Christopher Lee Hoskins
Specialist, United States Army
June 23, 2005
Media Contact: Army Public Affairs - (703) 692-2000 Public/Industry Contact: (703)428-0711
DoD Identifies Army Casualties
The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died on June 21, 2005, in Ramadi, Iraq, where their unit was conducting combat operations, and were attacked by enemy forces using small arms fire. Both soldiers were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colorado.
Specialist Christopher L. Hoskins, 21, of Danielson,
For further information related to this release, contact Army Public Affairs at (703) 692-2000.
Soldier to get Arlington burial
Christopher Hoskins of Danielson was killed in Iraq.
By JESSICA DURKIN
KILLINGLY, CONNECTICUT - A soldier from Danielson who died in Iraq will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery, his mother said at a news conference Saturday.
Christopher Hoskins' body arrived around Wednesday at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware and will be flown home to Eastern Connecticut in a few days, military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel John Whitford said. After a local memorial service, Hoskins then will be flown to Virginia for a military burial in Arlington.
Hoskins was killed along with an Alabama soldier Tuesday when they were attacked by enemy small-arms fire. Christopher Hoskins was an Army specialist assigned to the 1st Battalion of the 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, based in Fort Carson, Colorado. He drove a Bradley fighting vehicle and was a gunner on a Humvee.
Claudia Hoskins was told of her son's death Wednesday morning when military casualty officers came to her home. She was in the bathroom, she recounted, applying her make-up before she was about to leave for work.
"There was a knock at the door and I saw two servicemen," Hoskins said. "And I knew what the news was. ... It feels like your heart's been ripped out."
Hoskins spoke to reporters with her daughter, Kristin Mayo, 23. The two reminisced about the son and brother, taking cues from a collection of photos on display that highlighted his 21-year life.
Hoskins said when her son enlisted, part of his training was to discuss with family the possibility of death, and what to do in that event. Hoskins said she and her son talked about fighting in a war and possible outcomes. Christopher Hoskins would have been stationed in Iraq one year this August.
"I have no regrets about those conversations," Hoskins said.
The Army specialist was the 25th military person with ties to Connecticut to die in the war in Iraq. Hoskins said she has not spoken to other parents of deceased Connecticut soldiers, but there has been an outpouring of support.
"The phone rings constantly," Hoskins said. "It's something we haven't had the opportunity to do (yet)."
Hoskins said her son was eager to enlist in the military and it was something he began talking about in high school. She said she talked to her son about twice a month, or more frequently through instant messaging. She saw her son two times in the past seven months when he visited at New Years and again in May.
"You don't realize how special those times are," Hoskins said. "He was talking about saving his money, like any young man, to buy a pickup truck. He was excited about going to Colorado."
A memorial fund will be set up, as per the soldier's wishes, that will go toward Killingly Public Schools.
Mayo said her brother liked military life and was committed to the war effort.
"He said he just re-enlisted," Mayo said. "He
wanted to be there. He was ready to come home and move along in his duties."
Army Specialist Christopher Lee Hoskins, who was killed in combat in Iraq last month, will be cremated. His ashes will be interred July 14, 2005, in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. That's appropriate; Arlington is where America lays to rest its military heroes.
Specialist Hoskins was remembered by family and friends Saturday at a memorial service in Killingly. He was loved and well liked.
Specialist Hoskins was recalled fondly as a guy who favored "gothic" clothing and loved the band, Metallica. At the same time, he was a disciplined member of the Killingly High School wrestling team and helped to create the archery club.
The son of Richard Hoskins of Danielson and Claudia Hoskins of Danielson, Specialist Hoskins, 21, was killed June 21, 2005, outside Arramadi, Iraq, when his unit was ambushed by terrorists.
For his gallantry, Specialist Hoskins has been awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star.
Days after he died, his mother said that Christopher "didn't have to go. The military gave him direction. He was very proud of his accomplishments."
No, he didn't have to go. Specialist Hoskins enlisted in January 2003, and he re-enlisted.
Christopher was a guy eager to lend a hand, help where it was needed, his father said.
"In a humble, quiet way, he stood tall," said Richard Hoskins.
Yes he did.
Few young men at anytime anywhere have stood
taller than did U.S. Army Specialist Christopher Lee Hoskins June 21 when
he gave his last measure of devotion for his country.
Back in school, Christopher L. Hoskins was always stepping in to help classmates who were being mistreated by other kids, neglected by family or ignored by teachers.
At 6-foot-3, he was the tallest in his class at Killingly High School in Killingly, Conn., but family members said he was among the most invisible, working behind the scenes to help mend the lives of those who needed it most.
Hoskins, 21, an Army specialist, was trying to do the same thing in Iraq, helping Iraqis create a free and democratic society, they said.
His efforts were cut short June 21 while his unit was conducting combat operations in Ramadi. Hoskins was caught in the line of machine-gun fire and killed. Specialist Brian A. "Alex" Vaughn, 23, of Pell City, Alabama, also died. Both soldiers were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colorado.
Yesterday, Hoskins's family gathered at Arlington National Cemetery to honor the son and brother they said found purpose and belonging in the military.
"Christopher was the boy next door who grew up in your back yard, played on your trampoline, swam in your pool and came to your birthday parties," said his father, Richard Hoskins. "He wasn't extraordinary or unusual, but what he was was an American who grew up in this country understanding, maybe not consciously, that we really believe in democracy and doing good for people, and that's what he thought he was doing for the people in Iraq."
Hoskins was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and Good Conduct Medal.
Schoolwork was a challenge for Hoskins. He struggled with Tourette's syndrome and learning disabilities as a child. His decision to enlist in the Army was not a surprise to those who said he lacked direction after he graduated from high school in 2001. For a time, he worked odd jobs. In late 2002, some of his peers who had enlisted talked to him about the future.
"It helped him understand the military could benefit him," his father recalled. "He was ready."
After basic training, Hoskins was deployed to Korea, where he served for a year. His unit was transferred to Iraq in August. He reenlisted in May 2005.
"He felt the work he was doing in Iraq was very important," Richard Hoskins said. "He was proud to be there."
He was so proud that he felt guilty coming home on leave, concerned that his absence was making things harder for those he served with.
Christopher Hoskins's younger brother has a form of mental retardation, and family members say his unique view of world is helping them cope with the loss.
"He keeps us in the moment," Richard Hoskins
said. "He was appropriately saddened by the loss of his brother, but he's
taught us that you have to greet today with what today has to offer. You
have to keep going."
By BILL THEOBALD
With sunlight breaking through gray clouds, U.S. Army Specialist Christopher Hoskins ended his short life's journey Thursday at Arlington National Cemetery.
Hoskins was laid to rest in Grave 8116, Section 60, 23 days after he was killed in Ramadi, Iraq, while guarding a convoy.
The 21-year-old Killingly native, who spent his life quietly helping others, was again a soldier on Thursday as the small vault containing his cremated remains was interred in a brief military ceremony in a field bordered by Bradley, Eisenhower and York drives.
Hoskins' sense of patriotism may become a lasting legacy. His family hopes to honor him by raising money to pay for lights around every public school flagpole in Connecticut so the Stars and Stripes never have to be taken down at night.
Hoskins' father, Richard, said he realized his son's death had impact far beyond the immediate family when he and Christopher's mother, Claudia, began getting condolence calls from state legislators, the governor, congressmen and others.
"He went from being our son to belonging to the state and the nation," Richard Hoskins said in an interview the day before his son's burial. "All of a sudden, you realize this little boy you raised has become the son of a nation."
An honor guard from the 3rd U.S. Infantry regiment, known as the Old Guard, marched the vault containing Hoskins' remains slowly to a pedestal set up under a green portable shelter. Hoskins' siblings -- Kristin, 23, Erin, 18, and Sean, 15 -- joined their parents in the front row of chairs covered in green velvet.
Seven soldiers with rifles took up positions on one side of the pedestal. On the other side, alone under one of the giant pin oaks that line the roads at Arlington, stood a bugler.
The honor guard slowly unfolded an American flag and held it taut over the small container, while a chaplain made brief remarks. The rifles fired three quick bursts. The sound echoed across the low hills of the cemetery as the bugler played taps.
The flag was carefully folded, handed to Maj. Gen. Craig Hackett, who in turn presented it to Claudia Hoskins. Sean leaned over into his mother, his head touching the flag.
A second flag was touched to the vault and presented to Richard Hoskins.
Finally, Hackett presented the family with Christopher's medals -- a Purple Heart, Bronze Star and Good Conduct Medal -- and the ceremony ended.
Later in the day, Reprsentative Rob Simmons, R-Stonington, entered a statement honoring Hoskins in the Congressional Record.
"This was a young man who wanted to serve a cause larger than himself," Simmons said.
Hoskins, a soldier with the 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, was killed along with another soldier on a road nicknamed Michigan Avenue.
Richard Hoskins said a lieutenant in his son's unit sent an e-mail describing what happened in Iraq on June 21, 2005.
Hoskins was a gunner in a Bradley Fighting Vehicle escorting engineers from one side of the Euphrates River to their home base. A roadside bomb detonated, setting the vehicle on fire. Hoskins scrambled out of the Bradley and was hit with machine gun fire, his father said. He was knocked unconscious and died within 30 minutes.
Hoskins enlisted in 2003 and recently had signed up for four more years.
Relatives and friends described the 6-foot 3-inch Hoskins as a quiet, hard-working young man who was always trying to help others.
"If there was a child who was going to rescue a wounded animal, it was Christopher," Richard Hoskins said. "He had a collection of friends. Almost every one of them had a hurt or need."
Richard Hoskins, an English teacher at Killingly High School, said he believes his son saw his military service as an "extension of his work helping people."
He said he came up with the idea of providing lights for public school flagpoles when he drove by a dark, empty pole one day after Christopher's death.
"I thought -- the imagery is wrong," Richard Hoskins said. "This flag represents what's good and true and right and it has to be taken down?"
He calls the effort the "Lights of Freedom Project" and is dedicating it to his son and others serving in the military.
"He just felt the work he was doing was right and noble -- but without any fanfare," Hoskins said of his son.
An Army honor guard carries the cremated remains of Army Specialist Christopher
Hoskins of Danielson, Connecticut. during funeral services at Arlington National
Cemetery, Thursday, July 14, 2005.