|From The Spokesman Review spokesmanreview.com
Spokane soldier killed in Mosul attack
Tom Sowa Staff writer
May 5, 2008
Less than a week before he died, U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Chad Caldwell posted a photo on his Facebook page.
It showed him holding his two young children, with the words: "This is the reason I do what I do."
The decorated soldier, serving his third combat tour, had told family and friends he probably would make the military his career.
On Wednesday, the 24-year-old graduate of Cheney High School suffered fatal injuries when a roadside bomb exploded while he was on patrol in Mosul, Iraq. Several other soldiers were injured, according an Army news release.
For those closest to him, Caldwell's decision in February to re-enlist in the Army didn't surprise them.
"He told me that he felt he was good at his job, that he was well-trained, and it was the best way he knew to safeguard his family's future," his mother, Carol Caldwell said Saturday.
Caldwell's body is being returned to Spokane. A military funeral will take place sometime in the coming week, said his wife, Raechel, 25.
"He told me he wanted to move back to the Northwest eventually," she said by phone from Maumelle, Ark. His wife and two sons, Trevor, 4, and Coen, 2, moved to Arkansas last year to be near her family after Caldwell was reassigned from Fort Polk, La., to Fort Hood in Texas.
Raechel Caldwell said she plans to move her children back to Washington state.
After graduating from Cheney High School in 2001, Caldwell joined the Army in 2002. He served one tour in Iraq, then a second combat tour in Afghanistan. In February 2007 he signed up for a third tour, this time back to Iraq.
His squadron, part of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, was assigned to reconnaissance duty in an area north of Baghdad known as an al-Qaida stronghold.
In two weeks, Caldwell was due to return to Spokane to enjoy a mid-tour visit with his family and friends, his mother said. His younger brother, Justin, and younger sister, Krista, both live in Spokane. His father, Mark Caldwell, lives in Hayden Lake.
One of his passions was skateboarding. His mother said he'd told her in recent weeks he was looking forward to teaching his sons to skateboard.
Carol Caldwell said she never pressed her son to leave the Army. "When he asked my opinion on that, I told him, ¡¥Whatever choice you make, I will back you 100 percent.'ƒ|"
At times he discussed starting a business repairing vehicles, or joining law enforcement," his mother added.
"But then he also told me he was going to stay in the Army and make it a career," she said.
Raechel and Chad Caldwell met in high school. Both took part-time jobs with a Spokane telemarketing firm, and that's when their friendship began, she said. "I was too timid to make calls, so he would make calls for me," she said. They were married in 2002, just before he was sent to basic training.
While deployed overseas, Caldwell made frequent phone calls and used instant messaging to stay close to his family. The night Trevor was born in Deaconess Medical Center, in January 2004, Caldwell called his wife from Baghdad and heard his son's first loud cry over a cell phone.
In a story on the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, a military newspaper talked with Caldwell about his two tours in that country. In that March article in Stars and Stripes, Caldwell said his impressions, in 2004, after combat assignments in Baghdad, Kut and Najaf, was that the U.S. Army would remove most of its troops by 2007.
But by 2008 he had changed his mind. The article quoted him saying, "My kids will probably serve over here."
During his tours, Caldwell earned two Army Commendation Medals, for saving the life of a pregnant woman found under a pile of bodies after the U.N. headquarters in Bagdhad was bombed in 2003, and for saving the life of his lieutenant colonel, caught in gunfire.
|From The Spokesman Review spokesmanreview.com
Soldier hears his baby boy's first cries half a world away
The following story was originally published Jan. 1, 2004 in The Spokesman-Review
Kristen Kromer Staff writer
January 1, 2004
Trevor Caldwell probably will double in size by the time his dad holds him for the first time.
Called to duty in Iraq on April 25, Chad Caldwell, an E4 specialist with the U.S. Army 2nd Cavalry, was gone for his wife's entire pregnancy.
But phone calls and instant messages helped the couple endure and allowed them to hear their son's first cries together after he was born Tuesday at 10:42 p.m. at Deaconess Medical Center.
Just weeks after her husband left for Iraq, Raechel Caldwell learned she was pregnant with their first child. The couple, now living in Ft. Polk, La., met when they were students at Cheney High School.
They married about a year and a half ago.
Not wanting to go through her pregnancy alone, Caldwell, 21, came to stay with her mom, Michelle Stell, who lives in Cheney.
Raechel Caldwell said it was tough not having her husband around.
“I didn't enjoy it as much as if he was here,” she said. “It's hard, but it's his job.”
Based in Baghdad, Caldwell, 20, drives officers around in a Humvee. He recently earned two Army Commendation Medals - for saving the life of a pregnant woman found under a pile of bodies after the U.N. headquarters was bombed in September, and for saving the life of his lieutenant colonel, caught in gunfire.
He is due to return from Iraq between April 22 and April 28.
For most of the past nine months, Raechel Caldwell was allowed one three-minute phone call with her husband each week. Recently, the time was bumped up to five minutes.
Since October, Chad Caldwell also has had access to a computer with instant messaging.
“It's hard to say all you want to in three minutes. You always forget things,” Raechel Caldwell said. “But he always talked to Trevor - we put the phone up to my stomach.”
On Tuesday, after five hours of hard pushing, Raechel Caldwell gave birth by C-section to Trevor Austin.
Chad Caldwell's cousin sent him a text message telling him to call Deaconess immediately.
The once-a-week call allotment is relaxed when there has been a confirmed birth, Raechel Caldwell said.
Chad called at 11:30 p.m. Raechel, who had just awakened from the anesthesia, had her husband on the phone when she saw their baby for the first time.
A nurse got Trevor to cry so Chad could hear his voice.
Then Chad started crying, then Raechel did - and then everyone was crying.
Though Raechel Caldwell was still hazy on the details of the night, her mother remembered well.
“You just kept saying how beautiful he was, how he's just like his dad, and how you didn't want to ever let him go,” Stell said.
“All I remember (Chad) saying is that he's proud of me,” Raechel Caldwell said.
The Caldwells will leave Deaconess on Friday or Saturday.
A Web cam at Stell's house means Chad Caldwell will soon be able to see his son - all 8 pounds, 6 ounces of him.