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- The People Behind The Sacrifice
Army Sgt. David T. Friedrich
Died September 20, 2003 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom
26, of Hammond, N.Y.; assigned to B Company, 325th Military Intelligence Battalion, U.S. Army Reserve, Waterbury, Conn.; killed Sept. 20 in a mortar attack in Abu Ghraib, Iraq.
Naugatuck reservist killed in Iraq
By Matt Apuzzo
A Naugatuck, Conn., man serving in the Army reserves has been killed in Iraq, the military said Sept. 23.
Sgt. David Travis Friedrich was killed Sept. 20, said Eric Hurwitz, a spokesman for the U.S. Army Reserve in Ayer, Mass.
Friedrich and another soldier died when mortars hit a U.S. base near the Abu Ghraib prison on the western outskirts of Baghdad about 10 p.m. Thirteen other soldiers were injured in the attack. No prisoners were injured.
“We are deeply saddened by his death and we appreciate the thoughts and prayers of our fellow Americans,” Friedrich’s parents, David and Beth Friedrich, said in a statement released through Army officials at Fort Drum. “Travis was a great son and a wonderful person and we will miss him greatly.”
Beth Friedrich spoke to The Associated Press on Tuesday night.
“One of the things that comforts us is we had a really wonderful relationship with Travis,” she said. “We never had those bad times that parents have with kids. Last time we saw him at Christmas, we said ‘I love you.’ I don’t feel there was any unfinished business.”
Friedrich, 26, was serving with the 325th Military Intelligence Battalion out of Waterbury. He was deployed in February and was linked with the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, which is based in Wiesbaden, Germany.
He was working on a master’s degree in forensic science at the University of New Haven and working full time at a factory in Waterbury when he was called into active duty.
Beth Friedrich said her son never intended to have a military career. He enlisted to help pay for graduate school, she said.
Growing up in rural upstate New York with two older sisters, Friedrich was a natural leader, his mother said. He helped recruit students for the Gouverneur High School cross-country team and made the often-grueling sport fun, she said.
Friedrich came up with the idea for “Judgment Day,” which remains a tradition at the high school. Runners eat as much as they can, then go on a long run to see who can stomach it, Beth Friedrich said.
“Kids joined the cross country team because he made it fun,” she said. He had that kind of personality. He was that kind of leader. He could get people to do things.”
Shirley Sandora, 75, had rented a room in her Seymour home to Friedrich.
“He was a very busy man. He worked all day,” she said. “I remember he always had his shoes lined up, very precise, everything in order.”
She remembers asking him once whether military service was demanding.
“He said he always liked to carry his own share of the load,” she said.
Sandora remembered Friedrich as compassionate. He expanded her driveway because he hated blocking her car in with his.
“I had a golden retriever, and she wouldn’t listen to me for beans,” Sandora said. “He had her trained to come whenever he called, even with just a whistle.”
He moved from Seymour to Naugatuck, where he was living until he was deployed, UNH officials and Sandora said.
Friedrich majored in criminal justice and chemistry at Brockport (N.Y.) State College, where he was a co-captain of the cross-country team his senior year.
Connecticut Gov. John G. Rowland, who ordered all state flags lowered to half-staff until Thursday evening, said Friedrich was selfless and courageous.
“Sgt. Friedrich’s sacrifice for the independence of another nation sets a timeless example of courage and devotion to duty for all future generations,” Rowland said.
Beth Friedrich said her son often surprised her with his intelligence.
“I just thought of him as my little boy,” she said.
Friedrich is the fifth member of the military from Connecticut to die in Iraq.
Army Staff Sgt. Richard S. Eaton Jr., 37, a counterintelligence officer from Guilford, died in his sleep on Aug. 10.
Army Spc. Wilfredo Perez Jr., 24, of Norwalk died July 26 during a grenade attack as he was guarding a children’s hospital just north of Baghdad.
Marine Cpl. Kemaphoom Chanawongse, 22, of Waterford and Gunnery Sgt. Philip A. Jordan, 42, of Enfield were both killed March 23 during firefights outside the city of Nasiriyah in southern Iraq.
Former upstate New York resident killed in Iraqi mortar attack
FORT DRUM, N.Y. — One of the soldiers killed Sept. 20 during a mortar attack at the U.S. base at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad was a 1995 graduate of Gouverneur High School in northern New York, his family said Tuesday.
Sgt. David Travis Friedrich, 26, of New Haven, Conn., was one of two soldiers killed in the attack. Thirteen others were wounded.
“We are deeply saddened by his death and we appreciate the thoughts and prayers of our fellow Americans,” Friedrich’s family said in a statement released through Army officials at Fort Drum.
“Travis was a great son and a wonderful person and we will miss him greatly,” said the statement from David and Elizabeth Friedrich, of Macomb, who are English teachers at Gouverneur Central School.
Friedrich ran track and cross-country in high school. He attended college at Brockport State University College, where he was co-captain of the cross-country team his senior year.
Friedrich majored in criminal justice and chemistry at Brockport, where he was a “quiet, all business” type who was committed, dedicated and “just passionate about everything,” Brockport Athletic Director Linda J. Case told The Watertown Daily Times.
“He was a wonderful young man. I’m sad to hear this news, but I’m not surprised he died defending our country,” she said. “He was committed to athletics as much as academics and was really someone the other kids looked up to.
“Everyone who knew him would say that he was a very, very fine young man, and held in the highest regards,” she said.
Friedrich graduated in May 1999. He joined the Army Reserve and after training as an intelligence analyst, he was assigned to B Company, 325th Military Intelligence Battalion in Waterbury, Conn., his family said.
Friedrich was working on a master’s degree in forensic science at the University of New Haven, Conn. He was sent to Iraq in February with the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, which is based in Wiesbaden, Germany.
— Associated Press