Fallen Heroes of Operation Iraqi Freedom

Remembering the servicemembers who died in the service of their country.

Army Cpl. Gary B. Coleman

24, of Pikeville, Kentucky.
Coleman was on patrol in Balad, Iraq when the vehicle he was driving flipped over into a canal trapping him inside the vehicle. He was assigned to B Company, 1st Battalion, 68th Armored Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division (Mech), Fort Carson, Colorado. Died on November 21, 2003.

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"Still remembered !"
C. Rutledge of Oregon

"Dude hope your half way down the trail. To the tankers you know what happened that night and I hope you come to peace with it rather than attack MSG Dingle for stating the truth. To the civilians who were half way around the world the night this hero died I'm sorry for your loss. I only knew him in passing and I still feel the loss. I can only imagine how you feel. To MSG Dingle we were there we know how things went down. When A man is trapped in a gunners hatch from a rollover there is no excuse for men to be warming themselves up on the scene."
Larry of Colorado

"We'll it took y'all forever to get their we was not close to anybody and heck it was just Humvee and a tank at night and it took the tank a few minutes to find us when we hit the water then they called it in and time the first people was their it had been more then ten minutes which it was 2nd platoon and the one that was took to the back off the tank was me I past out while looking for him the people from my unit took me to the back because I could hardly walk from trying to hold my breath and opening the doors so don't say he was able to have surivied and seeing him lifted out of the water was the worst feeling ever ya did not spend the day talking to him the day before and know him to say ya seen everyone behind the tank it was me but I promise you it took y'all long time to get their plus this is not the place time y'all got their had to be thirty minutes the least it took us forever to get where we was so ya don't know shut your mouth for his family and talk about how good colemen was and not writing stuff on his memorial and god bless his family for raising an awsome men"

"To family and friends of CPL Gary B. Coleman,
At the request of A. Stevenson who alerted me to this page I am commenting. This is from my perspective and what I saw and knew at the time. Please understand that we were in a fairly large Armor Battalion with all having different mission so many of my guys didn’t know others from other companies nor what they were always doing. My name is Jerome Dingle and at the time I was the Platoon Sergeant of the Scout platoon that was within TF 1-68AR. I along with then SGT Colin Frederick were the two NCOs who assisted in the recovery of the CPL Coleman's body. I don’t care to say WE recovered his body because there is nothing special about what we did. We did what any Soldier should and will always do…come to the aid of his brothers and do what must be done hince the term assisted. My platoon was on QRF that night when we got the call that someone rolled a vehicle and the BC aka LTC Gardner and medics needed an escort to the scene. It bothered me greatly later on that at the time, no one told us that someone was in a vehicle which had over turned and was in a canal; had we been told that we would have driven faster than what we did. When we arrived on the scene we did as we always did we set up security with whoever was already there and then proceeded to provide augmented security for the area. I didn’t see guys in the water when I got there and there were guys huddled around the back of a tank. Now please be mindful, we had been on the scene all of 5 minutes and I (I will not speak for other members of my platoon who were there) assumed that it was merely an over turned up armored.
SFC Trujillo came over to speak to the BC and I moved forward so I could hear what was going on. It was during this conversation that I learned that CPL Coleman was possibly still in the truck. I casually turned and walked until I found Fred and we had a brief conversation and it sounded a lot like this:
“Hey man, there’s a dude still in that (insert curse) truck!”
“For real?!?, said Fred.
“Hey man, I know you can’t (curse) swim and I (curse) cant either. But we need to get in there.”

This was the first time I think in my military career I ever told someone to do something and go no questions or comments in return. Fred’s response was simple, “OK.” We stripped down our gear and got down in the water. Yes, it was cold, November and we got in this cold and muddy water. I don’t know how long we were in before we found his Load Bearing Equipment (LBE). I had inserted my body inside the truck and had Fred hold my head above water as I had almost drowned twice as a child so I didn’t and still don’t care for the water today. When I got his LBE, looked over at Fred and said, “(curse)!, I think he’s in here.” I told Fred don’t say a word until I’m sure I have him. I thrust my body and legs as far as I could and I felt him and pulled him towards me with my feet until I could get him between my legs and at this time I was beginning to shake and I was scared. I looked over at Fred and told him I got him. He asked if I was sure and I said, yeah…I’m sure. As I pulled him towards me Fred shouted we have him and others rushed down into the water and grabbed him from us. I stayed in the water for a little while cursing until my BC in a very stern and firm voice told me to please get out of the water.
Once out the water we heard that due to the cold they may have a chance to revive him. We were excited and cursing at folks to get out of our way and we'd escort them out. We got dressed and drove like bats outta hell to LSA Anaconda and told the guards, as nicely as possible to please move and open the gate so we could not stop when the FLA came by. Once at the CASH we got inside and were kinda happy and thought, hey, we got here in time and he’s gonna be ok. Then my BC walked in and I saw it on his face and we all started crying and cursing. When we got back to our bunker members of my platoon were asking what happened. And Soldiers are Soldiers they are young and sometimes make assumtions without facts. They are always gonna adlib and or fill in the blanks when they don’t have all the information. Some of the guys did say the “tankers” were standing around and some were behind the tanks warming up. But they didn’t know they had been in the water. And since we didnt work with anyone in Bravo...they never had time to sit and or ask anyone. We all never sat down and discussed what took place that night and compared notes and or stories. I wrote about it in my Journal and spoke to my PL about it that night.
My platoon was asked to the do the funeral detail (i.e. the firing salute and we were still running missions)my then CPT Bailey so that all Company members could attend. I told him it'd be our honor and we'd handle it. So we (my scouts) never actually attended the memorial service. And after the salute was finished, all save me and my PL, went back to the bunker. And by the time we got there the service was over and most had left. So I never spoke to any of the Company members excpet two or three guys. So I can’t speak for the “scout” who made the comment but I’m truly sorry for any pain the young man may have caused any and all family members and friends. I honestly do not think it was his intension. I just think the young man (very young in 2003) only spoke what he witnessed and missed many of the facts. While stationed at Knox from 05-08 I ran into a young man who was one of CPL Coleman’s good friends and we talked about riding out to visit the family and or pay our respects. I wasn’t sure how we would be received and didn’t want to cause any problems and or pain so I just never bothered. I was back at Knox from 08-10 and again wanted too but didn’t really know how to go about finding his folks and seeking permission to visit his grave.
That night will sit with me for the rest of my life. I used to think “what if” but learned that I couldn’t do that as it would not bring any peace. I have two bracelets I wear in memory of Gary and although I never met him or knew he even existed until that night I will not soon forget him. Please forgive for the length and or any spelling errors. Wasn’t exactly easy writing all this with water in my eyes. I along with Fred are both on facebook and if you wish to ever contact me or what not by all means please feel free to do so."
Jerome Dingle of Fayetteville, NC

"My name is Jason Gallegos and I am the Platoon Sergeant and vehicle commander during that fateful accident. Brent was the life of that Platoon, embodied everything that we were. The loss of Brent was extremely tragic. For the "Scout" to come here to this forum and Slander the Platoon in Brent's name is completely inappropriate. The scout was not there when the incident happened. He was a third responder after the QRF. He does not know what we went through to gain access into that Humvee as the doors were mired in mud, pinned against the bank and would not open as time was melting away. To say that we left Brent to die for the sake of getting warm is a most complete erroneous, irresponsible and RECKLESS statement. When the Scouts arrived on scene is the time we finally got the rear door open and that was the door he was pulled out by the Scout PSG. Sir, your statement has upset the family and his fellow brothers. We have worn his bracelet every single day and he will Never Be Forgotten. His Platoon has made sure that he will be forever a part of our legacy and thank God that CSM Dailey and LTC Sassman from 1-8 Infantry took Brent in and will forever be memorialized as part of the Fighting Eagles because your hero LTC Garner didn’t do anything to memorialize him. We, 1st Platoon made sure his legacy will live on forever as his shadow box is proudly displayed in D CO 1-8 Infantry (formerly B CO 1-68 Armor.) As you see you have touched a nerve and upset the family. His Biological family and his Band of Brothers! Mr. Unknown, please keep your opinion and interpretation of the incident after the fact to yourself /or inner Scout circle. Very inappropriate!"
Jason Gallegos

"To the scout it funny how ya say your sgt pulled Colemen out and you had enough time to look around and ya was not their just after the wreck it took 20 min for anybody to show up I was in the cold water for atleast 10 min looking for him and you don't have to live it everyday of your life because I knew him better then you so don't blame just thank god and Colemen for the time on earth god needed a warrior in heaven and got him but yes we are tankers and we did what any good soilders would do protect and serve I pray that god comes to your heart and learn don't judge until ya know what happen before ya got their and to the family of Colemen I am thankful for y'all and for Colemen and I hope that me writing this did not disrespect y'all and his memorial and plan on comeing to visit the grave of my brother,friend,tanker"

"Hopefully this will be the last time we will have to write about this. To the scout that wrote about the night Brent died, respectfully Brent's mother and I disagree with what you wrote. Brent is my nephew and my sister's son. We have met with one of the soldiers who tried to save Brent and are sure you are mistaken. These soldiers loved Brent. We had a soldier who came to KY two summers ago to pay respect at Brent's grave and spent the day with us and there are a couple more coming this summer. They all loved and miss Brent.

Before you got to the canal, the soldiers were doing everything they could to get Brent out of the vehicle. They were in the water for some time before the scouts came to help. When your unit showed up, they were told to come out of the water and let the scouts go in. What you said was so disrespectful to Brent and his brothers. You made it sound like they didn't care about Brent and waited around for someone to come and rescue him. This couldn't be farther from the truth. You have upset a lot of people, Brent's buddies, and more importantly, his mother. I choose to think you don't know all the facts, but you need to know that everything was done by his brothers to save him. Unfortunately, Brent died but it wasn't because his unit left him. You just weren't there to witness their heroic efforts to save him."
Teresa Adkins of Pikeville, KY

"This post is for the "Scout" that needs to be put in his place. First off, yes Brent was a great guy and an awesome brother and friend to me. He sacrificed his life for our country and dead or alive, I will not let him be disrespected. Your post or your so called "truth" needs to be posted on a blog somewhere because this is not the place. This is a place for POSITIVE and memorable moments about Brent, not to give your perspective of how he passed. This also is not a place to try and remind everyone of how he passed. How about show some respect and honor that he deserves instead of trying to put your spin on what happend. Go post this crap in the "Stars and Stripes" or something. Better yet, go get you a counselor if it has eaten you up. Hell I did and I'm not ashamed to admit I went to counseling for a year over things that happend in Iraq. Then not only that, you have alot of nerve to make a post that is suppose to be about Brent all about tankers and scouts. If you feel scouts did more then tankers then that's your own damn opinion, which you really need to seek counseling if you think that. Point being, this is not the place to state your opinion on such a subject as it is so irrelevant. This is a place to respect and honor a man that we lost. We all had a job to do over there and we played with the cards dealt to us. Unfortunately, we didn't come back with everyone. Just so you know, your post upset his family and I can only imagine how they feel. I am upset myself which is why I am taking the time to tell you about yourself. So if you don't have anything positive or memorable to say about Brent, keep it to yourself.

From a TANKER, was stationed at FT CARSON

On another note: Brent, I miss and love you man. You will never be forgotten and never be disrespected, not on my watch!"

"First of all Gary was a great person and this message in no way takes anything away from him at all. He died for his country and that can't be taken away. I was there just after Gary's truck flipped over with the scouts of 168 ar. [Remainder of message has been removed.]"
168 ar scout of ft. Carson, co

"I think god for him he gave his life for us"
frankie basinger of cullman Al

"November 8, 2008
To the family of Cpl. Gary B. Coleman:
Gary gave the ultimate sacrifice and will be held in the hearts of Americans forever. I cannot and will not let our fallen heroes be forgotten. My deepest sympathy to you. "Some gave all."
Peggy Childers
"Don't Let The Memory Of Them Drift Away"
Peggy Childers of Carson City, NV

"This was my mans i was part of his funeral RIP my prayer to your family"
Chris Hearon of Chicago,Il

"Coleman Family
I was so saddened by the loss of your son. He will always be a hero and we
were all proud of him. May God be with you. Janie and Gary , my heartfelt condolences go out to you both."
Patricia Little Howell of Pikeville , Kentucky

"Coleman's family:
It's been just over 3 years now since that night. I think about it every day of my life, and how much I miss him. He was a great man, soldier, but most of all friend. Today on Thanksgiving, I give you my thanks. Thank you for raising a true American Hero that gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country. I'll never forget my brother."
SSG Z of New Jersey

"God had another mission for Brent, he served well on Earth. His friendship meant so much to me in High School. Thoughts of him will remain with all who experienced his life. May God watch over us all to recognize His will."
Nirasha Gail Holcomb of Santa Barbara, California

"To the family of:Gary B. Coleman I am so sorry for the loss of your love one. My heart cries out for you in your grief and you have my thoughts and prayers. He died a hero defending freedom. May you have the peace and understanding that only comes from God. Prayerfully we will all meet in Heaven one day where we will rest in the arms of Jesus. If you need prayer or need someone to talk to, please call or write my pastor: Rev. John Pearrell 11677 Brown Bridge Rd., Covington, GA 30016. (770)787-1015. Your friend in Jesus Christ, Polly Ballew Covington,Ga"

"My name is James Berka. My brother served with Brent in Iraq and roomed with him at Fort Carson. They were great friends. I met Brent once when I went out to Fort Carson to visit. He was a very nice guy. With the exception of my brother, I consider him my direct connection to the price of this conflict. As Joel gets closer and closer to another tour in Iraq, I think more about Brent. I know how much he meant to my brother. I am thankful for him and for all the others who made such a sacrifice. I will always remember."
James P Berka of Saint Paul, MN

"I don't know if this is still active or not. My son, Joel, was Brent's room mate at Ft. Carson and was in his platoon in Iraq. Joel considered Brent his best friend. We still have the flag that the platoon placed on Brent's bunk after his death.
Joel is now with the 1st Cav in Ft. Hood and will be returning to Iraq this fall. We visited Ft. Hood in February and visited the 4th I.D. memorial there with Brent's (Gary's) name on it.
I want you to know your son remains on our minds. I hope you get this."
James L. Berka of Titonka, Iowa/jmberka@netins.net

"CPL Coleman was a great Soldier and person. Although we didn't hang out too much due to our different mission requirements, we would run into each other in the MWR bunker every once-in-a-while and spend time talking about civilian life, working out, and cars. I feel blessed to have known and served with CPL Coleman. He was the kind of person I wish everybody would have known, as I'm sure he would have touched everybody's life the way he did mine. He will always be in my memories and his family will always be in my prayers."
SGT Juan Galvez-Vargas of Wilmington, CA, U.S.A.

"He will be missed, I may not know you vey well, but I know how you are feeling,my brother was killed there too. His name is Privet Kenneth vonRonn. my heart gose out to you and your family.If you wanted to talk or write, my # is 845 744 2929. my address is 3756 r.t 52 pobox 368 walker vally n.y 12588. thank you."
Courtney vonRonn and the vonRonn family of Walker Valley N.Y

"Brent is my nephew and is deeply loved and missed. I would really appreciate anyone who served with Brent to e-mail me at www.tadog@550access.com. You know when you've lost someone (especially in this way) you want to make sure they are never forgotten and I am sure his mother would love to hear from his buddies. I understand his unit is back in Iraq and I plan to send them packages just like we did for Brent. God Bless You All."
Teresa Adkins of Pikeville, KY USA

"brother, i miss you, my life will never be the same. i thank God that i had the wonderful opportunity to know you. catfish misses you too."
tony of wenatchee

"I am hoping that someone who finds this webpage will be able to help me. I am trying to reach the family of this soldier so that I can mail them a flag that was flown in his honor in Charleston, SC. If you have any information on how to reach them please email me at emmylou9@hotmail.com. Thank you!"
Emmy of Charleston, SC

"Hello. I saw Gary in an issue of "People" magazine. I was delighted that the magazine paid tribute to those that perished instead of the usual star gossip.

I want to thank Gary for his honor, bravery and courage. I also want to say to his family I am so sorry for the loss!

God pick's his roses, and Gary is in paradise now!

He was a very attractive gentleman as well. <3

God Bless! glamgal4ever@yahoo.com"
Colleen Marie of Pittsburgh PA

"Corporal Coleman, goodbye soldier and thank you. You are my hero."
Bill of Houston, Texas

"I was deepley hurt when i found out Gary had perrished. He was a great guy. I went to basic with him at Fort Knox. My prayers are with all of his family."
SPC James R. Wade of Hohenfels, Germany

Please KNOW so many people share your sadness, and we are remembering your family in your loss and your deep grief. Your HERO, Gary, will be remembered by name. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. God Bless you. Pat & Sandi Breckenridge from Montana "

"OUR special chosen words since day one of finding this site last year...have always been......REST IN PEACE BRAVE SOLDIERS/MARINES/WARRIORS We love you and MAY GOD BLESS you each. Your loved ones are in a beautiful place called Heaven now....When you look up to the sky at night and see the brightest star...it's your hero..shining down on you.."
The Taylors USMC of NC

"Thank you Gary Coleman, you will not be forgotten. Your bravery goes beyond words. I want to express my deepest gratitude for your sacrifice. To the family and friends, my prayers and deep condolences in your loss. May God strengthen you from knowing that fellow Americans and people around the world care about you and grieve with you in your loss. God bless you all. A very appreciative fellow American,"
Leo Titus of Grayslake, Illinios

"Sir / Ma'am,
As I glanced through these names posted to this website, my heart broke in two, as I read of your son's passing. My prayers will be with you for the duration of my days on this earth. I hope I get to meet your son in heaven, and thank him for the service to our great nation. I am an Army Reservist and I would be proud to stand and fight for my country as your son did. May God Bless your Family."
Matt Smith of Williamsburg, KY

"To the family and friends of Cpl. Gary Coleman:
May God's grace be with you during your time of grief. Please know that our thoughts and prayers are with you and we feel your loss and share in your sorrow. Bless Gary for the sacrifice he has made to make a better life for the rest of us."
The Ford Family of Wells, Nevada

"To the family and friends of Cpl. Gary Coleman:
I am saddened by the loss of your loved one. He will always be remembered as a hero for fighting for freedom. I hope that this website will be a source of comfort and encouragement for you during this difficult time, and in the future as you recall the memories of Gary, who continues to live on in your heart."
Tim Rivera of Powder Springs, Georgia

Honor them by remembering... Freedom - is their gift to us But his soul goes marching on