SPC Holly J. McGeogh
Company A 4th FSB
4th Infantry Division (Mechanized)
Killed in Action January 31, 2004
PFC McGeogh was a member
of Company A 4th Forward Support Battalion and was attached to
She was killed near Kirkuk, Iraq, when the convoy in which she was travelling was attacked
by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED). She was posthumously promoted to the rank of Specialist.
Also killed in the blast were Cpl. Juan C. Cabralbanuelos, 25, of Emporia, Kan.,
and Sgt. Eliu Miersandoval, 27, of San Clemente, Calif.
Holly was 19 years old and her home town was listed as Taylor, Michigan.
She was a light-truck mechanic.
She was a 2002 graduate of Truman High School and a member of the school's ROTC program.
Her family released the following statement on Feb 2, 2004:
"Holly is another
reminder that our freedom truly is not free.
Holly and her friends paid the ultimate price for all of us, without complaint or regret.
Please stand behind our soldiers and their families and show your support."
PFC Holly McGeogh in Iraq
"When Holly arrived in Iraq
in the beginning of April we didn't get our first phone call from
her until the end of May.
I remember asking her if she was afraid and she told me 'NO.' I told her that she had a lot more balls than me because
I would be lying in the middle of the desert crying, 'I want my Mom.' We laughed so hard on the phone. That was the first time
that I told Holly that she was 'My Brave Little Soldier.' Since that day in Iraq she has been known to many as my brave little soldier."
------Paula Zasadny (Holly's Mother)
In Iraq Holly would volunteer to go out on patrol, and would be disappointed if she wasn't picked to do so.
Lieutenant Colonel Steve Russell wrote of Holly:
"I had scolded my
operations sergeant, Gil Nail, about Holly sneaking onto combat
patrols. More than once,
while on patrol, I had discovered her pulling security when we dismounted our Hummers."
Of the fatal convoy in which Holly was killed, LTC Russell wrote:
"When my support company
soldiers working on vehicles in the brigade's support area were
asked if they could support
the convoy, Sergeant Eliu Mier and Corporal Juan Cabal volunteered to add their Hummer as trail security. Their cargo Hummer,
A-17, was a welcome addition, boasting a Mark 19 40mm Grenade Laucher in a makeshift mount in the back. Volunteering
to man that grenade launcher, Private First Class Holly McGeogh again jumped at the chance to go out on patrol.
To crew A-17 and take up rear security, a more veteran roster of fighting mechanics could not be found. Sergeant Mier
was level headed and perhaps the ablest wheeled mechanic in our entire task force. Corporal Cabral had already received
a Purple Heart for actions in June when he had gone forward to work on C Company vehicles, being wounded by an RPG rocket.
As for Holly McGeogh, I had to mildly reprimand her for sneaking onto my command convoy during combat patrolling
more times than I could count, although this did allow her to introduce, "Duck, Duck, Goose" to throngs of Iraqi children
on one of our more civil liaisons." *
* From the book: WE GOT
HIM! by Steve Russell
Deeds Publishing Marietta, GA
Specialist Holly McGeogh's decorations
Family mourns soldier's death
Mich. woman killed by roadside bomb in Iraq
February 3, 2004
BY MARISOL BELLO
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER
Army Spec. Holly McGeogh's family thought they had lost her last October when a female soldier in her division was killed in Tikrit, Iraq,
outside Saddam Hussein's palace gates.
The family lived a nightmare for two days.
But McGeogh called home to let them know that although she was OK, the soldier who died was her friend and roommate.
McGeogh told her family then that if she were killed in battle to remember she died for a reason and a cause she believed in.
Now, McGeogh's family must remember her words and take them to heart.
On Saturday, McGeogh of Taylor became Michigan's first female soldier killed in the conflict in Iraq when a homemade bomb exploded
on the side of the road as her convoy drove past.
"Holly will always be remembered as a very brave solder, with the support of her family and friends," said a statement released Monday by her family.
McGeogh, 19, was one of three soldiers killed in the roadside explosion near Kirkuk, the Defense Department said Monday.
McGeogh was assigned to Company A, 4th Forward Support Battalion, 4th Infantry Division, from Fort Hood, Texas.
The Defense Department identified the other two soldiers killed in the explosion as Cpl. Juan C. Cabralbanuelos, 25, of Emporia, Kan.,
and Sgt. Eliu Miersandoval, 27, of San Clemente, Calif.
The Pentagon said the incident was under investigation.
Kirkuk, a major oil producing area, is about 60 miles north of Tikrit, where the 4th Infantry Division is based.
McGeogh's family and friends learned of her death Saturday, said family friend Darlene Siemienski, who was serving as a family spokeswoman.
Siemienski and McGeogh's mother, Paula, met through Dearborn-based Michigan Military Moms, a support group. McGeogh's mother
joined the group after her daughter, the oldest of her two children, enlisted.
McGeogh graduated from Truman High School in Taylor in 2002, where she was a cadet in the Junior ROTC for four years.
Her guidance counselor, William Teller, said McGeogh won numerous awards and recognition as a cadet.
"She was totally dedicated to going into the Army -- that was her destiny," Teller said.
McGeogh joined the Army immediately after graduation. McGeogh served almost a year in Iraq and was preparing to return home in March.
McGeogh is the 21st Michigan member of the armed forces killed in operations in Iraq.
Contact MARISOL BELLO at 734-432-1785 or email@example.com.
Detroit Free Press http://www.freep.com/
Holly McGeogh, left, and
her mother, Paula Zasadny at Family Day in Fort Jackson, S.C.
She was killed in January 2004 near Kirkuk.
Soldier was looking forward to return home
More than anything, Spc. Holly McGeogh, 19, wanted to go home.
She was weeks away by January 2004, and her missives home to suburban Detroit were dripping with anticipation and excitement.
There were rumors of an exit from Iraq in March. McGeogh could see the homecoming play out grandly in her mind's eye.
"It's gonna be such an exciting day when I land in the States. It's gonna be a day I will always remember," she wrote to her family.
"And when I get back to Michigan, that's going to be amazing!! I'm gonna be so busy cuz u guys are going to be draggin' me around like,
'Look, she's back!!!' Well, please give me a couple days when I first get home so I can absorb it all."
She ticked off the perks that awaited: her brother Robert's promise that she could use his old Saturn, the strange feeling of driving something
other than a Humvee, the delicious feel of her "big bed" back home in Taylor, Mich. "I really miss u all soooooo much. To be honest,
if it wasn't for u guys, I would have never been able to make it through all this."
Her boyfriend, Spc. Sergio Cardenas, another soldier deployed at the same base in Tikrit, and their struggle to catch a few moments alone
in the battle zone, were other key topics of her letters home. She was looking forward to the simple joy of a date with him at Taco Bell.
"I'm sure u know what I mean, rite?"
The Internet was her lifeline to home, and she talked about how her platoon leader, Sgt. Eliu Miersandoval "My daddy," she called him
would cut her some time after guard duty to send e-mails.
In a letter e-mailed Jan. 5, McGeogh talked about a convoy mission. Troops spotted something that looked like it might be a roadside bomb,
"so I stopped right away and backed up. The other two vehicles had already gone by it. We got out and pulled security.
Then we called Charlie Company out to take a look." It turned out to be nothing.
"I had felt a little embarrassed. But at least at the same time I knew that we had done the right thing," she wrote.
The little story had a moral to it. McGeogh wanted her family to understand that the soldiers look out for each other in Iraq.
"I felt that I wanted you to know."
But the recurring theme throughout her letters was the trip home. By Jan. 28, she knew she would fly out in eight weeks.
"The days have been going by sorta fast," she wrote, "knock on wood, I don't want them to start going by slow."
During a convoy mission in Kirkuk two days later, no one saw the roadside bomb that went off near McGeogh's Humvee.
Two soldiers with her, one of them Miersandoval, were killed. And she became the first female service member from Michigan to die in Iraq.
Mother remembers her
Willy killed in Iraq
By Hugo Kugiya
Willy was what Paula Zasadny called her baby girl, Holly. It was the random result of a silly rhyming game she played with her daughter.
Holly, wolly, bolly eventually became Willy and for some reason the name stuck.
To the day Spc. Holly J. McGeogh died on Jan. 31, at age 19, victim of a roadside bomb near Kirkuk she was Willy, if only to her mother.
That is how she signed the Christmas card last year Love Willy. It arrived about two weeks after she died, in a box with other items.
It was devastating, said Zasadny, who lives in Taylor, Mich., but at same time it was comforting because I knew she had touched everything in the box.
Willy was her youngest child and only daughter. She was a fearless kid who always wanted to ride the newest, biggest, fastest roller coaster at Cedar Point,
and did not flinch when she tried bungee jumping. She was 5-foot-1 and the company commander in Junior ROTC.
In Iraq, she was a meticulous truck mechanic and drove a troop transport truck with a grenade launcher mounted on the back. She eagerly volunteered
for every mission and patrol and was disappointed when she was not picked. She once apprehended a fleeing man in a dark alley,
threatening to shoot him dead if he didnt stop, then throwing him against a wall.
But she also taught Iraqi kids the game duck-duck-goose, and gave them licorice. She could never get her mom to mail enough candy.
Or hot sauce from Taco Bell. Willy put it on everything. Unable to convince her local Taco Bell to sell her a box of hot sauce,
Zasadny ate there everyday, collecting enough packets to mail to Iraq.
When Willy helped bring running water to a village, she splashed and played in the spray.
Like the kid she was, not that long ago.
carry the flag draped casket of Pfc. Holly J. McGeogh,
after a funeral at the St. Joseph Catholic Church in Wyandotte, Mich., Monday, Feb. 9, 2004.
(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio) http://www.ap.org/index.html
Birth: Aug. 29, 1984
Death: Jan. 31, 2004
Our Lady of Hope Cemetery
Grave marker for Holly J. McGeogh
Photo by Zelda from the Find A Grave website
Michigan's Own Military & Space Museum has Holly's uniforms and mementos on display:
The museum is in Frankenmuth, Michigan. For information visit their website at the following link:
Michigan's Own Military & Space Museum
A video showing Holly's display in the museum can be viewed on You Tube.
Frame from the You Tube video of
Note the 1-22 Infantry program for the memorial service for Holly in Tikrit, center, front.
To view the You Tube video click on the following link:
Michigan's First Female Casualty in Iraq
Since 2004, the Taylor Fraternal
Order of Police Lodge #123 has sponsored a college scholarship
for students from Truman
and Kennedy high schools. To date, the F.O.P. has sponsored $10,000 in scholarships for Taylor students.
The award was named The
Holly McGeogh Memorial Scholarship in honor of Army
Specialist Holly McGeogh,
a 2002 Truman High School graduate, who was killed in a bomb blast in the war in Iraq in January 2004.
The Taylor F.O.P. accepts donations from any individuals or businesses that are interested in contributing to the fund.
To contribute or for more information click on the following link:
The Holly McGeogh Memorial Scholarship
For an excellent and moving memorial page to Holly, click on the following link:
Remembering SPC Holly J. McGeogh
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