Friday, July 06, 2007

Remembering the first Fallen: Sgt. Jacob L. Butler

When you here the number being of soldiers being killed in Iraq daily, some days many, others just a few, we loose sense that the numbers actually stand for lives. Lives with stories that have been ended. I hope to remember them all, find out as much as possible and then post a rememberance even though I am now meeting them for the first time.

Sgt. Jacob L. Butler :: Hometown: Wellsville, Kansas, U.S.
Age: 24 years old :: Died: April 1, 2003 in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Unit: Army, Headquarters Co., 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment

Incident: Killed by small-arms fire during a rocket-propelled grenade attack in Assamawah.

Official Report of his death

April 02, 200

The Department of Defense announced today the identification of the following two soldiers who were killed in action during Operation Iraqi Freedom. They are:

Sgt. Jacob L. Butler, 24, was assigned to Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment, Fort Riley, Kan. He was killed in action on April 1, 2003, in Assamawah, Iraq, when a rocket-propelled grenade hit his vehicle. Butler was from Wellsville, Kan.

Spc. Brandon J. Rowe, 20, was assigned to C Company, 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky. He was killed in action on March 31, 2003, in Ayyub, Iraq, by enemy artillery. Rowe was from Roscoe, Ill. (1.)

Messages from his friends --after his death.

"Sgt Butler, this is Spc Kerns, i am a medic with the 307th Eng Bn in the 82nd abn div, i was there with you in the aid station when your vehicle was hit, i was the one trying to breath for you. nothing felt real. i am sorry for your family and friends. i wish i could have saved all the soldiers i came across. you will never be forgotten. thank you for what you did for us."
Spc Michael Kerns "Doc" of Ft Bragg NC

"i told you people would talk about you jake. wish the subject was better.i was jakes driver on the day of the attack and had the honer and privelage to serve with him from march 02 till that day. im there right now in baghdad fighting in your honer. i love you jake rest in peace brother
brandon k scanlon of hhc i-41 infantry

"have a cold one waiting for me bro"
8ball of iraq

"We Love You And Miss You Happy Birthday!"
Your Family of Wellsville , Kansas

"I worked for Jake and was a very close friend to him. He was always there up to the last moment helping me out. I was in the firefight that Jake was killed in and I know that he died helping us get out of there. I love you Jake and I owe my life to you."
SPC Kenneth Davis of Fort Riley, KS

"Jeez, it seems like just yesterday, we were sharing an apartment outside of Ft. Hood and then I get the news...... what are we to do without you. I feel awful that I couldn't have been there with you, but alas we all go our seperate ways. I saw SSG Mack a while back and we talked about you. Sfc. Heeter was there along with Rod and Blizz. We know you did the right thing, only wish it would've been different. We miss you and feel your family's loss, for you were a part of ours as well. We love you and always will."
Sgt. Newell of 1/509TH ING BN (ABN)

Other reports: Local News:

Butler graduated from Wellsville High School in 1996 and was remembered as a hard-working youngster, well-liked and respected.

Debbie Nolke owns the grocery store where Butler worked for about four years while in high school. He started as a stock boy and eventually was locking up the store at night. Nolke recalled he was responsible and "a real hard worker." Like others in town, she knew him as Jake.

Nolke said she asked Butler's family about their son each time they were in the store, but she heard about his death from a customer.

"Yesterday, they said he was guarding prisoners in Kuwait and today we heard this," Nolke said. "It was a great loss for the community and for the nation."

Librarian Becky Dodd remembered how Butler carried groceries to her car.

"He wouldn't take a tip for taking out my groceries," Dodd said. "I tried, I remember that."

Army officials told Butler's parents, Cindy and James Butler, that their son died in Assamawah, Iraq, when a rocket-propelled grenade hit his vehicle.

Jerad Rhoades worked with Butler at the grocery store and like many others in town summed him up in two words - "nice guy."

"He was always nice to everybody. It didn't matter who you were, he was always friendly," Rhoades said.

Joe Butler, Jacob's twin brother, said, "I just know for a fact that he died fighting for our freedom and doing something that he loves to do."

Joe Butler said his brother joined the Army in 1998. He was stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, and transferred to Fort Riley in November 2001.(2_

Other reports: AP News:

As Jacob Butler's family bands together, his father is reminded of the reason his son was serving in Iraq. "He was kind, care-giving and loving," Jim Butler said. Butler of Wellsville, Kan., and based at Fort Riley, was killed April 1 by a rocket-propelled grenade. (3)

Butler Range Complex

The 1st Armored Division built a multi-purpose range complex at a location to the east of Baghdad (what the Iraqis used to call Kirzah. The Butler Range Complex will allow the soldiers of this division to continue to hone their gunnery skills in everything from small arms to tank and rocket gunnery.

The range is named in honor of Sgt. Jacob L. Butler, the first 1AD soldier killed during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Butler, a scout for 3rd BCT's 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment, died during one of the first heavy engagements of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The battalion was supporting elements of the 82nd Airborne Division in and around the southern Iraqi town of as-Samwah when they ran into heavy opposition near a bridge as they crossed the Euphrates River. The battalion's scouts were sent forward to assess the enemy's strength on the far side of the bridge. When a fellow scout was wounded after a rocket-propelled grenade struck his vehicle, Butler went forward to continue the reconnaissance mission and rescue his fellow Soldier. He was killed when small-arms fire and an RPG struck his vehicle. Butler was the first Soldier from the 1st Armored Division to die in Iraq during OIF. His death stunned the battalion. "Sgt. Butler took the fight to the enemy so the enemy couldn't bring the fight to us," said 3rd BCT commander Col. Russ Gold during the dedication ceremony. "His actions that day saved the lives of his fellow Soldiers and countless others that followed."

In the outskirts of Baghdad, the sounds of mortar rounds and tank blasts echo over a barren desert and Soldiers fight invisible enemies. It sounds like a war, but the ammunition fired is not from the heat of battle but rather a controlled training environment. Soldiers from 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, are supporting the Butler Range Compound. The service they provide allows units stationed in Iraq, as well as Iraqi forces, to conduct vital training. In November 2004 soldiers from 2 BCT provide force protection security for the small, isolated training base. This frees units to conduct training without incident.
The sounds of sporadic small arms fire and explosions have become commonplace here in recent months, but 20 miles east of Baghdad, a remote desert area, the sounds will be a constant. A new weapons firing range, known as the Kirzah Range, was built for coalition forces and will soon be fully functional. The opening date was scheduled 10 October 2003; however four ranges were open by late September. Ground was broken for the site Aug. 13. Built by the 1457th Engineer Battalion, a Utah Army National Guard unit and the 203rd Engineer Battalion, a Missouri Army National Guard unit, the site has all amenities of existing Army compounds in Iraq, and maybe even more than most.

"The intent is having a permanent range for as long as the U.S. is here," said Capt. Lance Pearce, A Company commander, 203rd Engineer Battalion. As of late September 2003 there were 46 16-by-32 foot barracks, large enough to hold 10 soldiers comfortably and up to 18 at maximum capacity. Nine structures will be home for the permanent party range controllers. All will be equipped with air conditioning and electricity. Restrooms equipped with showers, sink and toilets are under construction as well as a dining facility and a laundry facility. According to Pearce, up to 500 soldiers can live in the area at one time.

More than 300 engineers from the 203rd Engineer Battalion have taken on the task of building the wooden structures. For security purposes, the 1457th Engineer Battalion formed a berm with the use of heavy equipment. The work can be very rewarding for the soldiers. "Many of the soldiers do this in the civilian world," said Pearce.

Encompassing 56 square kilometers, there will be eight different types of ranges at the site which will include small arms firing, squad live fire, aviation, Paladins and artillery position, convoy live fire and machinegun transition, according to Sgt. First Class Bill Courchen, 1st Armored Division's Bradley master gunner. Courchen said the schedule of those units designated to use the range has already been made for the next six months. Each brigade will have six to eight weeks to use the range. "All weapons systems organic to the division will be able to shoot here," Courchen said.

Brig. Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, 1st Armored Division's (AD) Assistant Division Commander (Maneuver), and Command Sgt. Maj. Nathaniel Hopkins, 3rd Brigade Combat Team Command Sergeant Major, unveil a sign marking the opening of the Butler Range Complex, Nov. 7, 2003. The first range of its type anywhere in Iraq, Butler Range Complex is capable of supporting various types of tank, artillery and infantry gunnery training, which is critical to maintaining a Soldier's war-fighting skills. The maneuver battalions in 3rd BCT have already begun blasting away at targets on the range, honing their skills should they be needed again in Iraq.

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