Local News

82nd mourns latest loss

Posted October 14, 2011 8:58 p.m. EDT
Updated October 15, 2011 10:43 p.m. EDT

— Members of the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade out of Fort Bragg mourned the first loss of their current deployment Saturday as word spread of the death of Staff Sgt. Robert Cowdrey.

Cowdrey, 39, a flight medic from Atwater, Ohio, worked with Company C, 3rd Battalion. He was one of the original members of the Medivac company and was on his fourth deployment.

He was working a rescue mission with his crew in the Kunar province Thursday when they came under fire. He was injured and later died. 

"It's a shock to everyone. You don't want to believe that it's happening to one of yours," fellow medic Capt. Brian Downs said.

Cowdrey was the recipient of a Bronze Star Medal for bravery, three Air Medals and two Army Commendations Medals for valor, among other awards.

"He was one of those irreplaceable soldiers," Downs said. "He was just a great soldier. (He) always did anything you asked him to do, always (was) a great mentor to junior soldiers and also a great friend."

In a statement, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade Maj. Graham Bundy said Cowdrey had chances to go other places but was dedicated to his unit.

The soldiers of the 82nd CAB will remember Cowdrey Monday with a memorial service in Jalalabad. His body is already on the way back to the United States. He leaves behind a wife and three sons living in Sanford.

In Afghanistan, his fellow medics will pull together to grieve and continue to do their job.

"We're a strong team," Downs said. "We're coming together. resources are available to us to grieve and so we're hanging in there."

"His death leaves a hole in our hearts that can never be filled," Cowdrey's family said in a statement. "There are no words adequate enough to express how much Brian was loved, how much he will be missed, and how the lives he touched - and saved - will be forever changed because he was on this earth."

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