- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Six-year-old Lauren Stubenhofer yesterday led the Pledge of Allegiance as officials renamed the West Springfield Post Office in honor of her father, Army Capt. Mark Norman Stubenhofer.

Capt. Stubenhofer, 30, of Springfield, was killed by insurgents Dec. 7 during his second tour of duty in Iraq.

More than 100 family members and friends crowded into the West Springfield Government Center meeting room for the ceremony. Attired in a pink dress and with puffy pink ribbons in her black hair, Lauren smiled and waved as guests took available seats.

One of the first speakers talked about Capt. Stubenhofer’s courage and commitment to his family.

“Everyone knows Mark was a very special person,” said Lt. Col. David Batchelor, describing why Capt. Stubenhofer had been awarded two Bronze Stars, the Purple Heart, the Meritorious Service Medal and two Army Commendation Medals.

A native of Alexandria, Capt. Stubenhofer graduated from West Springfield High School in 1992. In high school, he was freshman class treasurer, student government treasurer and baseball second baseman.

Capt. Stubenhofer later graduated from Clemson University and joined the Army. While in the Army, he was certified as a Ranger and paratrooper instructor. He earned the Bronze Star during his first tour of duty in Iraq, according to government documents.

He willingly accepted the second assignment during which he was in charge of about 300 soldiers in Iraq, although he had been preparing for “a dream assignment” in Arlington, Col. Batchelor said.

At the time of his death, Capt. Stubenhofer was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 1st Armored Division, in Fort Riley, Kan.

Col. Batchelor smiled at the captain’s widow, Patty Stubenhofer, as he described how Capt. Stubenhofer defined his job as a commander: “I just want to do what Patty wants me to do; that is, to take care of his family.”

The night of his death, Capt. Stubenhofer went beyond his duties and worked overtime to ensure that contractors had completed a security wall. Insurgents attacked, but the U.S. soldiers fought them off and no civilians got hurt, Col. Batchelor said.

“He ultimately gave the ultimate sacrifice in the nation’s fight against terrorists,” Col. Batchelor said.

The captain’s mother, Sallie Stubenhofer, expressed pride for her son, who was one of five children, emphasizing his constant cheerful attitude and “amazing interest in American history.”

As a boy, he was always smiling, she said, and as he grew into manhood, there “was always a twinkle in his eye.”

“He never gave less than 100 percent,” Sallie Stubenhofer said, contradicting her son’s own appraisal “that he wasn’t a hero” when he came home after the first Iraq tour.

That kind of attitude and his record assured unanimous approval by Congress to rename the West Springfield Post Office in Capt. Stubenhofer’s honor, said Rep. Thomas M. Davis III, Virginia Republican, emphasizing that very few of the nation’s 40,000 post offices are renamed.

The post office at 6200 Rolling Road is now the Captain Mark Stubenhofer Post Office Building.

Patty Stubenhofer was mostly solemn during the ceremony, while Lauren visited with other relatives including her brother, Justin, 4, and sister, Hope, 15 months.

Capt. Stubenhofer never saw Hope. But he made a telephone call to the hospital delivery room when she was born. His wife put the receiver to the baby’s ear as her father spoke to her, said the captain’s father, Norman Stubenhofer.

Other speakers yesterday included former baseball coach Ron Tugwell when West Springfield High won two state titles; schoolmate Ryan Kelly, who is now an aide to Mr. Davis; Springfield Postmaster Walter Honchar; and the Rev. Francis Peffley, of Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Bristow, Va.

The West Springfield High School Madrigals and alumni singers sang in honor of Capt. Stubenhofer.

Capt. Stubenhofer had shown sympathy for children in Iraq. As a result, his family created the nonprofit organization named Mark’s Hope. It collects and sends gifts to children in Iraq. American soldiers there distribute the backpacks, lunchboxes, pencils, pens, erasers and other school supplies, as well as soccer balls and other playthings.

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