Jesse Marinus Halling
89th Military Police Brigade
Attached to 1-22 Infantry
KIA June 7, 2003
PFC Jesse M. Halling was
a member of the 401st Military Police Company, 720th MP
89th MP Brigade, attached to 1-22 Infantry.
He was killed by a
rocket propelled grenade
while defending the Civilian Military Operations Center in Tikrit, Iraq.
He was 19 years old and his home town was listed as Indianapolis, Indiana.
He was at his post at a military police station when his unit began taking small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades.
Halling was praised by
other soldiers for his actions during the battle, ordering others
in his unit to take cover
while he remained at his post and returning fire until he was hit by shrapnel.
Halling, a Ben Davis High School graduate, was awarded a posthumous Purple Heart
and has been nominated for a Silver Star Medal, the Army's third-highest medal for valor
behind the Medal of Honor and Distinguished Service Cross.
PFC Jesse Halling's decorations
Soldiers death is
a reminder of Iraq dangers, mother says
INDIANAPOLIS Tearful mourners gathered June 17 to bid farewell to a decorated Indiana soldier who died
defending his comrades when their unit came under fierce attack in Iraq.
Pfc. Jesse Halling, an Indianapolis teenager, died June 7 during a battle in Tikrit, north of Baghdad.
Theres no greater love than this, than to lay down ones life for ones friends, the Rev. D. Michael Welch told
about 300 mourners during the service at St. Christopher Catholic Church.
Halling, 19, has been widely praised for his actions during the battle, ordering others in his unit to take cover,
while he remained at his post and returned fire until he was hit by shrapnel.
Jesse went over to Iraq to help a people have a freedom, to help a people have a peace, Welch said.
If that peace is going to have any chance it has to start with us. If Jesses life is going to make any sense to us,
we must get in our churches on our knees and thank God for the freedoms weve got.
The words of the Battle Hymn of the Republic soared to the highest reaches as three soldiers marched
to Hallings coffin and draped it with a U.S. flag.
At the gravesite at Crown Hill Cemetery, Brig. Gen. Randal Castro promoted Halling to private first class
and awarded him the Purple Heart and Bronze Star.
The general gave Hallings mother and father two American flags, folded in triangles, on behalf of a grateful nation.
As a bugler played taps, seven soldiers fired a 21-gun salute. The service ended with the release of four white doves,
one for the father, son and holy spirit, and one for Halling.
Hallings mother, Pam Halling, said before the funeral that his death should be a reminder that thousands
of U.S. military personnel still face danger in Iraq.
People are still getting killed in Iraq, she said. Its happening every day.
Since President Bush announced May 1 that major combat operations in Iraq were complete, 50 U.S. soldiers
have been killed, according to the Pentagon.
A day before Hallings burial, Pam Halling broke down in tears as she watched a slide presentation
of snapshots from her sons short life.
Everything was about the military, she said. Ever since he was in kindergarten, drawing pictures of jets
and helicopters and tanks it was just in him.
Funeral Held For
Army: 19-Year-Old's Actions Saved Fellow Servicemen
POSTED: 8:02 p.m. EST June 17, 2003
UPDATED: 10:42 p.m. EST June 17, 2003
INDIANAPOLIS - A
19-year-old Indianapolis soldier whom the Army calls a hero for
staying at his post in an attack
that killed him was laid to rest Tuesday.
Family and friends gathered at Speedway's St. Christopher Catholic Church for the funeral of Pfc. Jesse M. Halling,
who was killed when his unit was attacked June 7 near a military police station in Tikrit, Iraq.
From everything I heard, he went out on a limb for his friends, so we're proud of him," Halling's father,
Al Halling, told RTV6 Tuesday.
Jesse Halling, a 2002 graduate of Ben Davis High School, was awarded a posthumous Purple Heart and has been
nominated for a Silver Star Medal, the Army's third-highest medal for valor. Halling had ordered others in his
401st Military Police Company to take cover during the attack while he remained at his post, trying to reload
his machine gun and firing an M-16 rifle until he was hit by shrapnel.
"He died doing what
he wanted to do, and that was serve in the military and serve his
country. Of course,
that left a big void in our hearts," Al Halling said.
After Jesse Halling's death, the Army made special dog tags and gave them to his loved ones.
The tags featured his name and the words "Iraq War Hero."
"The result of him being in that position saved many others -- they say at least three to five other soldiers' lives --
due to his heroism," Army Brig. Gen. Randal Castro said.
Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson ordered American, state and city flags in Indianapolis to fly
at half-staff Tuesday to honor Halling.
Danny Ahlbrand, a friend of the soldier's, said he and Halling had been planning to start a motorcycle business.
He credits Halling with pushing him to get passing grades in high school.
"I don't think it's going to sink in until August, when I'm expecting him home," Ahlbrand said.
U.S. Soldier Braved Ghosts In Darkness
By William Booth
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, June 13, 2003; Page A01
TIKRIT, Iraq -- On the last night of his young life, Pvt. Jesse Halling was hunkered down with his squad in a
looted Iraqi police station in Saddam Hussein's gritty home town, wet with sweat in his bulletproof vest and helmet,
waiting for something bad to happen. It was what one soldier called "the witching hours."
On June 7, the ghosts came out -- armed with rocket-propelled grenades -- and found a 19-year-old recruit
from Indianapolis. Since Baghdad fell on April 9, 66 U.S. soldiers have died in Iraq, in vehicle and munitions accidents,
drownings, medical emergencies and increasingly, like Halling, in ambushes. In the last 19 days, 10 soldiers have been
gunned down in assaults that appear increasingly organized and sophisticated, carried out by determined foes
that the Pentagon now calls "subversives."
This is the story of one of those soldiers.
Halling's company commander, Capt. Marc Blair, sat this week on a wobbly chair in a hot, barren room on the grounds
of Hussein's Tikrit palace, rubbing his temples, barely talking as his men described the attack to a reporter.
Blair looked grim and sad, and very tired, like he was carrying the weight of the world. "He exceeded what he
should have done," he said of Halling. "And that's why these three men sitting here in front of you today are alive."
"Some people label soldiers 'heroes' who don't reach that level, in my professional opinion," said Sgt. Chris Dozier,
the ramrod-straight and tall leader of the 2nd platoon of the 401st Military Police Company out of Fort Hood, Tex.,
to which Halling belonged. "But Jesse was a hero. And that is what every soldier in the platoon thinks about him."
The room grew smaller, and the soldiers found a wall to stare at for a couple of minutes, blinking.
Into the Crucible
It was after midnight last Saturday, but in the brown, flat semi-desert north of Baghdad, the daytime temperatures
that soar to 120 degrees melt away slowly. The troops who were there that night remember it felt as warm
as a bread oven. Streets were empty, shops shuttered.
In Tikrit, where portraits of Hussein still adorn walls of auto parts shops and kebab joints, many citizens close their doors
at night and stay locked inside until dawn.
Halling's squad had been running patrols earlier that night, and had returned to the walled compound of the Iraqi police station.
Around 2 a.m., the attack started with sporadic but accurate small-arms fire. Pop. Then silence.
Then another crack of rifle. Then nothing but dogs howling.
"They were probing us. Seeing what our reaction would be," said Sgt. Jaime Carrasco, whose men were
three buildings away from Halling's position, at a former municipal building that holds the
Civilian Military Operations Center, known as the CMOC.
Carrasco said it was hard to know, initially, where the shots were coming from. The streetlights were on,
so the men could not use their night-vision goggles. They were looking for muzzle flashes, they said, for phantoms.
Later, they realized their attackers had taken positions on rooftops at several houses directly across the street,
and were moving from house to house, in a classic hit-and-run guerrilla tactic.
Halling was suited up and ready to go.
"We were at the police station and there was a call to respond and Halling's team went out from the station
and immediately started taking small-arms fire," said Staff Sgt. James Ferguson, the leader of Halling's squad.
At first, rifle shots from the Iraqis were focused on the operations center, which was protected by a wall of
sand barricades and concertina wire, as well as an M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle. Then the CMOC was targeted.
The Iraqi attackers seemed to be drawing the soldiers onto the street. "And it wasn't sporadic anymore," Ferguson said.
Suddenly, the Iraqis fired rocket-propelled grenades, lethal missiles designed to splinter into shrapnel fragments
after detonation. Their aim was true, the soldiers said; the assailants knew what they were doing.
As Halling swung out onto the street, "it was a full-out firefight from both sides," Ferguson said.
Tracer fire, sound of big guns emptying, lights and screaming.
Halling was the gunner in a three-man team of MPs, meaning he sat up in the turret of the Humvee,
while the driver, Pfc. Ronald Glass, and the team leader, Sgt. Angel Cedeņo, sat below.
Glass said that Halling was hammering away with his .50-caliber machine gun. Big gouges remain
along the rooftops hit by Halling's fire.
Just north of the CMOC, Halling was reloading his machine gun and squeezing off rounds from his M-16 rifle.
All the while, he was telling Cedeņo and Glass where targets were, and also telling them to watch out,
to get down, Glass recalled.
Cedeņo told the other soldiers later that Halling, by remaining at his post, had saved his life. He never
came down from the turret, seeking shelter in the relative protection of the Humvee, as many soldiers might have done.
From one of the roofs, a rocket-propelled grenade struck Halling's Humvee. The round detonated,
and a hot chunk of shrapnel tore through Halling's jaw.
Someone was shouting: "He's hit! He's hit!"
It was an ugly, mortal wound. Halling was treated in the field. A soldier from the CMOC said he thought
Halling was choking on his own blood from the face wound. He was helicoptered to a hospital but did not make it.
"He never gave up; that's what you should put in the paper," Ferguson said.
'I Never Saw Him Without a Smile'
Halling's family, friends and members of his platoon describe him as a good-looking, all-American type,
with a passion for motorcycles and his Camaro. He wanted to be a pilot, but his eyesight was less than perfect.
So he opted for service in the Military Police corps, and thought about getting laser surgery to correct his vision.
"He was an ordinary guy, but I never saw him without a smile on his face," said Pvt. John Jones,
his roommate from Fort Hood. "He'd smile when we were digging trenches."
Halling enlisted the summer after his high school graduation, and did his 18 weeks of basic and MP training
at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri. In February, he arrived at Fort Hood. On March 23, he deployed to Kuwait
and was in Iraq on the first of May.
One of Halling's fellow soldiers recalled, "He told us his sister was freaked out that he was over here and was
worrying about him all the time." Jesse was close to his sister, Kristina, just two years older. At a memorial service
for Halling on Tuesday afternoon on the banks of the Tigris, in the shadow of one of Hussein's elaborate palaces,
Jones was planning to say a few words. But he couldn't. "It was real emotional," Jones said. There were
200 people there, including Iraqi policemen who fought alongside the U.S. troops.
"I've seen a lot of soldiers in my 13 years in the army," platoon Sgt. Dozier said, "and Halling was definitely
a good soldier. That stood out right away. You could tell he was a good person. That probably came from
the way he was raised. He was mature. Capable. In the army, there are low-maintenance soldiers and
high-maintenance soldiers and no-maintenance soldiers, and he was no-maintenance. Knew his duty and did it."
His fellow grunts described Halling as diligent and decent. He wasn't a gung-ho warrior, but he also wasn't
one of those soldiers always trying to make friends with the Iraqis.
"He was kind," Jones said. "Even though these people don't like us."
Was Halling excited to come to Iraq?
"I don't think any of us were excited to come," Jones answered.
Halling's father, Alma Halling, a former Marine officer, recalled that he warned his son of the dangers
he might face in Iraq. They talked on a satellite phone a few weeks ago, a rushed conversation late on a
Saturday night. "He said the people were really friendly, but you had to keep your distance because you don't know
who is who," Alma Halling said. "That's what makes this war so dangerous now. You don't know who
are the good guys and who aren't."
"He was not shy. I would say he was reserved. He never ever got into trouble. He never got sent to the principal
or got a referral or anything like that," said Natalie Mattingly, his guidance counselor at Ben Davis High School
in Indianapolis, where Halling graduated a year ago. "It takes a brave man to be gentle, kind and considerate
when everyone wants the macho guy."
The high school principal, David Marcotte, said: "Now the perception here and everywhere is the war is kind of
over with. The war isn't over. It brought the war back to the front page for us. We have an awful lot of
young American kids in harm's way over there."
His father said: "I am proud of him. What he did he did to help his fellow friends and buddies.
The only thing is, he had to pay the ultimate price."
Then he said something that's been said many times before, which doesn't make it less true:
"No one should have to lose their children. Parents shouldn't have to bury their children."
Jesse Halling was posthumously awarded a Purple Heart, promoted to private first class and has been recommended
for a Silver Star for gallantry under fire.
He will be buried at Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis, the final resting place for President Benjamin Harrison,
10 Indiana governors and 13 Civil War generals.
Special correspondent Kimberly Edds in Los Angeles contributed to this report.
Birth: Nov. 3, 1983
Death: Jun. 7, 2003, Iraq
Army PFC Halling was assigned to the 401st Military Police Co., Ft. Hood, Texas. Halling was at his post
at a military police station in Tikrit when his unit began taking small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades.
He ordered others in his unit to take cover while he remained at his post and returned fire until he was hit by shrapnel.
Halling, a graduate of Ben Davis High School in Indianapolis, was awarded a posthumous Purple Heart and has been
nominated for a Silver Star, the Army's third-highest medal for valor behind the Medal of Honor and
Distinguished Service Cross. Even as a child, Jesse Halling was focused on life as a soldier.
"Everything was about the
military," said his mother, Pam Halling. "Ever since he
was in kindergarten, drawing pictures
of jets and helicopters and tanks ... it was just in him." Jesse was a good-looking, all-American type,
with a passion for motorcycles and his Camaro.
Crown Hill Cemetery
Grave marker for Jesse M. Halling
Photo by C. Scott from the Find A Grave website
The following was entered into the Public Record on June 11, 2003
Speaker: Senator B. Evan
Title: Honoring Our Armed Forces
Location: Washington, D.C.
HONORING OUR ARMED FORCES
Mr. President, I rise
today with a heavy heart and deep sense of gratitude to honor the
life of a brave young man
from Indianapolis, IN. Private Jesse M. Halling, 19 years old, was killed in Tikrit, Iraq on June 7, 2003
when his military police station came under grenade and small-arms fire.
Jesse joined the Army with his entire life before him. He chose to risk everything to fight for the values
Americans hold close to our hearts, in a land halfway around the world from home.
Jesse was the sixth Hoosier soldier to be killed while serving his country in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Today, I join Jesse's family, his friends, and the entire Indianapolis community in mourning his death.
While we struggle to bear our sorrow over his death, we can also take pride in the example he set,
bravely fighting to make the world a safer place. It is this courage and strength of character
that people will remember when they think of Jesse, a memory that will burn brightly
during these continuing days of conflict and grief.
Jesse Halling was a hard-working student, admired by all who knew him for his strong work ethic
and remembered by both friends and teachers as a well-liked young man.
Friends recall that Jesse always wanted to be a soldier, to follow in the footsteps of his father,
who had served for 4 years in the Air Force.
Jesse graduated from Ben Davis High School in 2002, where he was a member of the weighlifting and Spanish clubs.
After graduating high school, where he served as part of his school's ROTC unit, Jesse joined the Army
in the military police division.
Jesse leaves behind his father, Alma Halling, and his mother, Pamela Halling.
As I search for words to do justice in honoring Jesse Halling's sacrifice, I am reminded of President Lincoln's
remarks as he addressed the families of the fallen soldiers in Gettysburg: We cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate,
we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it,
far above our poor ability to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here,
but it can never forget what they did here. This statement is just as true today as it was nearly 150 years ago,
as I am certain that the impact of Jesse Halling's actions will live on far longer than any record of these words.
It is my sad duty to enter the name of Jesse M. Halling in the official record of the Senate
for his service to this country and for his profound commitment to freedom, democracy and peace.
When I think about this just cause in which we are engaged, and the unfortunate pain that comes
with the loss of our heroes, I hope that families like Jesse's can find comfort in the words of the prophet Isaiah
who said, He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears form off all faces.
May God grant strength and peace to those who mourn, and may God bless the United States of America.
Public Statement, June 11, 2003
Home | Photos | Battles & History | Current |
Rosters & Reports | Medal of Honor | Killed in Action |
Personnel Locator | Commanders | Station List | Campaigns |
Honors | Insignia & Memorabilia | 4-42 Artillery | Taps |
What's New | Editorial | Links |