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Army Pfc. Scott A. Messer

Died February 2, 2006 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

26, of Ashland, Ky.; assigned to the 1st Squadron, 32nd Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Ky.; died Feb. 2 when his Humvee accidentally rolled over during convoy operations in Ashraf, Iraq.

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Slain soldier joined military for a better life

Associated Press

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. — A soldier from eastern Kentucky who died in Iraq joined the military to give his family a better life, his wife said Saturday.

Pfc. Scott A. Messer, 26, of Ashland, was killed in Ashraf, Iraq, on Thursday, when the Humvee he was riding in accidentally rolled over during convoy operations, the Pentagon said Friday.

He was one of five members of the Fort Campbell-based 101st Airborne Division killed in Iraq since Wednesday in three separate incidents, the Pentagon said.

Messer was assigned to 1st Squadron, 32nd Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division.

His wife, Jennifer, said Messer was “a little nervous” about leaving her and their two daughters — 4-year-old Hailee and 1-year-old Natalie — to deploy to Iraq.

“He didn’t want to leave us, but he was pretty strong about it,” she said.

Messer’s mother, Joyce Johnson, told The Independent of Ashland that her son was at home for 15 days recently after spending six months in Iraq. She said he had been back in Iraq for about two weeks when he was killed.

“When he was at home, he talked about how much he liked being a soldier,” she said. “He said he wanted to re-enlist at the end of his time and go back in the medical field to help the wounded.”

Three other soldiers were killed Wednesday when a roadside bomb exploded near their Humvee, the Pentagon said. A fourth soldier, a member of the same combat team, died in an insurgent attack, also on Wednesday.

The three soldiers, First Lt. Garrison C. Avery, 23, of Lincoln, Neb.; Spc. Marlon A. Bustamante, 25, of Corona, N.Y.; and Pfc. Caesar S. Viglienzone, 21, of Santa Rosa, Calif., were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division.

Spc. Anthony C. Owens, 21, of Conway, S.C., was also killed on Wednesday when his unit was attacked by insurgents using grenades and small arms fire.

Messer joined the Army in September 2004 and arrived at Fort Campbell in February 2005. He also is survived his parents, Victor Messer of Bellefonte and Joyce Johnson of Westwood.

Avery joined the Army in May 2004 and arrived at Fort Campbell in June 2005. He is survived by his wife, Kayla, of Clarksville, Tenn.; and parents, Gary and Susan Avery of Lincoln, Neb.

Bustamante joined the Army in April 2003 and arrived at Fort Campbell in August 2003. He is survived by his wife, Danielle; twin boys, Gabriel and Xavier; and a daughter, Annalyse of Fort Campbell.

Viglienzone joined the Army in October 2004 and arrived at Fort Campbell in January 2005. He is survived by his parents, Dennis and Norma Viglienzone, of Santa Rosa, Calif.

Owens is survived by his parents, Ronnie and Carrie Owens. His sister, Veronica Owens, lives in Conway, S.C.

There have been 117 soldiers from Fort Campbell killed in the Iraq war.

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Family, friends gather amid snow to remember fallen soldier

ASHLAND, Ky. — Jennifer Messer laid a single red carnation from a floral wreath on top of her husband’s casket.

It was the final goodbye to her husband, Pfc. Scott Messer, 26, who died Feb. 2 when his Humvee overturned during a convoy near Ashraf, Iraq, the Army said.

Family and friends gathered Saturday in the cold and snow at Rose Hill Burial Park to remember Messer, one of 122 members of the Fort Campbell-based Army 101st Airborne Division killed in Iraq.

Army Brig. Gen. Bruce Berwick presented an American flag to Jennifer Messer, telling the widow and her two children that the United States was grateful for her husband’s sacrifice.

Berwick gave two similar flags to Scott Messer’s parents, Joyce and Victor Messer.

During a memorial service at Steen Funeral Home in downtown Ashland before the burial, Berwick described Messer as a brave soldier and proud father.

“It has been a high privilege and honor to get to know Scott Messer through your eyes and the eyes of his comrades,” a tearful Berwick told the assembly of family and friends. “He earned the undying gratitude of this nation.”

Jennifer Messer cried while sitting near her husband’s coffin, holding the couple’s two daughters, Hailee and Natalie, each of whom held a tiny American flag.

At the cemetery, members of the 101st Airborne gave Messer a 21-gun salute that echoed off the snow-dusted hills.

Army Chaplain Clinton Caszatt gave the eulogy at the funeral and said the final words at the burial, telling mourners to put their trust in God during this difficult time.

“This world doesn’t offer us a lot of hope. But our hope comes from God. Our peace comes from Him,” Caszatt said. “It’s hard to get our sights beyond this life, but the Lord encourages us not to get so locked up in this world that we forget what life is about.”

— Associated Press

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