David Joseph Babineau
Specialist, United States Army
RELEASES from the United States Department of Defense
No. 569-06 IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 18, 2006
Media Contact: (703)697-5131 Public/Industry (703)428-0711
DoD Identifies Army Casualty and Soldiers as Whereabouts Unknown
The Department of Defense announced today the death of one soldier and the identity of two soldiers listed as Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown (DUSTWUN) who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. On June 16, 2006, in Baghdad, Iraq, the soldiers were manning a checkpoint when they came under enemy small arms fire. All three soldiers were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
Specialist David J. Babineau, 25, of Springfield, Massachusetts
Reported as DUSTWUN are:
Private First Class Kristian Menchaca, 23,
of Houston, Texas
For further information related to this release, contact Army Public Affairs at (703) 692-2000.
EDITORIAL NOTE: It was subsequently indicated
that each of the missing soldiers had been captured by insurgents and then
Family has stepped in to care for the children of a soldier killed in Iraq in an attack that ended with two of his comrades presumed kidnapped.
Specialist David J. Babineau, 25, of Springfield, Massachusetts, was killed Friday during an attack Friday at their checkpoint south of Baghdad.
U.S. and Iraqi forces have launched a massive search for two other members of the 101st Airborne Division. U.S. Major General William Caldwell confirmed that the remains, found late Monday by American troops, were believed to be those of Private First Classs Kristian Menchaca, 23, of Houston, and PrivateFirst Class Thomas L. Tucker, 25, of Madras, Oregon.
Babineau, 25, had reenlisted twice for tours of duty in Iraq, said his sister-in-law, Kerri Francis, 27.
"Duty was important to him," she said. "He re-enlisted. That was something he didn't have to do. He didn't have to be there."
After learning of Babineau's death, Francis and her mother, Della Shepard, 51, drove that night to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, to bring the dead soldier's children back to North Carolina.
Donovan "Bubba" Babineau, 4, and his sister, Samantha, 9, are staying with their mother's family in Mills River while Rondi Babineau makes arrangements to receive her husband's remains at Fort Campbell. The Babineaus' youngest child, Dominic, 2, stayed with his mother in Oak Grove, Kentucky.
"Bubba will tell that God is going to fix his daddy and take him away from that job," Francis said Monday as the two children played with the camouflage-clad teddy bears their father gave them during a visit home from Iraq.
Babineau last saw his children when he came home for about 10 days in February.
"He believed in what he was doing," Francis said.
Francis and Rondi Babineau, 29, attended Erwin High School. Francis joined the military and was stationed at Fort Campbell. When Rondi went to visit in 1999, she met Babineau and the two were married later that year.
"His wife and kids were everything to him," Francis said. "He was a real hands-on dad. He just loved to get down on the floor and roll around with them."
Francis said Babineau will be buried at Arlington
National Cemetery in Virginia.
20 June 2006:
Springfield mourns specialist
As a senior at Springfield High School of Science and Technology in 1998, David J. Babineau wrote to his classmates he wanted to be a five-star general. Before the summer was out, he had joined the Army. And by December, he was assigned to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, home of the famed 101st Airborne Division.
On Friday, Specialist Babineau was killed in an ambush at a traffic checkpoint south of Baghdad . The 25-year-old Springfield native was with the two US soldiers who were apparently kidnapped by insurgents.
The soldiers remained missing yesterday.
"He always talked about being in the service," said Hunter Short, a vice principal at the school.
"He was excellent in the classroom, always focused, on time, always got his assignments in. Just a pleasure," he said.
Babineau leaves a wife, Rondi; two sons, ages 2 and 4; and a daughter, 8. He had been scheduled to leave Iraq in May, but had his tour of duty extended, according to his mother, Dawn of Springfield.
"He wanted to make a career out of the Army," she said.
At least 38 servicemen from Massachusetts have been killed in the Iraq war.
A farmer who said he witnessed the attack reported that Babineau died when seven masked assailants, including one with a heavy machine gun, ambushed the soldiers' Humvee in Yusufiyah, a heavily Sunni area about 12 miles southwest of Baghdad. The two missing servicemen are Private First Class Kristian Menchaca, 23, of Houston, and Private First Class Thomas L. Tucker, 25, of Madras, Oregon. All three soldiers were assigned to Company B, First Battalion, 502d Infantry Regiment of the division's Second Brigade Combat Team.
An umbrella group that includes Al Qaeda in Iraq said in a statement yesterday that it kidnapped the two soldiers, who, with Babineau, were guarding a Euphrates River canal when they were attacked from several directions. The group's assertion could not be verified.
U.S. military teams have swept the area near the ambush site by ground and by air in an effort to find the missing soldiers, according to Major General William Caldwell, an Army spokesman in Baghdad. A dive team also has been used in the search.
"Coalition and Iraqi forces will continue to search everywhere possible, uncovering every stone, until our soldiers are found, and we will continue to use every resource available in our search," according to a statement from the US military.
According to Ahmed Khalaf Falah, the farmer who said he saw the ambush, US soldiers raided houses and made arrests following the attack. Falah also said US troops were setting up checkpoints on all roads leading to the area of the attack and that helicopters were hovering at low altitudes.
Short, the Springfield vice principal, said Babineau's decision to enter the military is a popular one at the high school, where 15 percent to 20 percent of students choose the armed forces after graduation.
But Babineau had set an unusually high goal for himself, Short recalled. Before leaving the school, Babineau said he would return in 20 years as a five-star general.
``He was just a good guy in the halls, always laughing; always had a good sense of humor," Short said.
Babineau was part of the first graduating class at Springfield High School of Science and Technology, where he enrolled as a junior in its first year of operation.
That first graduating class of 157 students, Short said, was a motivated group that had made the difficult choice to transfer from another high school after sophomore year.
"He was just a good person to have as a student,"
Short said. ``He was the worker type."
When members of his 1998 high school class wrote their so-called "last will and testament," David Babineau predicted he'd be at their 20-year reunion as a five-star general.
Babineau always wanted to serve his country and enlisted in the Army after graduating from Springfield High School of Science and Technology, his mother said.
But his dream of five stars ended Friday when the specialist was killed at a checkpoint in Yusufiyah, outside Baghdad, Iraq. Two of his comrades from the 101st Airborne Division out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky, were abducted in the attack.
"He was supposed to be home in May," his mother, Dawn Babineau, said outside her home Monday. Instead, he was extended for a second tour of duty, she said.
News of Babineau's death shocked those who knew him as a friendly student at the Springfield High School of Science and Technology.
"He died doing what he loved, what he wanted to be in life" Gladys Franco, one of Babineau's classmates who now teaches history at their alma mater, told WGGB-TV.
"It's sad that he had to go so young," she said.
As much as he wanted to be a soldier, Babineau had more than the military in his life. Before going to Iraq, he lived with his wife, his 8-year-old stepdaughter, and two sons, ages 4 and 2 in Oak Grove, Kentucky.
Babineau and his unit were guarding the checkpoint Friday when they came under fire from many directions, said Ahmed Khalaf Falah, a farmer who said he witnessed the incident.
Seven masked gunmen, including one carrying what appeared to be a heavy machine gun, killed the driver of the third vehicle, then took the other two soldiers captive, Falah said.
The missing soldiers from Babineau's unit are Private First Class Kristian Menchaca, 23, of Houston, and Private First Class Thomas L. Tucker, 25, of Madras, Oregon.
In Oregon, Tucker's family expressed their sympathy to Babineau's family, and said they were, "praying for the safe return of our son, Tom, and Private First Class Kristian Menchaca."
Menchaca's 18-year-old wife in Texas said through a chaplain that his family appreciated the concern and prayers for him.
U.S. troops have spent days looking for the missing soldiers, backed by helicopters and warplanes. They fanned out across the "Triangle of Death" south of Baghdad. The predominantly Sunni region is the scene of frequent ambushes of U.S. soldiers and Iraqi troops.
An umbrella group that includes al-Qaida in
Iraq claimed in a statement Monday that it had kidnapped the two U.S. soldiers,
but it did not name them. There was no immediate confirmation that the
statement was credible, although it appeared on a Web site often used by
“He was a good father and a good husband — just a good person,” Francis said Monday. “I just want to be sure his kids know that.”
Francis said her sister, Rondi Babineau, is still in Oak Grove, Kentucky, waiting for her husband’s body to arrive in the United States.
The sisters attended Erwin High School, then Francis joined the military and was stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
When Rondi went to visit in 1999, she met Babineau and the two were married later that year.
Babineau was on his second tour in Iraq, one that had been extended indefinitely, when he and two other soldiers were attacked Friday.
The other two, Private First Class Kristian Menchaca, 23, and Private First Class Thomas L. Tucker, 25, are listed as missing. All three were assigned to B Company, 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, based in Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
“He believed in what he was doing,” Francis said.
After the family heard of his death, Francis and her mother and stepfather, Mark and Della Shepard, traveled to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, where he was stationed with the 101st Airborne and Rondi Babineau lives. They brought back his stepdaughter, Samantha Hensley, 9, and his older son, Donovan, 4.
“He knows his Daddy went to heaven,” Francis said. “I don’t think he really understands, and I don’t think he’ll remember much about his dad.”
Babineau was born and raised in Springfield, Massachusetts.
“His wife and kids were everything to him,” Francis said. “He was a real hands-on dad. He just loved to get down on the floor and roll around with them.”
Francis said a memorial service was held in Iraq and Babineau will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. The family plans to travel to Arlington for a service when his body arrives there.
“Duty was important to him,” Francis said.
“He re-enlisted. That was something he didn’t have to do. He didn’t have
to be there.”
A soldier from Springfield will be laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
The body of 25-year-old David Babineau arrived at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware yesterday. Babineau was killed Friday by Iraqi insurgents.
Babineau's parents -- Paul and Dawn Babineau -- live in Springfield, Massachusetts. Their son is the third soldier from Springfield to die in Iraq since the fighting began three years ago.
Meanwhile, the 101st Airborne Division held
a memorial service yesterday in Baghdad for Babineau, who was a specialist
with the division.
Springfield, nation salute fallen soldier
Friday, June 23, 2006
David Babineau will not be able to keep the promise he made to classmates when he graduated from the High School of Science and Technology in Springfield in 1998.
Babineau told his classmates he'd return for their 20-year reunion as a five-star general.
Instead, Babineau will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery among generals, presidents, chief justices and war heroes.
Babineau, a 25-year-old Army infantryman, was on his second tour of duty in Iraq when he was killed in an ambush last Friday at a traffic checkpoint in a town regarded as one of the most hostile in all of Iraq.
Our hearts go out to the family of Babineau, his wife Rondi; step-daughter, 8-year-old Samantha, and two sons, 4-year-old Donovan and 2-year-old Dominic in Oak Grove, Kentucky, near Fort Campbell, the base where he was stationed. And also to his parents, Paul and Dawn Babineau of Springfield. We thank them for their sacrifice.
No date has been set for his funeral in Arlington National Cemetery, but on that day, the city of Springfield will wipe a tear from its cheek. Although he did not make five-star general, David Babineau is out-ranked by no one.
He is the third native of Springfield and the 12th person from Western Massachusetts or northern Connecticut killed in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The remains of the two soldiers who were with Babineau were recovered on the day Babineau's body arrived at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. It took the search team 12 hours to reach Pfc. Kristian Menchaca of Houston and Pfc. Thomas L. Tucker of Madras, Ore., because soldiers had to make their way through numerous explosive devices set along the road and around the bodies themselves.
Both had been brutally tortured and mutilated, and at least one was beheaded, according to a U.S. military official.
Much of the world opposes the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and the extraordinary liberties it has taken to combat terrorism, and some claim it is evidence that America has lost its moral compass.
For the insurgents responsible for the brutal
torture and deaths of the two Americans, there is no such thing as a compass.
July 1, 2006:
David Babineau was supposed to be discharged from the Army in late May, come home and give his 2-year-old son his first haircut.
On Saturday morning, the boy, Dominic Babineau, ran around at his father's memorial service in Springfield, his fine blond hair down to his shoulders.
Specialist David Babineau, 25, was one of three soldiers killed in Iraq on June 15,2006, as they guarded a checkpoint in Yusufiyah, outside Baghdad. Babineau was shot in his Humvee while the other two soldiers -- Private First Class Kristian Menchaca of Houston and Privat First Class Thomas Tucker of Madras, Ore. -- were kidnapped and later found beheaded.
Babineau was buried in Arlington National Cemetery on Wednesday and was honored at a memorial service in Springfield on Saturday morning. About 200 people attended the short service at American Legion Post 277.
Joshua Calkins, Babineau's cousin and close friend, said Babineau joined the military to get out of Springfield and see the world.
"I don't think it was his big dream but he saw it was a way to an adventure," Calkins, 25, said.
Calkins' mother, Linda Calkins, recalled Babineau's deadpan humor. "He would kid with you and you wouldn't know if he was serious. You would have to look in his eyes." When they sparkled back, you knew he was joking, she said.
Babineau's father, Paul Babineau, said that his son joined the military in 1998 as a way to see the world and then reenlisted after September 11, 2001.
"David wasn't looking to be a general or anything else," Paul Babineau said in reference to a prediction his son made that he would be a five-star general someday.
What David wanted, Paul Babineau said, was to get out of the Army, go to college and take care of his family.
As Paul Babineau spoke he held Dominic, who was sucking on a teal pacifier that had a drawing of a yellow star with a smiley face in it. His father's Bronze Start was pinned on his small black vest.
David Babineau also left another son, Donovan, 4, a stepdaughter, Samantha, 8, and his wife, Rondi, 29.
After the service, Babineau's 16-year-old cousin, Jeremy LaCourse, sat with his head in his hands. He remembered playing baseball, basketball and freeze tag with his older cousin, and said he wants to follow Babineau's footsteps and join the Army.
"I want to be a hero just like he is," he said.
"I want people to look up to me like they look up to him."
17 May 2007:
Three U.S. soldiers slaughtered in a grisly kidnapping-murder plot south of Baghdad last June had been left alone for up to 36 hours in a poorly planned mission, a military investigation concluded. Two officers have been relieved of their commands.
Neither of the officers faced criminal charges as a result of the litany of mistakes that left the soldiers exposed, a military official familiar with the investigation told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
A report on the investigation said the platoon leader and company commander — whose names were not released — failed to provide proper supervision to the unit or enforce military standards.
A seven-page summary of the investigation provided to the AP also said it appears insurgents may have rehearsed the attack two days earlier, and that Iraqi security forces near the soldiers' outpost probably saw and heard the attack and "chose to not become an active participant in the attack on either side."
"This was an event caused by numerous acts of complacency, and a lack of standards at the platoon level," said the investigating officer, Lieutenant Colonel Timothy Daugherty, in the summary.
Three 101st Airborne Division soldiers were killed in the June 16, 2006, attack. Specialist David J. Babineau, of Springfield, Massachusetts, was found dead at the scene, and two others — Private First Class Kristian Menchaca of Houston and Private First Class Thomas Tucker of Madras, Oregon — were abducted. Their mutilated bodies were found three days later, tied together and booby-trapped with bombs.
Details of the attack and what led up to it came as thousands of U.S. and Iraqi forces were scouring the same area near Youssifiyah, in what's called the Triangle of Death, for three soldiers believed to have been abducted last Saturday by an al-Qaida-related group.
According to the investigation of last June's attack, Tucker, Menchaca and Babineau were ordered to guard a mobile bridge over a canal in order to prevent insurgents from planting mines. Other members of their platoon, who were at two locations up to three-quarters of a mile away, heard small arms fire at 7:49 p.m. When they arrived at the checkpoint about 25 minutes later, Babineau was dead and the others were gone.
Daugherty said the soldiers were told to stand guard for up to 36 hours with just one Humvee, and there were no barriers on the road to slow access to them or provide early warning.
To expect them to operate an observation post for 24 to 36 hours was unrealistic, he said. "From the time a vehicle was seen, it would have been in front or beside the (Humvee) in a matter of seconds," he wrote.
Daugherty concluded that the platoon did not get the supervision or direction it needed. And he said the unit was hurt by the loss of 10 troops, including several leaders, who were killed in action as well as by the need to shuffle the platoon's leadership three times.
The platoon also had been dogged by an ongoing investigation into the rape and killing of an Iraqi girl and the killing of her family by several other members of the unit.
Daugherty said there was no malicious intent by the officers who were leading the unit.
"Although the leaders in this platoon care and are staying in the fight, the platoon is frayed," he said in his report.
Daugherty's investigation found no evidence linking the three soldiers' deaths to the rape-murder, which occurred three months earlier. An al-Qaida-linked group, the Mujahedeen Shura Council, claimed last July that the attack on Babineau, Menchaca and Tucker was revenge for the rape-killing.
Lt. Gen. James D. Thurman, who was serving as the commander of U.S. forces in Baghdad last year, ordered the investigation, and later handed out the punishments. His decision to remove the two officers — a lieutenant and a captain — from their commands was a harsher penalty than the one recommended by Daugherty, who suggested they get letters of reprimand.
Thurman, who is now commander of Fifth Corps in Heidelberg, Germany, also accepted Daugherty's recommendations that the platoon be ordered to stand down for 10 days to address combat stress and get refresher training. In addition, administrative actions were taken against an unknown number of other officers, but those have not been disclosed because they are protected by the privacy act.
Release of the investigation's results has been delayed for months. The probe was completed and the punishments delivered by last August. Families of the three soldiers were given unclassified briefings on the results of the investigation later in the fall. According to a military official, part of the delay was due to legal reviews and the movement of the units involved out of Iraq.
In the rape-killing case, five soldiers were
charged in the March 12, 2006 incident. Three have entered guilty pleas,
one soldier's trial has been delayed and the fifth is being prosecuted
in federal court because he had already left the military when he was charged.
Photo Courtesy of Holly, August 2006
Photo Courtesy of Holly, July 2006