- The Washington Times - Monday, March 16, 2009

Staff Sgt. Chad Caldwell called his wife from Iraq the night his first son was born and heard his son’s first loud cry over a cell phone. Caldwell joined the Army in 2002, served one tour in Iraq, then a second combat tour in Afghanistan. In February 2007 he signed up for an another tour in Iraq.

Caldwell, 24, of Spokane, Wash., was killed April 30, 2008, when a roadside bomb exploded while he was on patrol in Mosul. He was married with two young sons, Trevor and Coen.

His Killer Blue comrades and his mother remember him:

“He could flip the switch … that was a brilliant thing about him. We could be bone tired running all the time and we would get some place and just pissed off and look across and he has a big grin like, what’s up, smoking cigarettes. He was a very hot-and-cold kind of guy but all in a good way.”

“I would probably tell Trevor and Coen that their dad would never want them to feel bad about anything. He was always getting over the troubles at the time and going on to the next thing. He was very resilient, he was a good guy and my friend.”

“He really loved his boys, he loved them a lot. If his family wanted to know anything, if I could tell them anything it’s that he loved his boys and that he wouldn’t want them to dwell around too much. He would want them to move on and do something fun, do something that makes you happy, makes you feel good.”

_ Lt. Rusty Morris

“Sgt. Caldwell was, I would say, the life of the platoon. He was the party. He gave us a lot of direction. He gave us a lot of what to do in our off time. He gave us excellent guidance of what to do when on patrol.”

“His method of instilling the training required to survive there was jovial. I mean, faced with the seriousness of the circumstances, he had a very cavalier way of instilling the discipline and the tactics we needed to survive. And that gave us purpose. That gave us attitude.”

“He was very colorful. He had a very good way of describing things in a way you would never even consider.”

“He had a colorful way of describing people, especially people he knew, that always brought a smile to even to the person he might have been calling a name. He was very fun to have around.”

“He was a light scout and people kind of look up to light scouts because they are the kind of guys that do all the cool scout stuff that we wanted to do when we joined.”

“He had that rare quality were he could be your buddy and he could be your disciplinarian, which is unique and pretty cool.”

_ Sgt. Cole Weih.

“The table was where the NCOs and enlisted joes would come together and kind of become the same society. Thinking about it now maybe it was Sgt. Caldwell that bridged that gap because he was friends with a lot of the lower enlisted guys without sacrificing his ability to be a leader.”

“Sgt. Caldwell was the kind of person that made it possible for the NCOs to hang out with the joes and just be all cool together and be out there playing chess and talking junk to each other and listening to music and stuff like that.”

“He also loved to yell at his driver. He would get into long complicated explanations trying to convince me that I was the worst driver ever. Some days he would take me aside and say `good job, Stopps’ and for the next couple of days I would be beaming with pride. He had that kind of effect on joes. I wanted to make him proud so badly that I would have done anything he told me.”

“The day he died we were talking about reenlisting he said he couldn’t understand wanting to be anything than a scout, that’s all he ever wanted to do.”

_ Spc. Nathan Stopps

“He liked to get us a little riled up. Put a smile on his face when were were getting on each other. Just having fun. Just always liked to be in the mix. Really down to earth, even for being an NCO. He was down to earth and overall a great guy.”

_ Spc. Derek Griffard

“I realized how strong and independent he was on his first day of school. I was ready to take him, meet his teacher and get him settled in when he told me, `No Momma, I’m going to take the bus with the big kids!’ His mind was made up and there was no changing it. So off he went to the corner, he stood between two cute older girls with a smile from ear to ear. We both survived. (Yes, I followed the bus!)”

“As he grew up he developed a passion for people. Children especially. He was available to those that needed him and wanted to help however he could.”

“In someways you knew exactly what to expect with Chad, yet sometimes he was full of surprises.”

“I think the biggest surprise for me was when he joined the Army. He always said he had no desire to be a military man. It was winter break, I was out of town. He called me and said, `Hey Momma, guess what I just did _ I signed up!’ … No `let’s talk about it’ or `I think I might.’ It was a done deal.”

“Looking back, even considering the outcome, I have to say it was the right thing for Chad. He had made some bad choices along the way and the Army gave him direction, a sense of pride, and self-discipline. The Army allowed him to be the best he could be.”

During his last tour, he had decided to re-up. When I asked him why, he told me: `I do what I do because I am good at it. I need to do what I can to make this world a better place for my ‘lil mans.’ Trevor and Coen were his world.”

_ Carol Caldwell

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