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Army Cpl. Charles P. Gaffney Jr.

Died December 24, 2008 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom

42, of Phoenix, Ariz., assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.; died Dec. 24 in Orgun-E, Afghanistan, when his combat outpost received enemy rocket fire.

Fallen soldier re-enlisted to help others

The Arizona Star via The Associated Press

TUCSON, Ariz. — The father of a Phoenix soldier who was killed when enemy rockets rained down on his Army outpost in Afghanistan on Christmas Eve said his son rejoined the Army several years ago because he wanted to protect “people’s rights around the world.”

Charles P. Gaffney Sr. said his son, Charles Jr., couldn’t be dissuaded from rejoining the Army, which he left after a tour that began in the mid-1980s. The 42-year-old father of two was on duty at a combat outpost in the remote Paktika province when he died.

A corporal with the 101st Airborne Division based at Fort Campbell, Ky., he moved with his family to Tucson in the late 1970s, his father said Wednesday. Gaffney had served about six years in the Army during the 1980s, mostly in Germany, and then returned to Tucson. He worked at several local auto shops and then moved to Las Vegas and worked for a Porsche dealership there.

Meanwhile, his parents moved to Phoenix, and Gaffney joined them several years ago. That’s when he decided he needed to serve his country again, his father said.

“I won’t say I was upset he was going back, but I didn’t want him to,” his father said. “He told me it was for people’s rights around the world, for them to say what they want to say without other people beating them down. And he said he never wanted anyone to come here to the United States and tell his daughters that they had to do things a certain way.

“And then I couldn’t argue with him.”

Gaffney went to Iraq in 2006-07 and was part of security forces outside Baghdad, his father said. He was sent to Afghanistan in October, and talked about it with family friend Hank Savko.

“He had said, ‘I’m not doing it for myself. I’m doing it for the women of Afghanistan,’ ” Savko said. “We kind of looked at him and said, ‘Why?’ He said the women of Afghanistan are so mistreated, they’re not really people like we are in this country. He said, ‘I’m doing it for them.’ ”

Gaffney raced motorcycles while he was stationed in Germany and continued riding in Phoenix. He had many friends in the motorcycle community, both in Phoenix and in Tucson, his father said.

Gaffney is survived by his wife, Latticia, and his twin daughters, Cara and Mia, of Caldwell, Idaho. He’s also survived by his mother, Fina, two sisters and a brother.

Gaffney will be buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery, but his family will remember him first in Tucson on Sunday.

His youngest sister, Catherine, died several years ago, and Gaffney had told his family he’d like to be buried next to her. They decided he should be buried in Arlington but will hold his local service at her Tucson gravesite. They’ll proceed there from Phoenix with an escort from a number of veterans’ groups.

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