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Patriotic Article
Heroes and Patriots
By Army SSgt. Ryan Matson

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Fallen Hero Army Sgt. Devin A. Snyder Remembered
(June 26, 2011)

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Army Sgt. Devin A. SnyderLAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan (6/22/2011) – Friends gathered June 10 to remember U.S. Army Sgt. Devin A. Snyder, a military police officer from Cohockton, N.Y. who was one of four military police officers from the 164th Military Police Company, 793rd Military Police Battalion, 3rd Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, killed when an improvised explosive device detonated June 4 outside the village of Khanda in Laghman province, Afghanistan.

Also killed were U.S. Army Sgt. Joshua D. Powell, of Tyler, Texas, U.S. Army Sgt. Christopher R. Bell, of Saint Joseph, Mich., and U.S. Army Spc. Robert L. Voakes, Jr., of Hancock, Mich, and civilian Brett Benton of Dry Ridge, Ky.

Her friends laughed when they thought of her clumsiness.

“She was extremely clumsy,” U.S. Army Sgt. Jonathan Enlow, a team leader from Tahlequah, Okla., remembered with a soft chuckle. “Every time she turned around it seemed she had a new bruise. I used to joke that she could trip over a single sheet of paper!”

“You heard something fall and you knew she was near,” U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Vincent Vetterkind, a squad leader from Wausau, Wis., said with a smile. “You'd laugh at her, and she'd start laughing too.”

The MPs said she was as good-natured about her clumsiness as everything else in her life.

“She would walk into barriers, or trip over little rocks or just her own feet and then kind of smile and look behind her and act like there was something there she tripped over,” Enlow said. “She was always the first to smile.”

“She was someone who was always able to bring a smile out from everybody else, too,” Vetterkind added. “She had the ability to make people laugh or make them feel better if they were having a bad day.”

In reality, the 5-foot-10, tall, thin, Snyder, who some in her platoon nicknamed “Olive Oil,” was an excellent athlete. She was a star soccer player and a high school track champion.

Her friends also described her as superstitious (she would never use a white lighter because she thought it was bad luck) and a bit paranoid, especially after she once found a bug in some Afghan food she was eating.

The other MPs recalled how Snyder fought to go on the deployment with them. She had a physical profile dealing with a circulation condition, but was able to convince the doctors that the condition would be no more of a problem overseas than it was in Alaska and eventually got it lifted.

“She would not give up on coming on this deployment,” Vetterkind said. “She would fight tooth and nail.”

“She always cared more about what was right rather than what was more convenient,” Enlow added. “She wanted to be a good soldier, and she was.”

The soldiers remembered how she had a tough time adjusting to the weather in Alaska, where the 164th is headquartered.

“She wasn't an Alaska person,” Enlow said. “She hated the cold and the snow and said she wanted to move to Georgia.”

Still, Enlow and the other soldiers said she always found a way to have fun and do things with her fellow soldiers, such as buying a pink four-wheeler to ride with them.

“She loved tattoos,” U.S. Army Spc. Jeremy Johnson, a military policeman from Chickasha, Okla., recalled. “She had a half-sleeve of tattoos on one arm and talked about making it a full-sleeve on one arm and then getting one on the other arm, too. I kept giving her a hard time, telling her that someplace in all those tattoos, she should hide ‘Waldo.'”

She was born in Virginia Beach, Va., Aug. 7, 1990, and joined the Army as an MP in 2008 immediately after finishing high school. She served as a team leader, driver, gunner and patrolman with the 164th, which deployed to Afghanistan in March.

Her awards include the Purple Heart, Bronze Star Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Ribbon, North Atlantic Treaty Organization Medal, and the Combat Action Badge.

She is survived by her mother and father.

It was clear that Snyder was loved by her fellow soldiers.

Thinking of her friend, U.S. Army Pfc. Stacey Jordan, a military police officer from Belmont, N.Y., stared down at the table before her with eyes filled with sadness.

“She was my best friend,” Jordan said. “We were always together; she was like my sister. She will be missed.”

By Army SSgt. Ryan Matson
Combined Joint Task Force 1 - Afghanistan
Copyright 2011

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