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Doyle M. Hufstedler
First Lieutenant, United States Army
Texas State Flag
NEWS RELEASE from the United States Department of Defense
No. 248-04
IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 2, 2004
(703)697-5131(media)
(703) 428-0711(public/industry)

DoD Identifies Army Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of five Soldiers supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died on March 31, 2004,in Habbaniyah, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device hit their armored personnel carrier.   All of the soldiers were assigned to the Army’s 1st Engineer Battalion, 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kansas.  Killed were:

First Lieutenant Doyle M. Hufstedler, 25, of Abilene, Texas.
Specialist Sean R. Mitchell, 24, of Youngsville, Pennsylvania
Specialist Michael G. Karr Jr., 23, of San Antonio, Texas.
Private First Class Cleston C. Raney, 20, of Rupert, Idaho.
Private Brandon L. Davis, 20, of Cumberland, Maryland.

            The incident is under investigation.

            For further information related to this release, contact Army Public Affairs at (703) 692-2000.


June 19, 2004, 12:48AM

5 U.S. soldiers, 2 from Texas, buried as group in Arlington
By ERIC M. WEISS
Courtesy of the Washington Post
They fought together, they died together, and Friday morning all five were buried together at Arlington National Cemetery. 

The five soldiers from the 1st Engineer Battalion -- Lieutenant Doyle Hufstedler, Specialist Sean Mitchell, Specialist Michael Karr Jr., Private First Class Cleston Raney and Private Brandon Davis -- were killed March 31, 2004, when their armored personnel carrier ran over a bomb in Iraq's Sunni Triangle. They were the 69th, 70th, 71st, 72nd and 73rd casualties of Operation Iraqi Freedom to be buried at Arlington.

Hufstedler was from Abilene and Karr was from San Antonio.

In the 11 weeks since their deaths, the remains that could be positively identified were given to their families, who held individual funerals in their home towns. What could not be identified from the wreckage was commingled, placed in a single 18-gauge steel casket and buried Friday. They will receive a single gravestone that will include all five names.

Four of the five families attended Friday's ceremony, which included a horse-drawn caisson, U.S. Army band and a volley of three shots fired by seven soldiers followed by Taps played in front of a backdrop of granite and grass. The caisson was the same used for the funeral of President Ronald Reagan last week.

Wearing a pink-and-white dress and cradled in her mother's arms was Grace Ashley Hufstedler, born five weeks after her father's death.

The family of Sergeant Mitchell declined the Army's invitation to attend Friday's ceremony.

Hufstedler, 25, knew he wanted to be a soldier early on. He was an Eagle Scout, cadet commander of his high school ROTC program who called elders "sir" and "ma'am." At Texas A&M, he enrolled in the school's Corps of Cadets, a military program that required daily drills and wearing a uniform to classes. He proposed to his college sweetheart, Leslie, in the end zone during a football game, a tradition at Texas A&M.

Karr, 23, was a star student at South Garland High School near Dallas, but he was also a free spirit. The redhead with a great sense of humor left the University of Texas to join the Army, where he was a medic assigned to the 1st Engineer Battalion.

Karr's mother, Kim Sine, is a high school teacher, and her son was an enthusiastic pen pal to her students.


Five Who Died Together Are Buried at Arlington
Soldiers Praised for Their Commitment to Duty
By Eric M. Weiss
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, June 19, 2004

They fought together, they died together, and yesterday morning all five were buried together with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.

The five soldiers from the 1st Engineer Battalion -- Lieutenant Doyle M. Hufstedler, Specialist Sean R. Mitchell, Specialist Michael G. Karr Jr., Private First Class Cleston C. Raney and Private. Brandon L. Davis of Cumberland, Mdaryland -- were killed March 31, 2004, when their armored personnel carrier ran over a bomb in Iraq's Sunni Triangle. They were the 69th, 70th, 71st, 72nd and 73rd casualties of Operation Iraqi Freedom to be buried at Arlington.

Yesterday's ceremony was the first group burial of the Iraq war. In the 11 weeks since their deaths, the remains that could be positively identified were given to their families, who held individual funerals in their home towns. What could not be identified from the wreckage was commingled, placed in a single 18-guage steel casket and buried yesterday. They will receive a single gravestone that will include all five names.

Four of the five families attended yesterday's ceremony, which included a horse-drawn caisson, U.S. Army band and a volley of three shots fired by seven soldiers followed by taps played in front of a backdrop of granite and grass. The caisson was the same used for the funeral of President Ronald Reagan last week.

"Whether it be for presidents or privates, honors are rendered to those who served and sacrificed for our nation," Army Chaplain Kenneth Kerr told family members at the graveside. Later, Kerr knelt before mothers and widows, whispered the gratitude of the nation and -- four times -- handed over a crisply folded American flag.

Wearing a pink-and-white dress and cradled in her mother's arms was Grace Ashley Hufstedler, born five weeks after her father's death.

The family of Sgt. Mitchell declined the Army's invitation to attend yesterday's ceremony. After attending his funeral, a memorial service at Fort Riley, Kan., and other salutes, the Mitchell family felt that attending another emotional ceremony was too much to bear, according to an Army spokeswoman.

"The Mitchell family just decided they just couldn't do this one," said Shari Lawrence, an Army public affairs officer who served as liaison to the five families.

Group burials are relatively rare at Arlington. The last group funeral there was for four airmen and a soldier who died when their helicopter crashed in Afghanistan in November.

Family members were not available for interviews yesterday, but friends and family members had earlier told The Washington Post that each of the men was committed to duty.

Hufstedler, 25, of Abilene, Tex., knew he wanted to be a soldier early on. He was an Eagle Scout, cadet commander of his high school ROTC program who called elders "sir" and "ma'am." At Texas A&M, he enrolled in the school's Corps of Cadets, a military program that required daily drills and wearing a uniform to classes. He proposed to his college sweetheart, Leslie, in the end zone during a football game, a tradition at Texas A&M.

Mitchell, 24, of Youngsville, Pa., was serving his second tour of duty in Iraq. After returning home from Iraq last year, he was scheduled to leave the Army. But like thousands of others, he was prevented from doing so by orders designed to maintain troop levels. After less than two months at home, he was sent back to Iraq last fall.

Mitchell was a big, broad-shouldered man and avid fisherman who loved football and wrestling. After receiving an associate's degree in business administration, he signed up in the Army as a combat engineer. His wife, Denise, was a leader of an Army Family Readiness Group, which helps support other military families.

Karr, 23, of San Antonio, was a star student at South Garland High School near Dallas, and a free spirit. The redhead with a great sense of humor left the University of Texas to join the Army, where he was a medic assigned to the 1st Engineer Battalion.

Karr's mother, Kim Sine, is a high school teacher, and her son was an enthusiastic pen pal to her students. When Karr died, one of them wrote a poem in his honor.

"War takes always what we love the most. We're just the guests, but God is the host. Who's to say what he could have been -- doctor, lawyer or congressman," wrote Michael Shrum, a seventh-grader. "And as we grow older and older, keep in your mind our personal soldier." Michael attended the funeral.

Raney, 20, of Rupert, Idaho, was a quiet, shy, only child who was raised by an aunt. He surprised his family when he told them he was enlisting in 2002. They tried to talk him out of it, a cousin, Gina Trivitt, told The Post earlier this year.

"One of the things he said was he didn't want someone to say down the road, 'Whatever happened to the Raney kid?' and for somebody to say, 'I don't know,' " Trivitt said. "He had a sense of purpose."

Davis, 20, was the class cutup who was suspended from school after attending his eighth-grade dance in drag. He had joined the military to learn a trade, start a career. In February, he had a chance to return home, but gave up his leave to a friend who was about to get married, relatives said.

The five met their end on a road in Habbaniyah, a town west of Baghdad in an area known for insurgent activity.

Their M-113 armored personnel carrier ran over a bomb, possibly detonated by remote control. The military said the incident is under investigation.


Abilene soldier receives military burial
By Loretta Fulton / Reporter-News Staff Writer
June 22, 2004

Remains of a young Abilene soldier, and four buddies who died alongside him in Iraq, were buried in a single casket Friday in Arlington National Cemetery.

First Lieutenant Doyle Hufstedler III, 25, a 1997 Abilene High School graduate, and the four other soldiers were killed in action March 31 in a roadside bombing in Iraq. Funeral and burial for Hufstedler were held April 9 in Abilene. Private services also had been held for the other soldiers.

On Friday, miniscule pieces of remains of all five soldiers were buried in one casket at the national cemetery, said Hufstedler's father, Doyle Hufstedler Jr. of Abilene.

Hufstedler said he, his wife, Kathleen, and his son's widow, Leslie, knew from the beginning that some type of ceremony would be held at the national cemetery. But no one knew the nature of it until last week, Hufstedler said.

When the Hufstedlers were contacted, they immediately accepted the government's offer to pay for travel expenses to the ceremony.

''I saw it as a great honor for the men,'' said Hufstedler, operations manager in the maintenance department of the Abilene Independent School District.

Families of four of the fallen soldiers attended the service, with one declining due to emotional stress, Hufstedler said. The service, although a painful reminder, was a magnificent tribute to the men, Hufstedler said.

It included a one-mile procession behind a caisson from a chapel on the cemetery grounds to the gravesite, military band, and volley of three shots fired by seven members of a rifle company.

The caisson was the same one that on June 9 carried the body of former President Ronald Reagan in a funeral procession through Washington, D.C.

Use of the caisson was significant. It emphasized the place of honor the military gives those who died in service, Hufstedler said.

The words of presiding Air Force chaplain Kenneth Kerr underscored that message: ''Whether it be for presidents or privates, honors are rendered to those who served and sacrificed for our nation,'' Kerr said in his address to the families.

According to an article in the Washington Post, group burials are relatively rare at Arlington National Cemetery. The last group funeral there was for four airmen and a solider who died when their helicopter crashed in Afghanistan in November, according to the Post article.

Private and public ceremonies honoring the five men killed in Iraq are over now. But their memory will be preserved in a biographical booklet that Hufstedler is preparing.

Titled ''The Five,'' the booklet will be for family members, Hufstedler said. Besides preserving memories, Hufstedler said the biographical sketch is his way of paying tribute to five men who died at such an early age.

''I'm insistent that good come from this,'' Hufstedler said.



November 05, 2004

Letters that live forever
Last writings from serviceman in Iraq
PETER SMOLOWITZ
Courtesy of the Charlotte Observer

The last letters from a war zone rekindle memories.

Reminders of how some troops weren't always as safe as they assured their mothers.

Reminders of how excited a father was to see the baby he'll never hold.

Reminders of homecoming plans that gave way to heartbreak.

Along with the pain, though, the letters from those who died in Iraq can bring a smile. A soldier refers to his wife with a pet name. A Marine asks about the Cubs. Again and again, troops tell family and friends how much they love them.

In today's edition of Life, the magazine publishes some of those letters. Grown children thanking their parents. A father's message to his family that he wanted opened only if he died.

Here are some stories from local soldiers and Marines.

One is Army First Lieutenant Doyle Hufstedler, who wrote to his wife, Leslie, before he was killed by a roadside bomb. Six weeks later, their daughter, Gracie, was born.

Next week, Gracie will be 6 months old. Leslie already shows her pictures of the baby's father. Someday, when the baby can understand, Leslie will put the letters in a scrapbook.

For now, she keeps them in a shoebox.

And in her heart.

In his letters, Hufstedler called his wife "Love Bug," a silly name he stole from her. Once, after they hadn't talked for a while, one of her letters arrived from south Charlotte. He told her he read it behind a building to hide his tears.

He was excited that she could videotape an ultrasound. He asked when they would learn whether their baby was a boy or a girl. And he suggested names. They would call her Gracie.

On January 25, 2004, he wrote about a car bomb that had killed four members of his company. His unit was the first on the scene.

"Let me tell you, baby, I have some very heroic men and am very proud that their actions saved lives. ... Every day I am here, it becomes more apparent how important our job is ...

"Don't fear, though, I'm definitely ready to come home. I'm just so excited about Grace coming and can't wait to hold her and you in my arms and take walks in the evening, except now with a stroller. I can't wait to take you for ice cream and just go for drives. Just think, I'll be home soon, and we will be doing all of those things. I love you so much, baby."

Doyle Hufstedler, 25, died March 31, 2004

Group Burial Of Operation Iraqi Freedom Casualties PHOTO

DM Hufstedler Gravesite PHOTO
 Photo Courtesy of Holly, August 2005

HUFSTEDLER, DOYLE M
1LT   US ARMY
VETERAN SERVICE DATES: 03/31/2001 - 03/31/2004
DATE OF BIRTH: 04/19/1978
DATE OF DEATH: 03/31/2004
DATE OF INTERMENT: 06/18/2004
BURIED AT: SECTION 60  SITE 7989
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY

Webmaster: Michael Robert Patterson


Posted: 19 June May 2004 Updated: 23 June 2004  Updated: 10 December 2004 Updated: 31 December 2004 Updated: 21 August 2005 Updated: 25 March 2007 Updated: 13 May 2008
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DM Hufstedler Gravesite PHOTO May 2008
Photo By Michael Robert Patterson, May 2008