- NATO Kosovo Force
- Operation Allies Refuge
- 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
- Task Force Sinai
- U.S. Africa Command Operations
- U.S. Central Command operations
- The People Behind The Sacrifice
Army Staff Sgt. Erickson H. Petty
Died May 3, 2004 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom
28, of Fort Gibson, Okla.; assigned to Headquarters, Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 35th Armor Regiment, 1st Armored Division, Smith Barracks, Baumholder, Germany; killed by small-arms fire May 3 while conducting security of a weapons cache in Salman al Habb, Iraq.
Fort Gibson mourns Colorado soldier killed in Iraq
By Clayaton Bellamy
FORT GIBSON, Okla. — Staff Sgt. Eric Petty, who gave up his military recruiting job in Colorado to fight in Iraq, was remembered in May 11 funeral services as a brave, dedicated soldier devoted to family and church.
Hundreds of family members, friends and fellow soldiers mourned as Petty was buried at Fort Gibson National Cemetery. Under the shade of a brick pavilion, Petty’s relatives sobbed as seven soldiers each fired three shots and a bugler blew Taps.
“Eric Petty was a patriot,” pastor Tom Barlament said. “Eric Petty was a hero. Eric Petty loved his country.”
Petty, 28, who grew up in Fort Gibson, was killed by small arms fire May 3 while providing security at a weapons cache in Salman Al Habb, Iraq.
Petty, who would have turned 29 a day later, was married to his high school sweetheart, Kim, and had a 9-year-old son, Colton.
The U.S. flag covering Petty’s casket was folded tightly into a triangle and presented to a weeping Kim Petty. His Bronze Star, Purple Heart and two Army Commendation medals were placed with the flag in a triangular box.
Burial followed an hour-long service at First Baptist Church.
Barlament, who was Petty’s pastor in Grand Junction, Colo., read memories of Petty his family had written onto index cards and Staff Sgt. Mark Juliano read tributes from Petty’s fellow soldiers.
“He never complained,” read one of the statements. “He never showed the slightest bit of fear. He was the bravest man I have ever known.”
Another said: “Sgt. Petty was a warrior and the epitome of a combat leader.”
Rep. Scott McInnis, R-Colo., read a statement on the House floor Tuesday, saying Petty showed outstanding bravery. Petty and his men had come under fire and he was hustling them into vehicles when he was shot.
“Eric could have stayed on as a recruiter, but his deep love of his country led him to take a position on the front lines,” McInnis said. “If not for his leadership, many more would have lost their lives.”
Petty, who was assigned to Headquarters Company, First Battalion, 35th Armored Regiment, 1st Armored Division in Germany, had been in Iraq since May 4, 2003. He had served three years as an Army recruiter in Grand Junction before volunteering to go to Iraq.
Oklahoma soldier killed by small arms fire in Iraq
FORT GIBSON, Okla. — Army Staff Sgt. Eric Petty died while heroically helping his fellow soldiers escape an Iraqi ambush, family members said.
Petty’s father-in-law, J.W. Langton, said he was told May 3 that Petty commanded his soldiers to get into their Humvees when the ambush started.
“He was the last one to get in and they shot him,” Langton said. “His wingman notified our daughter and told her everything that took place. He was responsible for his men. They said if it hadn’t have been for him, more lives would have been lost.”
The Department of Defense said that Petty, 28, of Fort Gibson, was killed by small arms fire on May 3 while providing security at a weapons cache in Salman Al Habb, Iraq.
Petty, who would have turned 29 on May 4, was married to his high-school sweetheart, Kim, and had a 9-year-old son, Colton.
“He left us with a lot of good memories, and he was a really fine young man,” said Jerry Langton, Petty’s mother-in-law. “He took care of his family and he was a very devoted father.”
Petty joined the National Guard as a junior in high school. He graduated from Fort Gibson High School in 1993.
After high school, Petty married Kim Langton, who graduated from Fort Gibson High School a year before him, Jerry Langton said. She said Petty was an Army recruiter for three years before he and his family were sent to Germany.
Petty, who was assigned to Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 35th Armor Regiment, 1st Armored Division in Baumholder, Germany, had been in Iraq since May 4, 2003 — one day less than one year.
Flags around Fort Gibson flew at half-staff in honor of Petty. Services were pending at Foster-Petering Funeral Home in Muskogee. Petty will be buried in Fort Gibson National Cemetery, Jerry Langton said.
“He was a wonderful son,” Petty’s mother, Janet Petty, said. “It’s still real hard to talk about.”
Petty’s father, Ron, has been in the National Guard for 34 years and his brother, Kyle, is in the Air National Guard, she said.
-- Associated Press