November 5, 2006, a Homecoming was held at Fort Carson, Colorado for this unit. In this Company were friends - one we knew before they left for Iraq, and now, several. While the joy of homecoming was great, there is bittersweet in the loss of friends that did not come home. Our friends asked me to promise to let people know about their friends who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country. This is an emotional promise to keep. To keep that promise, I invite you into the tribute their friends gave them in Iraq. Unlike most tributes written here, these are people who personally touched our lives. We will never forget them. I hope you will remember them now.
"Real American Heroes - SPC Grant Dampier and SSG Marion Flint are the biggest heroes I have ever met who died in combat on 15 May 2006. I miss you and I will never forget you. See you an the flip side brudda'." (from an email from one of our friends)
The memorial for Staff Sgt. Marion Flint Jr., squad leader, and Spc. Grant Dampier, gunner, both from 2nd Platoon, Company B, 1-8 Combined Arms Battalion, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Task Force Band of Brothers, is displayed before the crowd of mourners at Forward Operating Base Paliwoda near Balad, Iraq
Staff Sgt Marion Flint, Jr., squad leader, and Spc Grant Dampier, gunner, both from 2nd Platoon, Company B, 1-8 CAB, were killed when an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle May 15.
"I will always bear a scar with this Band of Brothers and carry the leader's sense of responsibility for Marion's and Grant's death that day," said Capt. Keven Beattie, commander, Co. B, 1-8th CAB. "I take some solace knowing that these great Soldiers died doing what they always did, taking care of fellow Soldiers."
Flint joined the Army in 1997 and served with 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry during the initial ground invasion of Operation Iraqi Freedom I. Following his deployment, Flint moved to Fort Carson, Colorado, and joined Co. B, 1-8 CAB where he was a squad leader in 2nd Platoon. he was deployed to Iraq in 2005 with 1-8 CAB where he again served his country with distinction.
"To most people, Staff Sgt Flint was Staff Sgt Flint, but to the 2nd Platoon and those close to him he was know as 'big Flint'", said 1st Lt. Aaron Hackett, platoon leader, 2nd Platoon, Co. B, 1-8 CAB. "If you had the misfortune of not knowing him, he was the guy in the weight room 10 times a day with arms the size of my legs! Staff Sgt. Flint was my go to squad leader on missions, he was focused on everything he did, from leading and training his men to attempting to beat everyone he knew at spades."
Staff Sgt Ausean Fields, master gunner, 2nd Platoon, Co. B, 1-8 CAB, and Flint were gym rats as well as comrades. Flint and Fields' son share the same birthday. It was hard for Fields to overcome the emotions of the loss of his friend while paying tribute to him at the podium during the ceremony. "On every November 4, I will put an extra candle on my son's cake. I pray you'll get to blow it out, 'cause I believe you're still here," said Fields. "I believe your spirit will cast a shadow as big as your physical frame. I know the good and bad times we had that must go unsaid will forever be some of the best times of my life."
Some of the many decorations Flint was awarded were the Purple Heart, Bronze Star and Meritorious Service Medal. Flint is survived by his wife Danielle, daughter Dyamond and son Malik.
Dampier joined the Army in 2004 and after completing basic training and advance individual training he was assigned to Fort Carson, Colorado. He joined Co B, 1-8 CAB as an infantryman where he served as a gunner for a Humvee and a Bradley Fighting Vehicle. He was deployed to Iraq with the Iron Brigade in December 2005 where he honorably served his unit and country. Before being deployed, he married his wife Heide, April 1, 2005. They have three daughters: Alexis, Starr and Kylee.
"He was always talking to somebody, always joking around or teasing somebody, and he wouldn't hesitate to tell you his opinion or tell you if he thought you were wrong," said Sgt. James Craig, 3rd Squad team leader, 2nd Platoon, Co. B, 1-8 CAB. "He would stop by my house a lot just to hang out and relax, help me organize a barbecue or drink some beers and work on my motorcycle in the garage. If you didn't know how to do it, you could bet that Dampier did, and you knew he was always willing to lend you a hand."
After Craig left the podium, one of Dampier's closest friends spoke about how dedicated a family man he was.
"One night back at Carson, one of his kids called him about one o'clock in the morning," said Pfc. Tyler Daly, gunner for a Bradley, 2nd Platoon, Co. B, 1-8 CAB. "She was crying her eyes out, saying over and over, 'Daddy, come home'. Dampier loved his family and hated the fact that he had to spend so much time away."
Some of Dampier's awards include the Purple Heart, Bronze Star Medal and the Army Commendation Medal.
Before the conclusion of the memorial, Chaplain (Maj.) James Hartz, 3rd HBCT, gave the benediction discussing how to get through these hard times.
"We are here today because tow of the Fighting Eagles' family have died, killed by an unseen hand and it hurts," said Hartz. "We are here to help true healing go forward. We are here to honor men who were friends and fellow Soldiers; who were both brothers and heroes. We are here to acknowledge their lives, recognize their sacrifice and remember the contributions that made to the Soldiers they served with and the families they loved."
Article and Photos: PFC Paul Harris
3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team,
4th Infantry Division, Public Affairs