Friday, November 5, 2004

Hamilton soldier killed in Baghdad

Third war-related death stuns school

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer contributor

Vanessa Foreman and Brad Ryan recall their brother-in-law, Sgt. Charles Webb, who was killed in Iraq.
Charles Webb and his high school sweetheart, Stephanie - his future wife -smiled for a Hamilton High School prom photo. He was killed by a bomb in Iraq Tuesday.
HAMILTON - Brad Ryan smiled as he pointed to a photo of Army Sgt. Charles "Chuck" Webb, one arm embracing two children, the other holding another child's hand.

"That was Chuckie. He was a very loving and gentle man. He just loved kids," Ryan said about his brother-in-law, who was killed in Iraq Wednesday. "He was a best friend to me."

Webb was guarding a convoy in Baghdad when a bomb detonated and he was hit in the head by shrapnel. He was the eighth Greater Cincinnati soldier killed since the war on terror began, and the third Hamilton High graduate.

Pfc. Marlin Rockhold, a 1998 Hamilton High graduate, was shot and killed while directing traffic at a Baghdad bridge in May 2003. Three months earlier, Army Sgt. Benjamin Moore, Rockhold's teammate on the 1996 Big Blue football team, was accidentally shot in the back at Fort Hood, Texas, while training for duty in Iraq.

Thursday, there was a moment of silence in memory of Webb at his alma mater. Principal Dennis Malone said engraved bricks honoring each of the graduates would be added to the school's plaza.

"I spent a lot of time with Charles. It breaks your heart. Charles didn't have it easy," said Mike Pavloff, assistant principal.

"I remember once when he was on leave," Pavloff said. "He helped with a local recruiter. He was very proud of what he had accomplished" in the Army.

Wednesday, family and friends gathered at the Lindenwald home Webb shared with his wife, Stephanie, his high school sweetheart whom he married after enlisting. There, they shared good times about the man who hoped to start college next year so he could eventually teach history.

Army Sgt. Charles Webb

"The best memory I ever had was when he got married," said Chris Bolser. "Chuckie started crying - he was so happy - and my sister wiped a tear out of his eye. He loved her. He took care of my sister."

Stephanie Webb broke down during a TV interview Wednesday and declined further comment.

Charles Webb, who graduated from Hamilton High in 2000, was a sergeant in Co. A, 82nd Engineering Battalion. He died just two weeks before his 23rd birthday and six weeks after a two-week leave he spent with family. His father, Conley Webb, was also a soldier, serving in the Vietnam War and Desert Storm.

"I had a lot of anger," said Vanessa Foreman, Webb's sister-in-law. "I kept asking myself, 'Is it worth it? Is it worth it?' Then about 11 p.m. I was talking to my brother who was in the military. That helped a lot. Chuckie was a hero."

It wasn't the first time Webb was injured. He received a Purple Heart when a bomb struck his Humvee and shrapnel hit him.

Webb's death put a face on the war for 17-year-old Billy Brown, who has already enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps, leaving in June after graduation.

"It kind of makes me angry. I know we're going to lose guys, but this, well, it hit home," said Brown, who is in Hamilton High's junior ROTC program. "I want to go there and fight for our country. The people who died over there - I view them as heroes."

Classmate Ryan Fackey, 16, also plans to enlist in the Marines after college, as have four other generations of his family.

He said he was proud of Webb and the others who are in the military. His brother, Patrick, is serving in Iraq.

"Somebody has to defend our freedom," Fackey said. "In war there will always be death. You pray for the best."

Region's losses

These Greater Cincinnati soldiers have been killed during the Iraq war:

• Pfc. Marlin Rockhold, 23, of Hamilton, killed by a sniper in Baghdad in May 2003.

• Army Sgt. Chad Keith, 21, of Batesville, Ind., killed by a roadside bomb in Baghdad in July 2003.

• Army Spc. James Christopher Wright, 27, of Delhi Township, killed in a firefight near Tikrit in September 2003.

• Army Sgt. Stephen Conover, 21, of Wilmington, killed along with 15 others in a Chinook helicopter downed by a missile in November 2003.

• Army Sgt. Charles Kiser, 37, formerly of Amelia, killed June 24 outside Mosul.

• Staff Sgt. Omer T. Hawkins II, 31, of Cherry Fork (Adams County), killed Oct. 14 when his military convoy was hit by a roadside bomb near Ar Ramadi.

• Army Sgt. Benjamin F. Moore II, 25, of Hamilton, fatally shot in February 2003 in Fort Hood, Texas, while training for deployment in Iraq.


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