Christopher James Holland
Specialist, United States Army
Dec 18, 2003
DoD Identifies Army Casualty
The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Specialist Christopher J. Holland, 26, of Brunswick, Georgia, was killed on December 17, 2003, in Baghdad, Iraq. Holland was part of a dismounted patrol when his unit was ambushed with small arms fire. He died as a result of his injuries. Holland was assigned to Battery A, 4th Battalion, 27th Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Armored Division, based in Smith Barracks, Germany.
The incident is under investigation.
Military honor set for hero
Monday, December 29, 2003
Award of medals part of service for soldier slain in Iraq
Courtesy of the Brunswick News
The Purple Heart and the U.S. Army's Bronze Star medal will be presented to the family of Army Specialist Christopher J. Holland Tuesday in Arlington, Virginia.
Holland, 26, will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery following a graveside service with standard military honors that is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday. Holland, a native of Brunswick, died in Baghdad, Iraq, on December 17, 2003, of wounds received when his unit was ambushed by small arms fire while on patrol.
Kerry Sullivan, a spokesperson for Arlington National Cemetery, said the funeral service will last about 30 minutes.
Ms. Sullivan said Holland will be buried in Section 60 of the nation's military cemetery, a section devoted to casualties of Operation Iraqi Freedom. According to the privately maintained Web site, www.arlingtoncemetery.net, Holland is the 44th of 45 casualties of Operation Iraqi Freedom to be buried or inurned at Arlington.
Ms. Sullivan said a six-member Army casket team attached to the 3rd U.S. Infantry, the Old Guard, will carry Holland's casket to the gravesite, where a chaplain will preside over the service.
"Then, a series of Army honors are rendered for his military service. The first one would be a seven-member Army firing party which fires three shots into the air, three volleys people sometimes call them," Ms. Sullivan said. "A lot of people confuse this with the 21-gun salute, which it is not. That is rendered only for the president of the United States."
After the firing party is through, an Army bugler from Pershing's Own, the U.S. Army band, will play "Taps" for Holland. At the conclusion of "Taps," the casket team will fold the U.S. flag that will be held over Holland's casket for the duration of the service and present it to Holland's parents, Mary Jo Abbott Holland, formerly of Brunswick, and Jim Holland of Brunswick.
The Purple Heart and Bronze Star will then be presented to the Hollands, Ms. Sullivan said.
According to the Web site www.purpleheart.org, maintained by the Military Order of the Purple Heart, the Purple Heart medal is a combat decoration given to members of the U.S. armed forces who are "wounded by an instrument of war in the hands of the enemy or presented posthumously to the next of kin in the name of those who are killed in action or die of wounds received in action."
The Bronze Star medal, according to a description provided in U.S. Army regulations posted on the Internet, is awarded to "any person serving with the Army who distinguishes him or herself by heroic or meritorious achievement or service in connection with military operations against an armed enemy."
The final act in the ritual-laden ceremony that accompanies interment at Arlington is a visit from an "Arlington Lady."
The Arlington Ladies is a volunteer corps of military spouses who represent the Army, Navy and Air Force at each of the approximately 25 services held daily at Arlington.
At Holland's funeral, an Arlington Lady, escorted by soldiers of the Old Guard, will present Holland's family with a condolence card on behalf of the Chief of Staff of the Army, General Peter J. Schoomaker.
"It's just a way for the highest ranking officer
in the Army to extend his condolences," Ms. Sullivan said.
Whether there as family members, friends or just grateful Americans, hundreds of mourners filled the pews at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church Tuesday to honor the memory of a hometown hero, U.S. Army Specialist Christopher J. Holland.
Holland, a 26-year-old medic who fell December 17, 2003, to a sniper's bullet in Baghdad, Iraq, was memorialized during an hour-long Mass that drew some 500 people, according to estimates by funeral directors for Edo Miller and Sons Funeral Home.
Holland will be buried later at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.
"Certainly I am proud of what this young man has done and it's a tragic loss to his family and to our community," said Jimmy Durden, Glynn County coroner and a Miller employee who stood at the doors of the church greeting guests. "To have a little part in helping people pay their respects, that really makes me feel good."
As the Rev. Cletus Pifher sermonized inside the church about the supreme sacrifice Holland and his family gave to the causes of peace and freedom, Durden stood outside in unseasonable pre-Christmas warmth and reflected on the poignancy of that sacrifice.
Holland "gave his life like the Lord in pursuit of peace and freedom," Pifher said. "This is bigger than Christopher. It's bigger than the Holland family. This extends the world over. This person was part of this universe and he gave so much."
Pifher led the congregation in a tearful ceremony punctuated by the sad strains of "Taps" played by an Army bugler as a pair of soldiers dispatched from Fort Stewart solemnly presented a folded U.S. flag to Holland's father, Jim Holland.
The service ended with the singing of "Onward Christian Soldiers."
Had Holland been a soldier in any other conflict of years past, his death might not have occurred, Durden said, because the red medic's cross Holland wore on his sleeve would have shielded him from enemy fire.
In World War II, Japanese and German troops who saw such a cross on an American sleeve would not fire upon the individual wearing it. Americans, likewise, showed a similar respect for medics in enemy camps as they tended to their wounded comrades, Durden said.
"It's a different world today, though," he said, one that holds little regard for traditional symbols of good.
The fact that Holland was brave enough to face such an enemy makes him a hero for the people of his hometown and the nation he defended, U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, R-1, said after the Mass.
"When they put on that uniform they become everybody's son and daughter and their life is greater than their own," Kingston said. "As Alexis de Tocqueville said, 'America will cease being great when Americans cease being good.' The face of that is Chris Holland."
A collage of photographs on display in the vestry of the church revealed the Chris Holland of childhood and adulthood: a Boy Scout, a beloved son and younger brother, a mischievous teen and, finally, a serious soldier.
Holland's uncle, Bob Snow, described his nephew as an outgoing young man who was fun-loving and athletic, who "loved to laugh. He was always laughing."
Brunswick Mayor Brad Brown struggled mightily and not quite successfully to maintain his composure as he described the shock of seeing Holland's photograph beside a news account of his death.
"I looked at the picture in the paper and realized, 'I know that young man,'" Brown said. Addressing Holland's parents, Jim and Mary Jo Holland, who were seated in the front pew of the church alongside Holland's older sister, Amanda, Brown said: "This city, this nation is with you."
Although Holland left St. Francis Xavier Catholic School the year before Pifher came to the parish, Pifher saw in the photographs of Holland and the recollections of kith and kin "an ordinary boy in an ordinary family that paid an extraordinary price."
BRUNSWICK, GEORGIA - They came under brilliant blue skies to remember a brother, a son and a friend. But above all they came to remember a soldier: Specialist Christopher Holland.
The 26-year-old Army medic was gunned down last week while on patrol in Iraq. The Brunswick native was an alumnus of Valdosta State University and the fraternity brothers he left behind made the trip to honor Holland.
"More than anything we're proud," says John Cole who says Chris was always there, always willing to give advice. "He did give the ultimate sacrifice and that makes us more happy than anything. We're going to miss him and we love him."
More than 200 people filled St. Frances Xavier Church to remember the boy who was taken from his family much too soon. "Anytime you lose one that close, you're not supposed to lose a son or daughter," says Holland's uncle, Bob Snow. "You're supposed to lose a father or brother, so if one precedes you, it's very tough."
Even tougher for some to take was that Holland was supposed to be home in Brunswick in just a matter of weeks. He was expected back on leave in mid-January. His uncle says a big celebration was planned. College pal John Harris says Holland would've been in the place he loved most. "In college he'd come back here on the weekends to work and I think it was just because he loved the area. This was home and family is something he held very dear to his heart."
Thursday's service will not be the last gathering in memory of Holland. His family is expected to be there as he is bestowed the nation's highest military honor when he is interned in Arlington National Cemetery.
Memorial service for Brunswick man killed in Iraq scheduled for Tuesday
The family of a 26-year-old soldier from Brunswick who was killed last week in Iraq plans to honor him with a memorial service on Tuesday.
Army Specialist Christopher J. Holland of the 1st Armored Division died Wednesday when his patrol unit in northwest Baghdad was ambushed with small arms fire, the Army said. He was the second U.S. soldier killed in Iraq since Saddams arrest.
The memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. at St. Francis Xavier Church and will be conducted with full military honors, said his father, Jim Holland.
His burial will follow at a later date at Arlington National Cemetery, Jim Holland said.
He deserves that honor, Jim Holland said of his decision to bury his son at Arlington rather than in Brunswick.
In addition to Hollands father, survivors include
his mother, Mary Jo Holland of Lunenburg, Mass., and a sister, Amanda Holland
Today's memorial mass for the first soldier Glynn County has lost on the battlefields of Iraq will be all the more poignant for Cathy Newbern since her son will be shipping out again in March.
Mrs. Newbern planned to close her beauty shop in Brunswick and attend the 11 a.m. mass at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church for U.S. Army Specialist Christopher J. Holland, 26, who died December 17, 2003, when his unit was ambushed while on patrol in Baghdad.
Holland's death struck a chord with the families of soldiers who have been to battle in Iraq and returned safely.
Linda Horne's struggle to hold back tears was audible even over the telephone Monday as she said, "My heart goes out to his family. I just could not imagine the heartbreak that they feel, and he's certainly a hero."
Mrs. Horne's son, U.S. Marine Corporal Michael Craig Horne, saw action in the earliest days of the war and returned home safely, only to be seriously injured in a car crash in California in May.
Wreck-related injuries will prevent him from being redeployed to Iraq with his unit in January.
U.S. Marine Corporal Clint Newbern will return to Iraq with his own unit in March, a fact that made the news of Holland's death all the more poignant for his mother.
Mrs. Newbern, who is acquainted with Holland's sister, Amanda Holland, learned of his death in a telephone call that came as she was stepping off a cruise ship in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
"I was just totally devastated," Mrs. Newbern said. "It just puts fear in you. It was so close and personal because it's home."
She told her husband, Johnny, and daughter, Aundrea, after all three had climbed into the van to leave the ship.
"There was dead silence in the van and driving off leaving the boat. Nobody could say anything. We all had to go into ourselves. We were all probably thinking the same thing. It could be us," Mrs. Newbern said.
The memorial mass will be difficult, she said, not only because of the loss of the young man it will honor, but also for the thought of who might be next.
"I know it's going to be hard because we're going to sit there and feel for the family as well as being petrified that it could be us any time," Mrs. Newbern said.
HOLLAND, CHRISTOPHER JAMES
SPC US ARMY
DATE OF BIRTH: 08/19/1977
DATE OF DEATH: 12/17/2003
BURIED AT: SECTION 60 SITE 8125
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
Posted: 23 December 2003 - Updated: 29 December 2003 Updated: 3 May 2004 Updated: 21 August 2005 Updated: 11 February 2006 Updated: 4 November 2006 Updated: 13 May 2008 Updated: 8 July 2011
Photo By M. R. Patterson, 4 July 2011
Photo By Michael Robert Patterson, May 2008
Photo By M. R. Patterson, 22 April 2004
Photos Courtsy of Holly, November 2006