Post office renamed for soldier

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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.

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