116th Cavalry Brigade honors fallen comrades in memorial service | News
BAGHDAD — Soldiers and leaders of the 116th Cavalry Brigade joined together with members of United States Forces – Iraq and United States Division – Center for a memorial service, July 13, at Camp Victory in Baghdad to honor the memories of their fallen comrades; Sgt. Nathan Ryan Beyers (posthumously promoted) and Spc. Nicholas Wayne Newby, both of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
Beyers, 24, and Newby, 20, both with B Company, 145th Brigade Support Battalion, out of Post Falls, Idaho, died July 7 in Baghdad, Iraq, of injuries suffered when insurgents attacked their convoy using an improvised explosive device.
The commander of Task Force Dragon, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, XIII Airborne Corps, United States Forces – Iraq, Lt. Col. Peter Im, spoke to the crowd gathered at Hope Chapel, saying words are inadequate to describe the sense of loss.
“We’ve been privileged to serve with these men of character,” he said. “The world is a better place because of the lives of Sgt. Beyers and Spc. Newby and the men and women of Bravo [Company] 145th.”
First Lt. Gordon Zimmer, a platoon leader with B Company, explained that the 116th Cavalry Brigade, the XIII Airborne Corps, and the 145th Brigade Support Battalion has lost two soldiers, but the members of Bravo Company have lost two brothers who will always be in their hearts and minds.
“These two men will forever be etched in my mind, and I will never forget them, and neither will the members of our company,” he said.
Beyers began his military service in Littleton, Colo., in 2006. He transferred to the Idaho Army National Guard in 2007, working as a mechanic and vehicle recovery specialist, operating a wrecker truck.
“He loved working on the wrecker. He took care of the wrecker so well, it was like his own personal vehicle,” said Staff Sgt. Cory North, a friend of Beyers.
North recalled fond memories of pranks played on Beyers as initiation when he first transferred to B Company and the nickname he was given.
“He would spend $4.00 on Fiji water and drink pink chai tea,” said North. “From then on he was known as Fifi.”
North also described Beyers’ selfless motivation throughout the deployment as a member of the Rhino platoon; transporting U.S. personnel in Baghdad from Victory Base Complex to the International Zone.
“He enjoyed being a member of his platoon,” said North. “He stepped up to the plate anytime it was needed, for any job; to be the truck commander, gunner or drive.”
Beyers was known for his willingness to always help out and take on new challenges.
“He was usually one of the first ones to come and ask ‘What do you want me to do?’ or offering to do something you didn’t even know needed done yet,” said Sgt. Mark Kleinbeck, a friend of Beyers who worked with him in the vehicle recovery section. “If you asked him to do something new, that was a challenge and he welcomed it. He’d do the job you asked of him, and he’d always come back and ask what was next.”
Kleinbeck studied diesel mechanic technology with Beyers at North Idaho College before the unit was deployed in September 2010. He said Beyers was always learning, trying to better himself and advance his military career.
“He would pick my brain about everything from the Army, mechanics, and even personal advice,” said Kleinbeck.
His fellow platoon members said Beyers was looking forward to his future. He dreamed of becoming a warrant officer to pursue a career as a helicopter pilot. He always talked about his family and was excited to be father to his 8-month old daughter.
“He talked highly of his life and always had a shiny glint in his eye when he talked about his daughter,” said Zimmer.
“When we were at Camp Shelby, the first thing he did when his daughter was born is text me a picture of his special little girl,” said Kleinbeck. “Since we arrived in Iraq, most of his conversations included his wife and daughter. He couldn’t wait to be home and see his little girl and be the father and husband he always wanted to be.”
Newby enlisted into the Idaho Army National Guard in 2008 as a mechanic. His fellow platoon members said he was unassuming as the small, quiet ‘new guy,’ but as he grew more comfortable in his unit, he became their notorious prankster.
“Spc. Newby was the guy who made us laugh,” said Staff Sgt. Wayne Cridland, a gun truck commander for the platoon.
Cridland described Newby running through the Logistical Support Area squirting people with water guns and informing them that they were now part of his mafia and must join him in initiating others into his mob.
Newby built a ship out of water bottles so he could sail it across the swimming pool. He also stacked cases full of water in front doors and then knocked and ran away.
“It’s not very easy to get that door open with 500 pounds of water bottles in front of it,” said Cridland.
Spc. Michael Longwill, Newby’s friend and roommate, summed-up his character with four words; loud, opinionated, personality and mustache.
“Newby had more personality in his pinky than most people have in their entire body,” said Longwill. “He was always looking to make people laugh and he did so by being loud.”
Longwill remembered Newby whistling 99 Red Balloons in the motor pool, making sure everyone could hear him so the song would stick in their minds.
“He took great pride in hearing twenty-seven voices whistling the same song and he knew it was all because of him,” said Longwill.
The most notorious memory of Newby that his fellow soldiers remembered was his mustache. He decided to grow a mustache during pre-deployment training at Camp Shelby, Miss., to distinguish himself apart from another soldier in the company that he was constantly being mistaken for.
“He grew his mustache over several months, keeping it just within regulation and making sure that everyone knew he, Spc. Newby, had a mustache, not Spc. Hansen,” said Cridland. “After much ribbing and many jokes about the caterpillar under his nose, he decided to dye his mustache black so it would be even more noticeable. And it was. So was the overspray on his upper lip. But the mustache had its intended affect and everyone stopped confusing him for Spc. Hansen.
“When he grew out his mustache, he found out that his hair was light-brown, almost blond, and that wasn’t good enough,” said Longwill. “He went out and got himself a box of facial hair dye and dyed it jet black. Light-brown mustache and light-brown hair simply wasn’t loud enough for Nick.”
Longwill said Newby gave his mustache its own name and personality; Conque Flugenhowgen, a retired lieutenant colonel in the German air force.
Despite the funny business that Newby portrayed, Longwill said he had a strong set of morals and based his opinions on philosophy. He recalled discussing politics with Newby.
“He was set in his ways and he wouldn’t budge for anyone,” said Longwill. “I like that about him, but more often than not it would frustrate me to no end. I would try for hours to get him to see things my way, in my perspective, but he just wouldn’t budge.”
Longwill said he will always remember Newby as a friend, brother, and someone who has forever changed the way he I lives his life.
“Nick was our funny bone and our prankster and he will be sorely missed by all of us,” said Cridland. “Our lives will be diminished without him here.”
Chaplain, Lt. Col. David Tish, of the 116th Cavalry Brigade, ended the services by reminding soldiers in the audience that their actions in Iraq have a higher purpose and make a difference in the greater scheme of life.
“Life and death happen and we control neither one. What we do control is what we do with the life we are given,” said Tish. “We owe it to Sgt. Beyers and Spc. Newby to finish the mission. They would want us to continue the mission that they have left us with. It is because of their sacrifice that we have one more reason to keep going.”