Operation Iraqi Freedom, Fallen Heroes, Iraq War 03/19/03

Paul C Mardis  Jr

Paul C Mardis  Jr

Palmetto, Florida

July 15, 2004

Age Military Rank Unit/Location
25 Army SSG

3rd Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group

Fort Campbell, Kentucky

Died July 15 in Washington, D.C., from injuries sustained on May 20 in Mosul, Iraq, when his vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device.
From Sherri Lawrence 08/09/04:

I am Paul's sister, Sherri Lawrence. I was his guardian after both his parents died when he was 14 years old. Paul was a young, highly decorated Special Forces officer who loved his country and his job. There are many articles about his life and death. I am sending just a couple. Thank you for helping us keep our soldiers memories alive.

Paul C Mardis  Jr

Posted on Sun, Aug. 08, 2004

Slain Green Beret honored

Paul Mardis graduated from Palmetto High

Herald Staff Writer

Of all the tributes to fallen Staff Sgt. Paul Mardis Jr., a video Saturday morning proved one of the most powerful.

An Army cadet, a Green Beret.

A young newlywed.

Mardis died July 15 at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C., of complications from injuries suffered while on duty in Iraq.

On May 20, the second day of his second tour, a roadside bomb exploded under his unarmored Humvee near Mosul. He took shrapnel to the right side of his head and neck. He was flown from Iraq to Germany, then to Walter Reed Hospital.

Memorial services have already been held at his home base in Fort Campbell, Ky., and at Coshocton, Ohio, where Mardis was born and where he is buried. On Saturday, a memorial service was held at Parrish United Methodist Church for 80 friends, family members and a few visitors to pay their respects.

The service began with the military honors provided by the American Legion Stewart Kirby Post. Frank B. Johnson, commander of the ceremony, lamented that "another veteran has been called to the high command.

"Because of you, our lives are free. Because of you, our country is blessed. Because of you, our world lives," Johnson said. Then, he turned to a picture of Mardis and saluted.

"We are here comrade, we are here."

The service was presided over by Pastor Renee Lawrence. She and her husband, John, were like grandparents to Mardis. Mardis' parents died while Mardis was young, and he was raised by his sister, Sherri Lawrence.

"I don't know how many memorial or funeral services I have done," Renee Lawrence said. "But none has been harder."

She recalled the last time she saw Mardis in Walter Reed Hospital. There, Mardis suffered from complications such as pancreatitis, paralysis and pneumonia.

She said the grief accompanying Mardis' death will have to run its course. He will never have children. He never got to graduate from college.

But he - like the three other Manatee County military men who have died in Iraq - died doing what he loved.

"Paul loved what he did. He chose what he did. He lived it, he excelled at it," Renee Lawrence said.

Mardis' wife of two years, Casey, was unable to attend the third memorial service but sent along a message read by Sherri Lawrence.

"Remember he would want us to celebrate his life, and life after, for he is in a better place and all of us have the biggest guardian angel watching over us," she said.

Steve Bunce, Mardis' best friend, briefly took the podium to speak about his friend. The two joined the military together in 1998, and Bunce watched his friend join the elite Green Berets.

Bunce said Mardis was more of a brother than a friend.

"I love him with all my heart," he said, choking back his grief. "Every time you pass a flag, say 'Thank you.' "

Bunce, unable to say any more, briefly walked out of the sanctuary.

John Lawrence, who acted as Mardis' grandfather, also had trouble putting his grief into words.

"A lot of people have heroes in life," he said. But instead of superheroes, he said, "mine have always been real-life heroes."

He choked up before he could finish. The sanctuary grew quiet and a few wept as they knew what he would say next.

Lawrence struggled through the next five words.

"And Paul Mardis is one," he said.

Mardis, as he lay in Walter Reed Hospital, resisted such talk, Lawrence said. He said a nurse told Mardis that he and his fellow Green Berets were heroes. Mardis brushed it off and said he was just doing his job.

"Don't you believe that," Lawrence said. "He was a hero.


Fort Campbell mourns loss of Green Beret

By Spc. Joshua Risner
Fort Campbell Courier

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. (USASOC News Service, July 22, 2004) — Fort Campbell Soldiers and families gathered at Memorial Chapel here July 20 to say goodbye to one of their own.

Staff Sgt. Paul Mardis, a 25-year-old Special Forces engineer sergeant assigned to Company B, 3rd Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) here, died July 15 at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, D.C., from injuries sustained in Mosul, Iraq, May 20.

Mardis was wounded by an improvised explosive device.

A native of Palmetto, Fla., Mardis joined the Army in 1998 as an indirect fire infantryman. He was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division before becoming a Special Forces Soldier in 2001.

“(Mardis) exemplified everything good about the next generation of Soldiers,” said Capt. Mark Howell on behalf of Maj. Roy McClellan, commander, Co. B, 3rd Bn., 5th SFG. “Those of us who knew him will be able to tell our children that we fought alongside a true American hero.”

Mardis was remembered by those close to him as an intrepid workhorse with a knack for organization and neatness, said Sgt. 1st Class Donald Kabrich, 5th SFG.

“Paul took on every task with enthusiasm,” he said. “He always had an opinion and he always had a way to make things better. We have said that when Paul makes it to the pearly gates, he’ll have relieved St. Peter of his duties and found a better way to process the people at the gates.”

His awards include the Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Special Forces Tab, Expert Infantryman Badge, Parachutist Badge and Air Assault Badge.

“The loss of Paul Mardis has touched us all very deeply,” Howell said. “He will be remembered as a Special Forces warrior of the highest caliber.” 

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