Service away from family an important commitment and choice

September 10, 2011|By DAN DEARTH |
  • Kevin Hurlbrink, who said being away from his daughters makes deployment that much more difficult, believes those who serve know the importance of following through with a commitment.
Submitted photo

"The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Spc. Marshall L. Edgerton, 27, of Rocky Face, Ga., was killed Dec. 11, (2003), in Ar Ramadi, Iraq.

Edgerton was killed when his camp was attacked with an improvised explosive device. He died of his injuries. Edgerton was assigned to Co. A, 82nd Signal Battalion, 82nd Airborne Division, based in Fort Bragg, N.C.

The incident is under investigation."

Source: U.S. Defense Department news release.

"Anyone could have been selected for that detail that cost Edgerton his life. I think a lot of people in my battalion struggled with that."

Those are the words of Kevin Hurlbrink, a 1999 Boonsboro High School graduate who served with the 82nd Airborne Division in Iraq from 2003-04.

Hurlbrink, who left the Army and now serves with the 167th Airlift Wing of the West Virginia Air National Guard, recently was interviewed via email shortly after he arrived at his duty station in Afghanistan.

Hurlbrink said he and Spc. Marshall Edgerton weren't best friends, but acquaintances who knew each other well enough to say hello in passing or to stop to talk.

It was in December 2003, Hurlbrink said, when Edgerton was selected for an escort detail.

The men on the base were assigned to details all the time, and the start of that day was no different then any other.

Hurlbrink said Edgerton was assigned to escort three Iraqis who came on the base to work. After their vehicle was checked by military police, Edgerton got onboard and they drove off.

"There were three artillery rounds daisy-chained together and hidden inside the gas tank," Hurlbrink said. "They drove about 100 yards on to our base and blew the vehicle up. Everyone in the vehicle, including Spc. Edgerton, was killed."

Hurlbrink said Edgerton's death affected everyone in the camp; it proved no one was safe.

"We all learned first-hand that complacency has no place in war," he said. "If one person fails to do their job, it could cost you your life or the life of someone else. There's always a sort of survivor's guilt, too."

When asked if serving his country was worth leaving his wife, Angela, and daughters Presley and Marley for many months at a time, Hurlbrink said he believed those who serve know the importance of following through with a commitment.

"We do have an all-volunteer service. No one is forced to sign (on) the dotted line," he said. "It is difficult to leave my family, but we understand the highs and lows of the service. I guess to put it in perspective, over my 10 years of service, for every undesirable duty, deployment or detail there has always been great friends at every turn and new opportunities to do things most people never get the chance to do.

"Who can say they have jumped out of planes, shot weapons, been around the world and back, witnessed in person different cultures and ultimately have developed the perspective through my travels that we truly are a blessed and fruitful nation with much to be thankful for?

"When you end up in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, you truly see all that we take for granted as Americans."

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