- NATO Kosovo Force
- Operation Enduring Freedom
- Operation Freedom’s Sentinel
- Operation Inherent Resolve
- Operation Iraqi Freedom
- Operation New Dawn
- Operation Octave Shield
- Operation Odyssey Lightning
- Operation Spartan Shield
- U.S. Africa Command Operations
- U.S. Central Command operations
- The People Behind The Sacrifice
Army Spc. Clinton R. Upchurch
Died January 7, 2006 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom
31, of Garden City, Kan.; assigned to the 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Ky.; killed Jan. 7 during patrol operations when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Humvee and enemy forces attacked using small-arms fire in Samarra, Iraq.
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Family says soldier killed while defending other troops
GARDEN CITY, Kan. — Cindy Upchurch had just put the care package full of cookies and candy in the mail when she heard the terrible news — her soldier son would never be able to open it.
The Army announced Tuesday that Spc. Clinton R. Upchurch, 31, of Garden City, was killed Saturday near the predominantly Sunni Arab town of Samarra, about 60 miles north of Baghdad. He was the gunner on one of three Humvees that were escorting higher-ranked officials.
Upchurch was a military policeman assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, the Army said Wednesday. The Army had listed him with a different unit in its original statement on Tuesday.
He is the 22nd Kansan to die in the war in Iraq.
“(The Army representatives) said he died a hero, that he saved his guys,” Cindy Upchurch said. “Knowing Clint, I’m not surprised he died defending them. He did his mission. That’s just the kind of guy he was.”
It was the end, Upchurch said, of her son’s lifelong dream. She had tried to talk him out of the service but couldn’t, maybe because it was in his blood. His father served in Vietnam; his grandfather and great-grandfather were veterans too.
“It’s been something he and I have been fighting about since he was 17,” she said. “But I knew he would enlist, and I knew he was doing something he wanted to do. He loved the service and defending his country.”
The soldier was killed when a roadside bomb detonated near his Humvee and enemy forces fired on him. He joined the Army in August 2004 and was assigned to Fort Campbell, Ky., last March. Before that, he worked for the Finney County Sheriff’s Office.
“As a mom, you know there’s danger involved. But to me, he wasn’t in any more danger over there than here,” Upchurch said.
Now, Upchurch waits for the body to arrive home and for her youngest son — husband of Kari, stepfather and foster father, high school football player, Christian and fourth-generation Garden City resident — to be laid to rest.
He will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery. There will be memorial services at Fort Campbell and in Garden City.
Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius urged the state to pray for Upchurch’s family and friends.
“He has made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country, and he will not be forgotten,” she said.
Rep. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., whose 1st District includes Garden City, praised Upchurch for his sacrifice for his country.
The slain soldier had sent his mother an e-mail at 12:36 p.m. Friday.
“Hi. I love you. Are you there?” he asked.
She wasn’t. She had gone to lunch. And she would never hear from him again.
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101st Airborne soldier killed in Iraq explosion
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. — A Fort Campbell soldier was killed in Iraq when a roadside bomb detonated near his Humvee and enemy forces fired on him, the Army said Tuesday.
Spc. Clinton R. Upchurch, 31, of Garden City, Kan., died Saturday as he was patrolling in Samarra, the Army said.
Upchurch was an infantryman assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division.
Upchurch joined the Army in August 2004 and was assigned to Fort Campbell in March 2005.
He is survived by his wife, Kari, a stepson, Earl Stewart, and a foster child, Patrick, of Oak Grove, Ky.; a stepson Ryan Stewart, a member of the Army; and his parents, Gregory and Cynthia, of Garden City, Kan.
Upchurch worked for the Finney County (Kan.) Sheriff’s Office from 1997 to 2004, in the jail, on the Drug Enforcement Agency Taskforce and then as a patrol deputy, Finney County Undersheriff John Andrews said.
Including Upchurch, there have been 106 soldiers from Fort Campbell killed in the Iraq war.
Approximately 20,600 soldiers from Fort Campbell are currently deployed, and nearly 20,000 of those are from the 101st Airborne Division.
— Associated Press