4 comments on “Fallen But Not Forgotten – IED claims the lives of 4 Indiana National Guard in Afghanistan. Did you know them?

  1. Indiana soldier killed in Afghanistan laid to rest

    The Associated Press

    HAMMOND, Ind. — A northwestern Indiana soldier who was among four Indiana National Guardsmen killed in a bombing in Afghanistan has been laid to rest.

    The Times of Munster reports that the main floor of First Baptist Church’s auditorium in Hammond was at near capacity during Wednesday’s funeral for 21-year-old Sgt. Brian Leonhardt of Merrillville.

    Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels attended the service and was one of the speakers. He told mourners that “Indiana is proud” of Leonhardt, who was buried after the services at Memory Lane Memorial Park in Schererville.

    Leonhardt was one of four Indiana National Guard soldiers from the Valparaiso-based 713th Engineering Company killed Jan. 6 in a roadside bombing in southern Afghanistan.

    His funeral was streamed over the Internet so members of the company in Afghanistan could watch.

    ——————————————————————————–

    IED blast sends ripples through close community

    By Michelle Tan
    Staff writer

    Spc. Robert J. Tauteris Jr. re-enlisted last summer so he could deploy to Afghanistan with his son.

    On Jan. 8, the younger Tauteris, also named Robert, performed the most solemn duty asked of a son. He escorted his father’s remains home from Afghanistan.
    Robert Tauteris Jr., 44, of Hamlet, Ind., and three other soldiers were killed Jan. 6 when their vehicle struck a roadside bomb. The soldiers belonged to the Indiana National Guard’s 713th Engineer Company, which has its headquarters in Valparaiso.

    The incident highlights the bonds that are woven through National Guard units like the 713th, where soldiers and their families live, work and serve together in communities across the country.

    “In the Guard, it’s everywhere,” said an obviously distraught Maj. Gen. Martin Umbarger, adjutant general of the Indiana Guard. “We are community-based. We don’t live on forts. We live in communities. Almost every time we send our units out, it’s almost the exception when someone’s not [in the same unit with] a brother or father or son.

    “That’s just part of our culture. It is family.”

    The younger Tauteris belongs to the same company as his father, but the men were assigned to different platoons. The other three soldiers killed were:

    * Staff Sgt. Jonathan M. Metzger, 32, of Indianapolis.

    * Spc. Brian J. Leonhardt, 21, of Merrillville, Ind. Leonhardt was posthumously promoted to sergeant.

    * Spc. Christopher A. Patterson, 20, of Aurora, Ill.

    A fifth soldier, Pfc. Douglas Rachowicz, of Hammond, Ind., survived the blast but suffered multiple injuries and as of Jan. 11 was in a medically induced coma at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Bethesda, Md.

    According to media reports, Rachowicz’s future brother-in-law was in the vehicle behind his and was one of the first soldiers to reach the destroyed vehicle.
    The deaths of the four soldiers is the biggest single loss for the Indiana Guard since March 2005, when four soldiers from the state’s 76th Brigade Combat Team were killed by a land mine in Afghanistan.

    Since Sept. 11, 2001, 23 Indiana Guard soldiers have been killed in combat.

    The 713th Engineer Company, led by Capt. Cecil Pendleton, mobilized for training in October and deployed to Afghanistan in mid-November, said Lt. Col. Steve Hines, commander of the 113th Engineer Battalion.

    The 113th is the parent unit of the 713th but is not currently deployed.

    On Jan. 6, soldiers from 2nd Platoon, 713th Engineer Company, moved out from Forward Operating Base Frontenac in Kandahar province to clear a route they regularly had to sweep for improvised explosive devices, Hines said.

    The eight-vehicle convoy was about 20 minutes away from the FOB when the third vehicle, an RG 31 mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle equipped with mine rollers in the front, hit an IED buried in the unpaved road, Hines said.

    The four soldiers killed that day were the first casualties suffered by the company during this deployment, said Staff Sgt. Les Newport, a spokesman for the Indiana Guard.
    “Each time I talk to [Pendleton], they’re getting better and better and stronger,” he said. “They’re noticeably and understandably shaken. At times, they’re fine. Then an individual might see something that reminds them of their loss.”

    The soldiers are conducting missions again, he said.

    “They’re back in the saddle, I guess you’d put it,” Hines said. “They’re taking it slow and regaining confidence in themselves and their equipment.”
    The soldiers’ route-clearance mission is critical, Umbarger said.

    “They’re trying to get back out there,” he said. “The grief will always be there, but the job goes on.”

    Rachowicz, 29, is expected to survive, but he is still in a lot of pain, Hines said.

    “He’s just in so much pain they can’t take him out of the coma,” he said, adding that Rachowicz faces a long, difficult recovery.

    As for the younger Tauteris, he will be allowed to decide if he wants to stay in the U.S. or return to Afghanistan, Hines said.

    “He will be allowed to decide what’s best for him and his family,” Hines said. “Not only was he the son of one of our fallen and deployed with him, but he was also the primary next of kin.”

    The 713th Engineer Company is expected to return home this summer.

    The Indiana Guard has received overwhelming support since news of the soldiers’ deaths reached home, Umbarger said.

    “It sucks the air out of you,” he said. “It’s a phone call you hope you never get. It makes it doubly, quadruply tough, but as always, we have to start thinking about making certain we do the proper notifications for the families, and we wanted to take that on ourselves. This is our family.”

    The state Guard dispatched “numerous” casualty notification and assistance officers to work with the families of the fallen, he said.
    The response from the Army and its senior leaders has been tremendous, Umbarger said.

    Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Gen. Pete Chiarelli, the Army vice chief of staff; and Lt. Gen. William Ingram, director of the Army National Guard, attended the dignified transfer ceremony for the soldiers at Dover Air Force Base, Del.

    “That was special, and I thank them for making that trip,” Umbarger said.

    Hines agreed.

    “Just the outpouring of support from within the military, all the way back home, it’s been amazing to watch all that happen,” he said. “It speaks volumes about how we take care of our fallen heroes and warriors.”

  2. Guard member’s body returns to Indiana hometown

    The Associated Press

    INDIANAPOLIS – The body of the commander of an Indiana National Guard unit that lost four members to a roadside bomb blast in Afghanistan has been returned to central Indiana on Tuesday.

    WISH-TV reports a chartered jet brought the flag-draped casket of 32-year-old Staff Sgt. Jonathan Metzger to Indianapolis International Airport. Indiana Patriot Guard motorcyclists escorted the remains to a Greenwood funeral home.

    His funeral will be at 1 p.m. Friday at Indian Creek Christian Church in Indianapolis.

    Services for Sgt. Brian Leonhardt are Wednesday and Thursday in Crown Point and for Spc. Christopher Patterson on Saturday in Aurora, Ill.

    The funeral for Spc. Robert Tauteris Jr. of North Judson was Sunday.

    The four soldiers from the Valparaiso-based 713th Engineering Company died Jan. 6.

    ——————————————————————————–

    IED blast sends ripples through close community

    By Michelle Tan
    Staff writer

    Spc. Robert J. Tauteris Jr. re-enlisted last summer so he could deploy to Afghanistan with his son.

    On Jan. 8, the younger Tauteris, also named Robert, performed the most solemn duty asked of a son. He escorted his father’s remains home from Afghanistan.
    Robert Tauteris Jr., 44, of Hamlet, Ind., and three other soldiers were killed Jan. 6 when their vehicle struck a roadside bomb. The soldiers belonged to the Indiana National Guard’s 713th Engineer Company, which has its headquarters in Valparaiso.

    The incident highlights the bonds that are woven through National Guard units like the 713th, where soldiers and their families live, work and serve together in communities across the country.

    “In the Guard, it’s everywhere,” said an obviously distraught Maj. Gen. Martin Umbarger, adjutant general of the Indiana Guard. “We are community-based. We don’t live on forts. We live in communities. Almost every time we send our units out, it’s almost the exception when someone’s not [in the same unit with] a brother or father or son.

    “That’s just part of our culture. It is family.”

    The younger Tauteris belongs to the same company as his father, but the men were assigned to different platoons. The other three soldiers killed were:

    * Staff Sgt. Jonathan M. Metzger, 32, of Indianapolis.

    * Spc. Brian J. Leonhardt, 21, of Merrillville, Ind. Leonhardt was posthumously promoted to sergeant.

    * Spc. Christopher A. Patterson, 20, of Aurora, Ill.

    A fifth soldier, Pfc. Douglas Rachowicz, of Hammond, Ind., survived the blast but suffered multiple injuries and as of Jan. 11 was in a medically induced coma at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Bethesda, Md.

    According to media reports, Rachowicz’s future brother-in-law was in the vehicle behind his and was one of the first soldiers to reach the destroyed vehicle.
    The deaths of the four soldiers is the biggest single loss for the Indiana Guard since March 2005, when four soldiers from the state’s 76th Brigade Combat Team were killed by a land mine in Afghanistan.

    Since Sept. 11, 2001, 23 Indiana Guard soldiers have been killed in combat.

    The 713th Engineer Company, led by Capt. Cecil Pendleton, mobilized for training in October and deployed to Afghanistan in mid-November, said Lt. Col. Steve Hines, commander of the 113th Engineer Battalion.

    The 113th is the parent unit of the 713th but is not currently deployed.

    On Jan. 6, soldiers from 2nd Platoon, 713th Engineer Company, moved out from Forward Operating Base Frontenac in Kandahar province to clear a route they regularly had to sweep for improvised explosive devices, Hines said.

    The eight-vehicle convoy was about 20 minutes away from the FOB when the third vehicle, an RG 31 mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle equipped with mine rollers in the front, hit an IED buried in the unpaved road, Hines said.

    The four soldiers killed that day were the first casualties suffered by the company during this deployment, said Staff Sgt. Les Newport, a spokesman for the Indiana Guard.
    “Each time I talk to [Pendleton], they’re getting better and better and stronger,” he said. “They’re noticeably and understandably shaken. At times, they’re fine. Then an individual might see something that reminds them of their loss.”

    The soldiers are conducting missions again, he said.

    “They’re back in the saddle, I guess you’d put it,” Hines said. “They’re taking it slow and regaining confidence in themselves and their equipment.”
    The soldiers’ route-clearance mission is critical, Umbarger said.

    “They’re trying to get back out there,” he said. “The grief will always be there, but the job goes on.”

    Rachowicz, 29, is expected to survive, but he is still in a lot of pain, Hines said.

    “He’s just in so much pain they can’t take him out of the coma,” he said, adding that Rachowicz faces a long, difficult recovery.

    As for the younger Tauteris, he will be allowed to decide if he wants to stay in the U.S. or return to Afghanistan, Hines said.

    “He will be allowed to decide what’s best for him and his family,” Hines said. “Not only was he the son of one of our fallen and deployed with him, but he was also the primary next of kin.”

    The 713th Engineer Company is expected to return home this summer.

    The Indiana Guard has received overwhelming support since news of the soldiers’ deaths reached home, Umbarger said.

    “It sucks the air out of you,” he said. “It’s a phone call you hope you never get. It makes it doubly, quadruply tough, but as always, we have to start thinking about making certain we do the proper notifications for the families, and we wanted to take that on ourselves. This is our family.”

    The state Guard dispatched “numerous” casualty notification and assistance officers to work with the families of the fallen, he said.
    The response from the Army and its senior leaders has been tremendous, Umbarger said.

    Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Gen. Pete Chiarelli, the Army vice chief of staff; and Lt. Gen. William Ingram, director of the Army National Guard, attended the dignified transfer ceremony for the soldiers at Dover Air Force Base, Del.

    “That was special, and I thank them for making that trip,” Umbarger said.

    Hines agreed.

    “Just the outpouring of support from within the military, all the way back home, it’s been amazing to watch all that happen,” he said. “It speaks volumes about how we take care of our fallen heroes and warriors.”

  3. Valparaiso University honors student killed in Afghanistan

    The Associated Press

    VALPARAISO, Ind. – Valparaiso University will hold a memorial service for a student who took leave from his studies and was killed in Afghanistan while serving with an Indiana-based National Guard unit.

    Twenty-year-old Spc. Christopher A. Patterson of Aurora, Ill., and three other members of the Valparaiso-based 713th Engineering Company were killed Jan. 6 in an explosion in the Kandahar province of Afghanistan. Patterson was a sophomore music education major who took leave from his studies in the fall.

    University President Mark Heckler said Patterson embodied the spirit of service and thoughtful leadership that represents the students who attend the 4,000-student school in northwest Indiana.

    The service will be held Feb. 12 in the Chapel of the Resurrection and will include remembrances by fellow students and remarks from Heckler.

    ——————————————————————————–

    IED blast sends ripples through close community

    By Michelle Tan
    Staff writer

    Spc. Robert J. Tauteris Jr. re-enlisted last summer so he could deploy to Afghanistan with his son.

    On Jan. 8, the younger Tauteris, also named Robert, performed the most solemn duty asked of a son. He escorted his father’s remains home from Afghanistan.
    Robert Tauteris Jr., 44, of Hamlet, Ind., and three other soldiers were killed Jan. 6 when their vehicle struck a roadside bomb. The soldiers belonged to the Indiana National Guard’s 713th Engineer Company, which has its headquarters in Valparaiso.

    The incident highlights the bonds that are woven through National Guard units like the 713th, where soldiers and their families live, work and serve together in communities across the country.

    “In the Guard, it’s everywhere,” said an obviously distraught Maj. Gen. Martin Umbarger, adjutant general of the Indiana Guard. “We are community-based. We don’t live on forts. We live in communities. Almost every time we send our units out, it’s almost the exception when someone’s not [in the same unit with] a brother or father or son.

    “That’s just part of our culture. It is family.”

    The younger Tauteris belongs to the same company as his father, but the men were assigned to different platoons. The other three soldiers killed were:

    * Staff Sgt. Jonathan M. Metzger, 32, of Indianapolis.

    * Spc. Brian J. Leonhardt, 21, of Merrillville, Ind. Leonhardt was posthumously promoted to sergeant.

    * Spc. Christopher A. Patterson, 20, of Aurora, Ill.

    A fifth soldier, Pfc. Douglas Rachowicz, of Hammond, Ind., survived the blast but suffered multiple injuries and as of Jan. 11 was in a medically induced coma at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Bethesda, Md.

    According to media reports, Rachowicz’s future brother-in-law was in the vehicle behind his and was one of the first soldiers to reach the destroyed vehicle.
    The deaths of the four soldiers is the biggest single loss for the Indiana Guard since March 2005, when four soldiers from the state’s 76th Brigade Combat Team were killed by a land mine in Afghanistan.

    Since Sept. 11, 2001, 23 Indiana Guard soldiers have been killed in combat.

    The 713th Engineer Company, led by Capt. Cecil Pendleton, mobilized for training in October and deployed to Afghanistan in mid-November, said Lt. Col. Steve Hines, commander of the 113th Engineer Battalion.

    The 113th is the parent unit of the 713th but is not currently deployed.

    On Jan. 6, soldiers from 2nd Platoon, 713th Engineer Company, moved out from Forward Operating Base Frontenac in Kandahar province to clear a route they regularly had to sweep for improvised explosive devices, Hines said.

    The eight-vehicle convoy was about 20 minutes away from the FOB when the third vehicle, an RG 31 mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle equipped with mine rollers in the front, hit an IED buried in the unpaved road, Hines said.

    The four soldiers killed that day were the first casualties suffered by the company during this deployment, said Staff Sgt. Les Newport, a spokesman for the Indiana Guard.
    “Each time I talk to [Pendleton], they’re getting better and better and stronger,” he said. “They’re noticeably and understandably shaken. At times, they’re fine. Then an individual might see something that reminds them of their loss.”

    The soldiers are conducting missions again, he said.

    “They’re back in the saddle, I guess you’d put it,” Hines said. “They’re taking it slow and regaining confidence in themselves and their equipment.”
    The soldiers’ route-clearance mission is critical, Umbarger said.

    “They’re trying to get back out there,” he said. “The grief will always be there, but the job goes on.”

    Rachowicz, 29, is expected to survive, but he is still in a lot of pain, Hines said.

    “He’s just in so much pain they can’t take him out of the coma,” he said, adding that Rachowicz faces a long, difficult recovery.

    As for the younger Tauteris, he will be allowed to decide if he wants to stay in the U.S. or return to Afghanistan, Hines said.

    “He will be allowed to decide what’s best for him and his family,” Hines said. “Not only was he the son of one of our fallen and deployed with him, but he was also the primary next of kin.”

    The 713th Engineer Company is expected to return home this summer.

    The Indiana Guard has received overwhelming support since news of the soldiers’ deaths reached home, Umbarger said.

    “It sucks the air out of you,” he said. “It’s a phone call you hope you never get. It makes it doubly, quadruply tough, but as always, we have to start thinking about making certain we do the proper notifications for the families, and we wanted to take that on ourselves. This is our family.”

    The state Guard dispatched “numerous” casualty notification and assistance officers to work with the families of the fallen, he said.
    The response from the Army and its senior leaders has been tremendous, Umbarger said.

    Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Gen. Pete Chiarelli, the Army vice chief of staff; and Lt. Gen. William Ingram, director of the Army National Guard, attended the dignified transfer ceremony for the soldiers at Dover Air Force Base, Del.

    “That was special, and I thank them for making that trip,” Umbarger said.

    Hines agreed.

    “Just the outpouring of support from within the military, all the way back home, it’s been amazing to watch all that happen,” he said. “It speaks volumes about how we take care of our fallen heroes and warriors.”

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  4. IED blast sends ripples through close community

    By Michelle Tan
    Staff writer

    Spc. Robert J. Tauteris Jr. re-enlisted last summer so he could deploy to Afghanistan with his son.

    On Jan. 8, the younger Tauteris, also named Robert, performed the most solemn duty asked of a son. He escorted his father’s remains home from Afghanistan.
    Robert Tauteris Jr., 44, of Hamlet, Ind., and three other soldiers were killed Jan. 6 when their vehicle struck a roadside bomb. The soldiers belonged to the Indiana National Guard’s 713th Engineer Company, which has its headquarters in Valparaiso.

    The incident highlights the bonds that are woven through National Guard units like the 713th, where soldiers and their families live, work and serve together in communities across the country.

    “In the Guard, it’s everywhere,” said an obviously distraught Maj. Gen. Martin Umbarger, adjutant general of the Indiana Guard. “We are community-based. We don’t live on forts. We live in communities. Almost every time we send our units out, it’s almost the exception when someone’s not [in the same unit with] a brother or father or son.

    “That’s just part of our culture. It is family.”

    The younger Tauteris belongs to the same company as his father, but the men were assigned to different platoons. The other three soldiers killed were:

    * Staff Sgt. Jonathan M. Metzger, 32, of Indianapolis.

    * Spc. Brian J. Leonhardt, 21, of Merrillville, Ind. Leonhardt was posthumously promoted to sergeant.

    * Spc. Christopher A. Patterson, 20, of Aurora, Ill.

    A fifth soldier, Pfc. Douglas Rachowicz, of Hammond, Ind., survived the blast but suffered multiple injuries and as of Jan. 11 was in a medically induced coma at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Bethesda, Md.

    According to media reports, Rachowicz’s future brother-in-law was in the vehicle behind his and was one of the first soldiers to reach the destroyed vehicle.
    The deaths of the four soldiers is the biggest single loss for the Indiana Guard since March 2005, when four soldiers from the state’s 76th Brigade Combat Team were killed by a land mine in Afghanistan.

    Since Sept. 11, 2001, 23 Indiana Guard soldiers have been killed in combat.

    The 713th Engineer Company, led by Capt. Cecil Pendleton, mobilized for training in October and deployed to Afghanistan in mid-November, said Lt. Col. Steve Hines, commander of the 113th Engineer Battalion.

    The 113th is the parent unit of the 713th but is not currently deployed.

    On Jan. 6, soldiers from 2nd Platoon, 713th Engineer Company, moved out from Forward Operating Base Frontenac in Kandahar province to clear a route they regularly had to sweep for improvised explosive devices, Hines said.

    The eight-vehicle convoy was about 20 minutes away from the FOB when the third vehicle, an RG 31 mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle equipped with mine rollers in the front, hit an IED buried in the unpaved road, Hines said.

    The four soldiers killed that day were the first casualties suffered by the company during this deployment, said Staff Sgt. Les Newport, a spokesman for the Indiana Guard.
    “Each time I talk to [Pendleton], they’re getting better and better and stronger,” he said. “They’re noticeably and understandably shaken. At times, they’re fine. Then an individual might see something that reminds them of their loss.”

    The soldiers are conducting missions again, he said.

    “They’re back in the saddle, I guess you’d put it,” Hines said. “They’re taking it slow and regaining confidence in themselves and their equipment.”
    The soldiers’ route-clearance mission is critical, Umbarger said.

    “They’re trying to get back out there,” he said. “The grief will always be there, but the job goes on.”

    Rachowicz, 29, is expected to survive, but he is still in a lot of pain, Hines said.

    “He’s just in so much pain they can’t take him out of the coma,” he said, adding that Rachowicz faces a long, difficult recovery.

    As for the younger Tauteris, he will be allowed to decide if he wants to stay in the U.S. or return to Afghanistan, Hines said.

    “He will be allowed to decide what’s best for him and his family,” Hines said. “Not only was he the son of one of our fallen and deployed with him, but he was also the primary next of kin.”

    The 713th Engineer Company is expected to return home this summer.

    The Indiana Guard has received overwhelming support since news of the soldiers’ deaths reached home, Umbarger said.

    “It sucks the air out of you,” he said. “It’s a phone call you hope you never get. It makes it doubly, quadruply tough, but as always, we have to start thinking about making certain we do the proper notifications for the families, and we wanted to take that on ourselves. This is our family.”

    The state Guard dispatched “numerous” casualty notification and assistance officers to work with the families of the fallen, he said.
    The response from the Army and its senior leaders has been tremendous, Umbarger said.

    Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Gen. Pete Chiarelli, the Army vice chief of staff; and Lt. Gen. William Ingram, director of the Army National Guard, attended the dignified transfer ceremony for the soldiers at Dover Air Force Base, Del.

    “That was special, and I thank them for making that trip,” Umbarger said.

    Hines agreed.

    “Just the outpouring of support from within the military, all the way back home, it’s been amazing to watch all that happen,” he said. “It speaks volumes about how we take care of our fallen heroes and warriors.”

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