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Patriotic Article
Heroes and Patriots

By Army Spc. Daniel Stoutamire

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Fallen USD-C ‘Dagger' Brigade Soldier Remembered
(February 4, 2011)

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BAGHDAD (February 1, 2011) — Once, while in garrison at Fort Riley, Kan., a soldier with Company C, Special Troops Battalion, 2nd “Dagger” Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Infantry Division received a pass allowing him to go home and see his ailing mother, but he lacked sufficient funds to buy a plane ticket.
First Infantry Division shoulder sleeve insignia – former wartime service (center) and awards and decorations cover the memorial stand, Jan. 19, at a service at Joint Security Station Loyalty, Iraq, honoring the life of Spc. Jose Torre, Jr. (pictured), formerly with Company C, Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Inf. Div., United States Division – Center. Torre died, Jan. 15, 2011 in Baghdad of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit.
First Infantry Division shoulder sleeve insignia – former wartime service (center) and awards and decorations cover the memorial stand, Jan. 19, at a service at Joint Security Station Loyalty, Iraq, honoring the life of Spc. Jose Torre, Jr. (pictured), formerly with Company C, Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Inf. Div., United States Division – Center. Torre died, Jan. 15, 2011 in Baghdad of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit.
Hearing about his friend's dilemma, and without being asked, Spc. Jose A. Torre Jr., a combat engineer with Company C, 2nd AAB, 1st Inf. Div., paid for the ticket.

“I always admired his willingness to help out anyone, and if you ask anyone who has ever interacted with Torre, I would guess they have a few more stories about the size of his heart to help his battle buddies out, many times at his own personal cost,” said 1st Lt. Joshua Willis, Torre's platoon leader with the Route Clearance Team attached to 1st Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd AAB, 1st Inf. Div., United States Division – Center.

Torre, known by his friends as a soldier and person of great generosity, commitment, competence, and passion, died Jan. 15 in Baghdad of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit. He was 21 years old.

A memorial service in his honor was held, Jan. 19, at Joint Security Station Loyalty in Baghdad.
Leaders and soldiers from around the “Dagger” Brigade and USD-C came to pay their respects.

Torre, a Garden Grove, Calif., native, enlisted in the Army in May 2008, and was on his second deployment with the “Dagger” Brigade when he was killed. He is survived by his parents, sister, and brother.

Torre was a natural athlete and excelled at every sport he played, but he especially loved football. His passion for sports was so evident that his friends joked that if he was asked about any sport, even shuffleboard, that he'd have an opinion about who was the best. He became known as the man to go to for sports scores, statistics and news.

Torre's passionate attitudes carried over into his work as a combat engineer.

“He was smart, aggressive, and resilient,” said Capt. Phillip Denker, commander of Company C, STB, 2nd AAB. “He was never at a loss for words, and through his wit and charisma, could make a bad situation a little bit better.”

1st Sgt. Jason Miller, first sergeant of Company C, STB, 2nd AAB, said he was aware of Torre's uniquely generous spirit from an incident that occurred back at Fort Riley.
“It's kind of funny, really,” he said. “My daughter came to my work one day—she was selling Girl Scout cookies—and I told her, ‘You can't tell anyone who your daddy is. You can sell your cookies but you can't let them know.' So I went off on some other business, and came back wondering where she was. Turns out Torre had set up a table in back and was helping her sell her cookies. I was like, ‘This kid's all right.' He was a really special guy.”

He stood out among his peers for his knowledge of his craft and his dedication to making himself and those around him better.

Willis recalled that during training at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk,
Col. Paul Calvert (foreground, left), commander of 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, United States Division – Center, and Command Sgt. Maj. Rodney R. Lewis (foreground, right), command sergeant major of 2nd AAB, 1st Inf. Div., render a final salute Jan. 19, 2011 at a memorial service at Joint Security Station Loyalty, Iraq, honoring the life of Spc. Jose Torre, Jr., formerly with Company C, STB, 2nd AAB, 1st Inf. Div. Torre died, Jan. 15, in Baghdad of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit.
Col. Paul Calvert (foreground, left), commander of 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, United States Division – Center, and Command Sgt. Maj. Rodney R. Lewis (foreground, right), command sergeant major of 2nd AAB, 1st Inf. Div., render a final salute Jan. 19, 2011 at a memorial service at Joint Security Station Loyalty, Iraq, honoring the life of Spc. Jose Torre, Jr., formerly with Company C, STB, 2nd AAB, 1st Inf. Div. Torre died, Jan. 15, in Baghdad of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit.
La., in preparation for this deployment to Iraq, Torre was assigned to a quick reaction force, which is held in reserve in the event of an emergency.
“Normally that's where soldiers go to hide out,” Willis said.

Torre, though, made the most of the situation, mastering every aspect of being on a QRF and turning his team into a well-drilled unit that responded well to a simulated attack.

“When I met Torre for the first time in January 2010, the first thing I thought was, ‘Man, this guy really knows his stuff,'” said Spc. Benjamin Cochran, a combat engineer with Company C, STB, 2nd AAB. “If I ever had a question, he was the first person I came to.”

Torre was seen by everyone who knew him as someone who could be counted on when the chips are down.

“I knew from spending time with him, that I could put my life in this man's hands,” Denker said.

Willis agreed, and said he regarded Torre as a fighter, and a person who wouldn't back down from anything, especially when it came to defending his battle buddies.

“He took the same attitude to the fight (in Iraq),” he said. “He never backed down from wanting to go on patrol. I always felt good knowing in the back of my mind that he had my back. I believe he instilled that warrior spirit in all those he served with.”

“Torre was the greatest friend anyone could ever ask for. He was smart, caring, and the most generous guy I ever knew,” Cochran said. “I truly feel lucky to have known him.”

At the memorial service, Denker read John McCrae's famous poem from World War I, “In Flanders fields,” which reads in part:

We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Willis said he and his platoon would carry Torre's legacy with them for the rest of their lives.

“I realized that even though the enemy would take glory in thinking he took Spc. Torre's life, those feelings would be in vain,” he said. “I saw the influence he had on my life in the short time that I knew him and the influence he had on the platoon. I also saw that the influence would not go away, and even though he gave his life, his spirit will not be taken from his brothers-in-arms.”
Article and photos by Army Spc. Daniel Stoutamire
2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division Public Affairs
Copyright 2011

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