October with the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, based out of Fort Lewis.

S.C. town remembers pilot killed in Iraq

ROCK HILL, S.C. — Friends, family and fellow pilots gathered this week for a memorial service honoring a South Carolina National Guard pilot killed in Iraq.

Patrick Leach, 39, a father of five, died in a helicopter accident in Mosul on Thursday. The Apache helicopter he was piloting ran into a Black Hawk helicopter on the ground, his family said.

Lt. Andrew Shields of Campobello also died in the crash.

Civilian pilot Leo Friedwald said he flew with Leach whenever he could. Leach, a veteran of the first Gulf War, was a jet pilot for Mesa Airlines out of Charlotte, N.C., before he was activated to serve in Iraq.

“We lost one of our best,” Friedwald said Tuesday during the memorial service at First ARP Church. “Best friend. Best pilot. Best person. Best guy.”

There are only about 1,000 Apache pilots in the entire Army, said Col. Tony Barber of the Guard’s 151st Aviation Regiment, based out of Eastover.

“We all knew Pat,” Barber said. “We all train together. Apache pilots are a close brotherhood. This hurts us all.”

Leach, a native of Washington state, married a Rock Hill woman, Elizabeth Brice Leach, and has lived in Rock Hill for years.

Army spokeswoman Maj. Elizabeth Robbins in Washington had no other details, other than that the crash did not occur during hostilities. The cause of the crash could take four to six weeks to determine, said Lt. Col. Pete Brooks, a Guard spokesman in Columbia.

— Associated Press

Soldier killed in Iraq laid to rest

ROCK HILL, S.C. — A soldier killed in Iraq earlier this month has been buried with full military honors.

Chief Warrant Officer Patrick Leach was buried Monday during a graveside service attended by more than 150 people.

Leach, 39, was killed Dec. 9 in a helicopter accident in Mosul, Iraq.

Three Apache helicopters flew over Laurelwood Cemetery, two heading south and the third turning north alone, symbolizing a fallen soldier.

A member of the South Carolina Army National Guard, he was a veteran helicopter pilot of the first Gulf War. He was deployed in October and was a member of A Company, 1st Battalion, 151st Aviation Regiment.

“He was a cheerful giver,” the Rev. Barry Dagenhart said. “He gave up his life in the service of his country and ultimately for you and me.”

The service included a 21-gun salute and the playing of ‘Taps’.

Leach’s wife, Elizabeth, his two older sons, his parents and his brother were among those at the service.

Among the crowd was the twin brother of Lt. Andrew Shields of Campobello, who was killed in the incident with Leach.

Lt. Philip Shields of the South Carolina Army National Guard had attended his 25-year-old brother’s funeral Saturday.

Elizabeth Leach attended that service, as well.

Philip Shields, an Apache pilot himself, recently returned from Kosovo. He said his family was holding up under the circumstances.

“People wait too late to think of them as heroes,” he said. “They were heroes when they left. There are a lot more out there.”

— Associated Press


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