- 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
- Task Force Sinai
- U.S. Africa Command Operations
- U.S. Central Command operations
- The People Behind The Sacrifice
Army Staff Sgt. Gary A. Vaillant
Died September 5, 2004 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom
41, of Trujillo, Puerto Rico; assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 72nd Armor, Camp Casey, Korea; killed Sept. 5 when his tank ran over an improvised explosive device in Khalidiya, Iraq.
Soldier’s family celebrates his life
RADCLIFF, Ky.— The family and friends of a soldier killed in Iraq gathered at his church to celebrate his life and ministry.
Staff Sgt. Gary A. Vaillant, 41, had led a Spanish-speaking congregation at the Radcliff Church of God and his funeral service was conducted in Spanish and English.
Vaillant died Sept. 5 in Khalidiya, when his tank ran over an explosive. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 72nd Armor, Camp Casey, Korea.
“Yes, I’m going to grieve for that smile,” said Bishop Larry Richardson, a pastor at the church. “...But he knew the way home and I’m not going to grieve for that.”
Vaillant’s 12-year-old daughter, Sarah, began the Sept. 15 service by singing “God Bless the USA.”
The song was one of Gary Vaillant’s favorites, said his wife, Michaela Vaillant.
During the service, Mike Brown said Gary Vaillant was more than a friend, he was an inspiration.
“He was not just a United States soldier,” Brown said. “He was a soldier of God.”
Vaillant also was posthumously presented with the Purple Heart for his actions. Members of the 16th Cavalry Regiment at Fort Knox served as the honor guard for the ceremony.
A native of Trujillo, Puerto Rico, Vaillant met his wife while salsa dancing when he was stationed in Germany. His wife, his daughter and his stepson, Andy, 22, live in Vine Grove.
Vaillant worked at Fort Knox from 1997 until he left for Korea in January, his wife said. Vaillant had been in the Army for 16 years, also serving in Operation Desert Storm in the early 1990s.
Veteran of two Persian Gulf wars killed in Iraq
VINE GROVE, Ky. — An Army tank commander with Kentucky roots has been killed in Iraq.
Staff Sgt. Gary A. Vaillant, 41, died Sunday in Khalidiya when his tank ran over an explosive. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 72nd Armor, based out of Camp Casey, Korea.
A native of Trujillo, Puerto Rico, Vaillant met his wife, Michaela, while salsa dancing when he was stationed in Germany. His wife, his 12-year-old daughter, Sarah, and his stepson, Andy, 22, live in Vine Grove.
“He was a good husband, a good father, a good friend and a good brother in the Lord,” said Radcliff resident Salomon Collazo, a member of Vaillant’s church.
Michaela Vaillant said her husband was very active in church, leading a Spanish-speaking congregation at the Church of God in Radcliff.
“He liked to be able to minister to people,” Michaela Vaillant said. “I know he was the preacher in his unit.”
The couple was married in 1996, with ceremonies in Germany and New York, where some of Gary Vaillant’s family lives. He was then deployed to Bosnia before being stationed at Fort Knox, where he worked from 1997 until he left for Korea in January, his wife said. Vaillant had been in the Army for 16 years, also serving in Operation Desert Storm in the early 1990s.
Members of his congregation at the church said Vaillant was an inspiration.
“He was always going around helping somebody,” said Michael Brown, a friend. “He was very spiritual. This man would take the shirt off his back for anybody.”
Vaillant is to be buried in Puerto Rico.
— Associated Press