Zachary Ryan Wobler
Staff Sergeant, United States Army
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
IMMEDIATE RELEASE February 9, 2005
DoD Identifies Army Casualty
The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Staff Sergeant Zachary R. Wobler, 24, of Ottowa, Ohio, died February 6, 2005, in Mosul, Iraq, when his dismounted patrol encountered enemy forces using small arms fire. Wobler was assigned to the Army’s 2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
For further information related to this release,
contact Army Public Affairs at (703) 692-2000.
Twenty-four-year-old Staff Sergeant Zachary Wobler was killed by insurgent fire in Iraq on Sunday morning. He was a member of the Army's 82nd Airborne Division based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
Jeanette Poston said her son still called the southwest Virginia town of Snowflake home, although he had moved with his father to Ottawa, Ohio, before entering high school.
The Army provided no official details on the circumstances surrounding Wobler's death, but soldiers under his command told the family he was shot three times during a firefight with insurgents.
Wobler has been legally separated from his wife, Corissa, for about two years. They have a three-year-old daughter, Trinity.
Family members said Wobler will be buried in
Arlington National Cemetery.
Ohio soldier killed in Iraq
OTTAWA, Ohio — A soldier who grew up in Paulding, Ohio, died Sunday in Iraq after he was wounded by insurgents in Mosul, according to family members.
Staff Sergeant Zachary Ryan Wobler, 24, of the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, was shot several times after emerging from a warehouse in search of support troops, said his father, Anthony Wobler, who lives in Leipsic, Ohio.
From an e-mail from a soldier and two Army officers who visited him, Wobler has pieced together details on the day shortly before his son’s death, he said.
Sgt. Wobler was a lead scout working with a small team of soldiers that had ducked into a warehouse. He ventured outside to try to alert support troops to his location.
“Zach came out of the warehouse, and apparently a car with six people riddled Zach,” the elder Wobler said.
His son was shot in the chest. Sgt. Wobler continued to fight and was able to kill the driver of the vehicle, his father said.
“He was excellent,” his father said. “He was a fantastic guy. I will tell you now, I miss him so bad.”
Sergeant Wobler’s father raised him since his early teens.
The family learned of their son’s death late Sunday, his father said.
Wobler said he was proud of the accomplishments of his son, who was intent on becoming a career soldier after entering the military full time in 1999.
His father said he has misgivings about how leaders in Washington have characterized the security climate in Iraq during the ongoing effort to bring democracy.
“It is sad you hear how they have everything under control,” he said.
“I listen to a guy like (Secretary of Defense Donald) Rumsfeld, and he says we have enough troops to do this and to do that. But I have heard my son say repeatedly that we don’t have enough troops to do this and to do that.
“How can you fight an enemy when they are allowed to keep their guns?”
Sergeant Wobler had close calls during his more than a year in Iraq.
“About three weeks ago, I got an e-mail from him,” his father said. “He said he got a terrible premonition that something bad was going to happen to his men.
“He said, ‘I know you won’t understand, but I would die for any of these men because they have families.’?”
Sergeant Wobler and his wife, Corissa, now living in the Cleveland area, have been separated for two years, his father said. The couple have a 3-year old daughter.
After graduating from Ottawa-Glandorf High School, Wobler joined the Ohio National Guard in Bowling Green, and took courses at Owens Community College to become a peace officer. He completed Army basic training in Missouri and later won numerous honors, including being named Paratrooper of the Year at Fort Bragg in 2002, his father said.
Military officials said Tuesday they didn’t know when Wobler’s remains would be returned home.
Marilyn Pester, Anthony Wobler’s fiancee, said the family plans to have visitation for a day at a funeral home in Paulding and at Love Funeral Home in Ottawa another day. Burial will be at Arlington National Cemetery.
“That’s the tentative plan,” she said, adding that it’s a difficult time: “When you lose your parents or older persons, it’s a natural thing. When you lose younger people, you just can’t understand it.”
February 15, 2005
Final roll call honors soldier's life, death in Iraq Funeral cites dedication, selfless spirit of area man
By JENNIFER FEEHAN
OTTAWA, Ohio - Ss. Peter and Paul Church was eerily quiet yesterday as Staff Sergeant Zachary Wobler's name was shouted out in a final roll call. After three calls were followed by silence, a fellow member of the Army's 82nd Airborne Division replied, "Sergeant Wobler's no longer with us."
A dozen soldiers from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, joined more than 400 relatives, friends, and community members in saying a tearful good-bye to Sergeant Wobler, 24, who was shot to death by insurgents in Mosul, Iraq, on February 6, 2005. He is to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.
A 1998 graduate of Ottawa-Glandorf High School, Sergeant Wobler was remembered by fellow members of his platoon as a dedicated warrior who fought hard and played hard.
"I have witnessed Sergeant Wobler correct men who outranked him," said Sergeant Omar Logue, who served with him in Mosul. "People respected him because they knew he was true to his core values. And it wasn't the U.S. Army that instilled those values in him. It was his family.''
Sergeant Logue said Sergeant Wobler credited his father, Anthony Wobler, for teaching him to strive to be his best and to be a leader.
Sergeant Logue said surely his mother, Jeanette Poston, taught him his social skills. Sergeant Wobler, he said, could talk to anyone, and soldiers in their platoon often went to him to talk about personal problems.
Staff Sergeant Mike Beal recalled a time when he was having trouble in his marriage, and Sergeant Wobler forced him to focus on the dangerous work at hand.
"Zach said, 'Mike, snap out of it. Your men need you. I need you. Worry about your marriage later. Get 'em out alive.'?" Sergeant Beal said, fighting back tears. "He was right."
Sergeant Beal said his friend "set the standard" for a soldier and a human being. He said he did not know how to best pay tribute to his life.
"I couldn't find the words to describe how I never heard Zach complain about anything or about how he was always there for his friends or about how the only thing he loved more than his family and friends was serving his country," Sergeant Beal said.
Sergeant Wobler was shot several times by insurgents in a passing car after he emerged from a warehouse in search of support troops. His father was told that he continued to fight and was able to kill the driver of the vehicle.
During the funeral yesterday, Deacon Jim Rump said Sergeant Wobler's gift of unselfish love and faith were examples for everyone.
"No matter how difficult it is to say good-bye, our faith assures us it is not the final word," Deacon Rump said, adding, "We pray for Zach. We pray for his family. We pray for peace in this troubled world."
Following the funeral, an honor guard from the Putnam County Sheriff's Office carried Sergeant Wobler's casket draped in a U.S. flag out of the church as a light rain fell. Veterans hoisting U.S. and American Legion flags lined their path.
A bagpiper played "Amazing Grace" as family members, including his parents, his wife, Corissa, from whom he was separated, and their 3-year-old daughter, Trinity, filed out of the church.
Jim Murphy, a chaplain for the 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, read "a letter to America" that Sergeant Wobler had penned before his death.
In it, the sergeant said fighting in Iraq was hard, dangerous work that had caused him to look and feel older than he was and caused him to miss two-thirds of his 3-year-old's life.
"I do this for you," Sergeant Wobler wrote. "I ask just one thing of you: Stand behind us."
16 February 2005:
A Leipsic native killed in Iraq was buried Wednesday afternoon in Arlington National Cemetery. 24-year-old Sergeant Zachary Wobler died two weeks ago during a firefight in Mosul. Wobler was a member of the 82nd Airborne Division fighting in Iraq, and his father says he was shot several times after his unit was pinned down in a warehouse during a firefight.
"When I heard my son was killed in action, there's no feeling anybody will ever experience that hurts more than that. It's a dream," said Zachary's father, Anthony Wobler.
Wednesday morning in Washington, DC, Wobler's family members visited the White House and met with President George W. Bush and presidential advisor Karl Rove before the ceremony at Arlington. Bush reportedly thanked the Woblers for Zach's service to our country. He said that the cause of freedom is now stronger, thanks to people like Zach.
The day started sunny and warm in our nation's capitol, but turned rainy just before the burial. Zach was laid to rest on a rolling hill, amongst rows and rows of headstones. The military pallbearers smartly folded the flag that draped his coffin, and presented it to family members. There was a 21-gun salute, and Taps played in a bugle. Wobler was the 118th soldier killed in Iraq to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery, but the first from Ohio to request that honor.
Wobler joined the Ohio National Guard in 1998 after graduating from Ottawa-Glandorf High School. He then joined the Army and was named the 82nd Airborne's paratrooper of the year in 2002. In high school, Wobler played football, ran track and was named the school's senior homecoming attendant.
Wobler's father said he often exchanged e-mails with his son and that his son was worried that not enough troops were in place. He also said that the Iraqi people needed to fight for the freedom as much as the troops were doing. He said his son had the highest respect for the military.
In the cememony Wednesday at Arlington National Cemetery, Sgt. Wobler was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star for his action in Iraq.
The Woblers said they appreciate all the support
they've received, not just from the 50 or so people who stood in the rain
for the burial, but also from all over Ohio, and all over the world.
They said it helps them realize how much Zach meant to everyone.
18 February 2005:
A soldier with ties to Snowflake will be laid to rest this afternoon with the highest honors bestowed on an enlisted man.
Staff Sergeant Zachary Ryan Wobler, whose mother and stepfather reside in Snowflake, was killed when he was shot Sunday, February 6, 2005, at approximately 10:30 a.m. by insurgents in Mosul, Iraq.
He will be buried at 2 p.m. today in Arlington National Cemetery to mark his accomplishments in the 82nd Airborne. Wobler paid the ultimate sacrifice asked of any solider.
The Virginia House of Delegates adjourned Wednesday, February 9, in memory and honor of Zachary Ryan Wobler. The motion was made by Delagate Terry Kilgore.
To his family, Wobler was the perfect soldier, who loved his job and his country. Although a native of Ohio, where he resided much of the time, Wobler called Scott County his home and referred to himself as a Southern boy to his colleagues.
“If Zach did anything, he wanted to do it completely,” recalled his stepfather, Tim Poston. “He didn’t do anything halfway.”
He enlisted in the Ohio National Guard while still attending Ottawa Glandorf High School because of his dream to work in government intelligence. Wobler signed up to attend a local law enforcement academy to continue his career choice and met his future wife, Corissa while enrolled at the academy.
His mother, Jeanette Poston, remembers that he was impatient to join the workforce and decided to go full military after he graduated from the law enforcement academy.
“He was a natural born sergeant,” Jeanette said. “The men in his unit loved him. He stayed with them and they loved hanging out with him.”
Wobler quickly moved through the ranks of the Army and was always involved in trainings opportunities offered by the military. He was such an efficient soldier that in 2002 he was named Trooper of the Year of the 82nd Airborne Division and was honored at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, for his efforts.
His mother said that Wobler took advantage of all the military training possible and accomplished so much during his military career.
Wobler attended basic training with B Company 3-10 at Fort Leonard, Missouri, and advanced individual training with B Company, 1-81st Armor at Fort Knox, Kentucky. He later enlisted for active duty as an infantryman and attended training at Fort Benning, Georgia.
In October 2000, Wobler was assigned to Company A, 2/235th AIR as an automatic rifleman as well as a rifleman. He later was assigned to HHC 2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment before joining the 82nd Airborne 325th Regiment, 2nd Brigade Army Scout Leader. Wobler had also Ranger and Delta Force group training.
Wobler was killed by insurgents while on his tour of duty in Iraq. He originally headed to the Middle East March 12, 2003 and his anxious parents were glued to televised news reports of the war.
As a member of the 82nd Airborne, Jeanette said, Wobler and his men were to be dropped into the country where they would take over or prepare an airfield for additional troops. A freak sandstorm in Baghdad forced the unit to come into Iraq on the heels of the 1st infantry troops.
A move that Wobler’s mother was grateful for because Iraqi were prepared for an air assault. Jeanette said her son told that Iraqis had drove stakes into the ground near the Baghdad airplane where unsuspecting paratroopers would land. They also had anti-aircraft explosives ready and waiting for American planes.
Wobler wasn’t concerned about his safety much of the time but rather about the safety of the men under his leadership. When his first tour of duty was nearing the end, Jeanette said Wobler’s superior officers wanted him to leave earlier than his men but he didn’t want to go without his men.
“When the higher ups called and told him, he was going home Zach was worried about when his men would be returning home,” Jeanette remarked.
An incident during his first tour also left him with a knee injury that could have prevented his second tour but Wobler was determined to return to Iraq. When his squad was handling a check point near one of Saddam’s palace, Wobler argued that the position of the check point was unsafe.
His premonition proved true when two Iraqi women ran a vehicle into Wobler and a fellow soldier stationed at the check point. Wobler injured his knee at that time as he dove to avert the car but he suffered a torn meniscus.
“Army officials wanted to schedule surgery before his second deployment,” recalled Tim, “but that wasn’t the way Zach was.”
His mother added, “That Zach said his men weren’t going without him.”
So Wobler and his squad returned to Iraq to help ensure stability during the upcoming elections. They were also asked to eliminate pockets of resistance that plagued many areas of the country.
Jeanette said unlike her son’s first deployment, the family didn’t keep their television turned to news accounts of the situation in Iraq.
“It was just different,” she said.
One of Wobler soldier’s who was wounded during the attack that claimed his life had asked him to make sure that he returned home alive.
“I remember Zach telling me that Ricky Prada, who was new in the Army and it was his first time, said he was scared,” Jeanette said. “Zach said that Ricky pulled his aside and asked him to please bring him back alive.”
Prada was shot in the leg during the February 6 attack. He is returning to the United States. His commanding officer was not so lucky. Wobler was hit three times by enemy fire, in the arm, leg and behind his vest.
The shot that eluded his vest completely missed his metal plate and went in. The Army hasn’t officially released details the attack on Wobler and Prada but other members of the company relayed the story to Jeanette and Tim.
According to their accounts, Wobler and his men were serving as scout team when they saw something suspicious. Insurgents began firing on the American soldiers. Wobler’s squad had taken out two of insurgents and wounded others when they returned to a building in the area.
Wobler called for another team to come to their aid so they could hunt down the insurgents involved in the incident. As he was watching for the second team to arrive, a carload of insurgents drove by and fired the shots at Wobler and Prada.
His mother said that Wobler was able to stand up and was mad at him for the vulnerability of the group. He wanted to go back to the scene and take care of the insurgents but was transported to a field hospital to prepare for surgery.
Once Wobler went into surgery, doctors were unable to stop the bleeding.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that Zach stepped in front to save Ricky’s [Prada] life,” said Tim. “That’s just something he would have done. I couldn’t be more proud of him if he was my own son.”
The family has been blessed by an outpouring of love and sympathy from the local community, fellow employees, friends and neighbors. Jeanette, who is a sonographer employed by Wellmont-Holston Valley Medical Center, was overwhelmed by her co-workers, who have giving up free days to work in her place.
Wellmont also lowered their flag to half-mast in honor of the fallen soldier. Employees are wearing blue and yellow ribbons in remembrance of Zach Wobler.
Susan Greene, principal at Scott County Career and Technical Center and a fellow parent of a soldier, rallied Scott County Schools to also lower their flags.
Other survivors include his wife, Corissa of Parma, Ohio; his father and stepmother, Tony and Marilyn Wobler of Leipsic, Ohio; his daughter, Trinity Wobler; one brother and sister-in-law, Brandon and Elicia Wobler of Payne, Ohio; his grandparents, Roy and Helen Stoller of Haviland, Ohio, Peg Magnuson of Payne, Ohio; his great-grandmother, Mary Petrozziello of Boston, Mass.; and other relatives, Chad and Rhonda Pester of Miller City, Ohio, Jason and Jami Pester of Ottawa, Ohio, Jami Pester of Atlanta, Ga. and Jeremy Pester of Lima, Ohio.
Jeanette said that Wobler was a joy from the day he was born and that he never caused her a moment’s worry. He so enjoyed life that he never met a stranger.
“People loved him when they met him,” she explained.
But on February 6 after the Postons returned home from Wal-Mart to make duplicates of pictures of Wobler taken in November at his brother’s wedding, Jeanette knew what had happened when the Army van pulled into the driveway.
Zach Wobler was a soldier, who died for country,
doing a job he loved for the land he loved. His efforts will not be forgotten.
28 May 2006:
LEIPSIC, OHIO -- The Memorial Day weekend takes on a whole new meaning for 2,500 American families. That's how many troops have died in Iraq since March, 2003.
"War is hell, people die in wars," said Tony Wobler. His son, 24-year-old Sgt. Zachary Wobler died in Iraq 16 months ago. "Every day I think about Zach in different ways and I miss him, and I know it was important for Zach that he did what he did there," said Wobler.
Only days before Zach's death he tried to reach his dad but had to leave this voice mail: "Hey dad -- this is Zach. I just talked to Brandon. He said you just left the house, I guess I missed you. I won't get a chance to call for a long time so I just wanted to call and tell you I loved you and I'll talk to you when I can." Tony listens to that message almost every day.
Tony plans to speak on Memorial day at Sugar Ridge Cemetery just outside of Leipsic. "Until you lose a child in war like this, I don't think a lot of people realize the significance of what Memorial Day does stand for," said Wobler.
Zach is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. That's where Tony met President Bush. "In all honesty, without trying to be very disrespectful, a lot of the people that made decisions to go into this war never spent a day in the service or battle zones themselves and they don't know what it is like," said Wobler.
Sergeant Wobler was the 82nd Airborne Paratrooper
of the Year before his death.