Military Times
Honor The Fallen
Honoring those who fought and died in Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn
Search Our Database


Bookmark and Share

Army Staff Sgt. Robert C. Thornton Jr.

Died August 23, 2004 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

35, of Rainbow City, Ala.; assigned to the 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas; killed Aug. 23 when his patrol came under rocket-propelled grenade attack in Baghdad.

Alabama soldier killed in Iraq

Associated Press

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Staff Sgt. Robert C. “Robbie” Thornton Jr. grew up to be a soldier.

The son of a retired lieutenant colonel, Thornton “absolutely loved” being a soldier and planned to make the military his career, said his brother, Mark Thornton, in a telephone interview from the family home in Guntersville.

Robbie Thornton’s career was cut short Monday. He was killed when his patrol in Baghdad came under rocket-propelled grenade attack, according to a Department of Defense release. Thornton, 35, had been on active duty for 12 years and served in Operation Desert Storm as a reservist before going on active duty.

“He was just a very fun-loving guy. He wore his heart on his sleeve,” Mark Thornton said as he remembered his brother. “He took good care of his family and took good care of his soldiers. His soldiers always loved him.”

Thornton grew up in north Alabama, mostly in the Guntersville area, graduated from Jacksonville High School and attended Jacksonville State University before joining the Army. His father, Robert Thornton Sr., is a retired Army lieutenant colonel and past president of the Alabama Wildlife Federation.

Robbie Thornton was living at Fort Hood, Texas, with his wife, Ellen, and children, Bradley, 5, and Breanna, 2, when he was sent to Iraq several months ago. He was a member of the 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division.

Mark Thornton said his brother had no regrets about fighting for his country in Iraq.

“He was excited about being there,” he said.

Mark Thornton said military officials came to his father’s house in Guntersville at about 8 p.m. on Monday to inform the family that Robbie Thornton had been killed in Iraq.

Mark Thornton said his brother had tried to call home a couple of weeks ago.

“He just left us a message. That was the last we heard from him,” Mark Thornton said.

Before going to Fort Hood, Robbie Thornton had worked for three years as an Army recruiter in Albertville. Mark Thornton said his brother had no plans to get out of the Army.

“His plans were to stick with the military until they kicked him out,” Mark Thornton said.

He said funeral arrangements for his brother are incomplete, but there will be a service at the Church of the Epiphany in Guntersville and the family is working to make arrangements for him to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

In addition to his wife, children and father, Robbie Thornton is survived by his mother, Dominique Thornton of Belen, N.M.; and five brothers and sisters, Mark and Lief Thornton of Guntersville, Scott Thornton of Denver, Colo., Jan Thornton of Tahlequah, Okla., and Dr. Charlotte Thornton of Newport News, Va.

Soldier killed in Iraq eulogized at Alabama service

GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. — Family and friends of Staff Sgt. Robert C. Thornton Jr., who was killed in Iraq on Aug. 23, gathered at a Guntersville church for a memorial service.

The 35-year-old tank commander served in the Army’s 1st Cavalry Division, based in Fort Hood, Texas. When killed, he was in a tank struck by a rocket-propelled grenade in Baghdad.

Thornton was remembered Friday with tears, laughter and honor by friends, family and those who served with him.

Capt. Nathan Palisca worked almost four years with Thornton, who was known as “Robbie.”

A few things were obvious about Thornton, Palisca said, “His passions shone through: the Army, Tony Stewart and NASCAR, tanks, and his family and friends, in no particular order.”

Thornton’s sister, Dr. Charlotte Thornton, and Sgt. 1st Class Brad Bryan read letters from the soldiers and officers who had served with Thornton.

An Army general read citations from acting Secretary of the Army Les Brownlee, giving official notice of Thornton’s sacrifice with the awarding of the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.

With military honors, Thornton’s ashes were interred in the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany’s Prayer Garden after the service.

Survivors include his wife, Ellen, a native of Rainbow City, Ala., and two children, six-year-old Bradley and three-year-old Brianna; and parents Robert C. Thornton Sr. of Guntersville and Dominique Thornton of Belen, N.M.

— Associated Press

View By Year & Month

2002   2001

Military Times
© 2018 Sightline Media Group
Not A U.S. Government Publication