- NATO Kosovo Force
- Operation Enduring Freedom
- Operation Freedom’s Sentinel
- Operation Inherent Resolve
- Operation Iraqi Freedom
- Operation New Dawn
- Operation Odyssey Lightning
- Operation Spartan Shield
- U.S. Africa Command Operations
- U.S. Central Command operations
- The People Behind The Sacrifice
Army Cpl. Keith E. Essary
Died January 8, 2009 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom
20, of Dyersburg, Tenn.; assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas; died Jan. 8 in Maywand, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when his dismounted patrol was hit by an improvised explosive device. Also killed was Sgt. Joshua L. Rath.
2 Fort Hood soldiers killed in Afghan action
The Associated Press
FORT HOOD, Texas — The Pentagon identified two Fort Hood soldiers Monday as those killed in a roadside bombing in Afghanistan.
A Defense Department statement issued Monday identifies the two as 22-year-old Sgt. Joshua L. Rath of Decatur, Ala., and 20-year-old Spc. Keith E. Essary of Dyersburg, Tenn.
The statement says they died Thursday in Maywand, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when the explosive trap hit their dismounted patrol.
They were assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division at Fort Hood.
Essary graduated from Dyer County High School in 2006. He enlisted in the Army at the beginning of his senior year, the Dyersburg (Tenn.) State Gazette reported.
Essary’s family gave him a going-away party in May while he was home on leave for two weeks, and he deployed to Afghanistan the following month. He returned to Dyersburg on leave in September, and his deployment was expected to end in June, the newspaper reported.
Essary’s grandmother, Anita Essary, in whose home Essary was raised, said he was a “very strong-willed boy.”
“He pretty well always knew what he wanted to do and he loved Johnny Cash,” she told the newspaper.
Some of Essary’s friends gathered last week at his grandmother’s house to remember him.
“He was my best friend,” said Jonathan Pope, who was in JROTC with Essary. “If you saw him, you saw me, and if you saw me, you saw him. He was big-hearted, and you could have called him anytime you needed something. He always kept the mood light.”
Rath’s family was notified of his death Thursday evening at their home, The Decatur (Ala.) Daily reported.
Leroy Rath said his son’s body had arrived at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware and that he planned to fly to the base Tuesday to join his son’s body.
Rath will fly home with his son after the autopsy is completed and his body is released, which is standard procedure in the U.S. Army when soldiers are killed in battle. Their return date has not been released yet. Rath joined the Army after graduating from Austin High School in Decatur in 2004.
He was scheduled to be released from the Army in December but was deployed to Afghanistan in July.
Father, son enjoyed motorcycles
The Associated Press
Sgt. 1st Class Robert Lipker recruited Keith E. Essary, and they remained friends afterward.
“He was the greatest kid you will ever meet,” Lipker said.
“He made the perfect soldier and had a big heart. He would give you the shirt off his back. He would rather be with the folks he loved than sleep or eat.”
Essary, 20, of Dyersburg, Tenn., died Jan. 8 in Maywand, Afghanistan, when his dismounted patrol was hit by an improvised explosive device. He was a 2006 high school graduate and was assigned to Fort Hood.
“He was my best friend,” said Jonathan Pope, who was in JROTC with Essary. “He was big-hearted, and you could have called him anytime you needed something. He always kept the mood light.”
Essary had a fondness for motorcycles and liked to go riding with his father, Chuck Hall. “Every time we talked, that’s what we always talked about,” he said.
He also is survived by his grandmother, Anita Essary; his mother, Mary Beth Franks, and her husband, Tony; and his stepmother, Sheri.
“He was a good guy,” said Terry Wilson, a friend.
“He wanted us to be proud of what he was doing,” said Keith’s uncle, Monty Essary.