Spec. Chris McCann
2nd Brigade Combat Team Journalist
MAHMUDIYAH, Iraq – Patriotic country songs and music from the movie “Braveheart” drifted out of the maintenance bay as Soldiers gathered to mourn 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (LI)’s first loss in this rotation to Iraq.
Spec. Bobby T. Callahan, 22, was a squad leader in Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment. A mortarman and squad leader, Callahan died when a humvee overturned into a canal Sept. 19 near Mahmudiyah. Soldiers of his squad said he made sure they were out, but he was unable to get free in time despite their assistance.
It was Callahan’s second deployment with 4-31 Infantry.
Sgt. Eric Schultz, a close friend of Callahan’s, gave a tribute during the ceremony.
“He was a quiet leader,” Schultz said. “He led by example. And he was a young leader, in charge of that truck. He was always learning.”
Friends, laughing at the memories despite the somber occasion, recalled that Callahan was “really hard to wake up.”
“He’d do odd things (in his sleep),” said Staff Sgt. Terry Spiecher, a platoon sergeant for C Company, 4-31 Infantry. “He’d put on a fleece jacket as pants. He could always make people smile. He had a broad sense of humor, loved to crack up.”
“Everybody (who) met him got a good vibe from him,” Schultz said. “He was easy to carry on a conversation with, a simple guy. He loved to sing – (contemporary) rhythm and blues – anything.”
When the roll was called at the ceremony and volleys fired, many Soldiers wept. Final respects were paid with coins and salutes, from Maj. Gen. James Thurman, 4th Infantry Division commander, to the junior enlisted troops in the company. Several knelt before the upright M-4 carbine and took the dangling dog tags in hand as if making sure of the name.
Soldiers drifted away after the ceremony, back to work or to reminisce.
Although Callahan is no longer with them in body, he is in spirit, said Schultz.
“We can’t touch him with our hands, but we can carry him in our hearts.”
His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star, an Army Commendation Medal with “V” device, an Army Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster, a National Defense Service Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal, a Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, a Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, a Good Conduct Medal, an Army Service Medal and a Combat Infantryman Badge.
Callahan was posthumously promoted to corporal Sept. 24.
He is survived by his wife, Kristen, from Central Square; and his mother, Robin Minor, father, David Callahan, and sister, Sarah Callahan, of Jamestown, N.C.