John Byron Trotter
Sergeant, United States Army
Nov 11, 2004
Media Contact: Army Public Affairs - (703) 692-2000 Public/Industry Contact: (703)428-0711
DoD Identifies Army Casualty
The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Sergeant John B. Trotter, 25, of Marble Falls,
Texas, died November 9, 2004, in Ar Ramadi, Iraq, when he was on patrol
and his unit came under attack by enemy forces
For further information related to this release, contact Army Public Affairs at (703) 692-2000.
12 November 2004
By Sheila Hotchkin and Jeorge Zarazua
Courtesy of the San Antonio Express-News
A soldier from the Texas Hill Country who helped in rescue and recovery efforts after a hijacked plane smashed into the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, died himself this week after coming under enemy fire in Iraq.
Army Sergeant John B. Trotter, 25, of Blanco, died in Ar Ramadi, Iraq, on Tuesday. The U.S. Department of Defense released his name late Thursday.
Before he went into combat, Trotter was a member of "The Old Guard," the Army's oldest active-duty infantry unit.
The Old Guard, an elite unit formally called the 3rd U.S. Infantry, mostly performs ceremonial duties, including a round-the-clock vigil at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery outside Washington and escorting the President of the United States.
But in the days following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, The Old Guard helped put bodies into bags, loaded the bags onto refrigerator trucks and shored up the collapsed section of the Pentagon.
"It makes you realize your own mortality," Trotter, then 21, told an Associated Press reporter.
Enemy forces fired on Trotter's unit as it patrolled Ar Ramadi. At the time of his death, Trotter was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, based at Camp Howze in Korea.
Trotter grew up in San Antonio and graduated from Blanco High School.
He is survived by his son, Austin John; his father, Clayton; his siblings Fred, Rick, Frances, Susan, Alma, and Jasmine; his grandmother, Frances Barrington Trotter; and his uncles George, John and Marvin Trotter.
Memorial services will be held 4 p.m. Sunday
at Cornerstone Church in San Antonio. He will be interred at Arlington
December 10, 2004
Old Guard Soldiers bury one of their own
by Dennis Ryan
Pentagram staff writer
The day the war on terror began, Sergeant John Trotter, then an Old Guard Soldier, was scheduled for a meeting in the section of the Pentagon in which American Airlines flight 77 struck. But the meeting was moved to another corridor about a mile away. With that move Trotter dodged fate, for a time.
Trotter and other Old Guard Soldiers soon found themselves with the unenviable job of removing bodies from the still smoldering rubble of the Pentagon after September 11, 2001.
Sergeant John Trotter returned to the scene of many of his missions Friday, Arlington National Cemetery, for a final time. A Defense release cryptically states, "Sergeant John B. Trotter, 25, of Marble Falls, Texas, died November 9, 2004, in Ar Ramadi, Iraq, when he was on patrol and his unit came under attack by enemy forces using small arms."
The 25-year old Texan was laid to rest in Section 60, almost in the shadow of the peculiar five-sided building he had entered as a rescuer three years previously. It was a crisp, cool day vaulted by a cerulean sky.
Deputy Secretary of Defense, Paul Wolfowitz, former Old Guard comrades, family and friends gathered in an almost palpable grief. The firing squad delivered three crisp volleys and the bugler played the plaintive, melancholy 21-notes of "Taps," but the normally abrupt shots sounded muted in the wind and the trumpet more pleading than normal.
Trotter, ironically, was quoted by the Associated Press on September 14, 2001, on his experiences putting bodies into bags at the Pentagon and then onto refrigerator trucks.
"It makes you realize your own mortality," Trotter said.
His brother Fred at Trotter's funeral in San Antonio told how his brother's experiences as a rescuer eventually led him to Iraq after being out of the Army for a year before re-enlisting.
"He pulled horribly burned bodies out of the rubble, and that scarred him," Fred Trotter said. "He went in knowing where he was going. He had a motivation for justice. He wanted to honor the friends he lost on Sept. 11 by going to Iraq."
Sergeant First Class Marshall Harris, who was Trotter's squad leader and later platoon leader for almost three years, remembers him as a likeable jokester but a proud Old Guard Soldier.
Harris and the men of Echo Company entered the Pentagon two to three days after the attack wearing respirators and protective gear to remove bodies.
"We could only stay in for an hour because of the heat," Harris said. "I had been in combat before, but knowing these were comrades and some were friends made it difficult. He [Trotter] was taking it well. It was a strain on all of us."
The Old Guard Soldiers worked retrieving remains then cleaning up rubble. Harris said the men found mostly pieces of bodies close to ground zero.
"I heard from my office [memorial affairs]
one of the former Old Guard Soldiers had been killed," he said. "I asked
who, I figured I knew him. Then, I was stunned. It was a shock, we never
really thought of losing one of our own."
Posted: 12 November 2004 Updated: 10 December 2004 Updated: 8 January 2005 Updated: 21 August 2005 Updated: 13 May 2008
Photo By Michael Robert Patterson, May 2008
Photo By M. R. Patterson, 3 December 2004