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

Patrick L Lybert

Ladysmith, Wisconsin

June 21, 2006

Age Military Rank Unit/Location
28 Army SSG

3rd Squadron, 71st Calvary, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry)

Fort Drum, New York

 Killed in Gowardesh, Afghanistan, when they encountered enemy forces using small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades during combat operations.

July 2, 2006

Hello, I am SSG Patrick L. Lybert's Mom, Cheryl L. Nussberger, Ladysmith. My cherished son gave his life for America 6/21/2006 serving with the 10th Mountain Division, in Afghanistan. I write the words, read the papers, and plan his memorial services but still have not absorbed this. . Patrick was committed to his service. Our grief is endless and always will be. Patrick loved the outdoors: camp, fish, hunt, canoe, boat. He was an Eagle Scout, an excellent high school athlete (wrestling, baseball, cross country, football ). He was the center of our family: my middle child. So loved by his Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles and Cousins that whenever he was home our world stopped and we entered a world of Patrick. His three cousins that live the closest, now age 14,12, 9 were inseparable from him . If Patrick was home, those kids moved in with him. Other cousins would drive up to spend quality time, inner tubing the Flambeau River, bonfires and marshmallows, ATV rides, teaching the 14 year old to drive truck around the field last summer when she was only 13. He had the ability to cause harmless mischief and then sit back and smile when he had us all in a tizzy. His cousins had a special bond with my son that I have never ever seen in cousin relationships with such an age span. His youngest brother has Autism Spectrum Disorder and multiple challenges. Patrick was committed to and insistent upon caring for him when the time came and I and his father could no longer provide care. This is an additional cut into our heart as this promise to care for his brother always let me sleep a bit easier at night. When ever I would be emotional or tear up over the danger he was in he would always tell me to "suck it up , remember I am doing what I have always wanted to do". ( always said with love and care as he placed his arm around me, or his hand in mine). His older brother resides in Nevada. He too is shattered yet we are all trying to do as he wished . I don't think our tears will ever stop. Bless each one of you who strive to keep our son's memory alive. Go forth with him in your hearts. Whenever you have a joy in life, camp, fish or hunt, think of SSG Patrick L. Lybert and then amplify that joy because he truly believed he was safeguarding that. Sincerely, Mom


On April 2nd, 2008 at the Ladysmith, WI VMA, SSG Patrick Lee Lybert’s home town of Ladysmith, WI, Veterans, Military Friends, Friends and Loved ones gathered together as U.S. Army Major General John Pollmann presented a Silver Star for the posthumously to SSG Patrick Lee Lybert.

SSG Lybert was killed in action on June 21, 2006, at age 28 serving with C-Co., 3-71 Cavalry, 10th Mountain Division (Recon) near Gowardesh, Afghanistan. Written statements of Soldiers with SSG Lybert during action relate SSG Lybert was returning fire with his weapon at his shoulder when he received his fatal wound.

Representatives of the 10th Mountain Division of Fort Drum, New York were not able to be in Ladysmith, WI. Representing the U.S. Army Major General Pollmann, who heads the 88th Regional Readiness Command based at Ft. Snelling, handed the Silver Star to Patrick’s grandfather, CPL Robert Patrick of Ladysmith, who in then presented it to his daughter and mother of Patrick, Cheryl Lee Patrick.

Patrick had requested his Grandfather Robert Patrick present the Blue Infantry Cord when “Turning Blue” at his graduation from basic training , Fort Benning on Nov. 15, 2002, 50 years after he (Robert) had served there.

Near the podium for the presentation were his mother Cheryl Lee Patrick, maternal grandparents Robert and Helen Patrick of Ladysmith; his paternal grandparents, Frances and George Kettering of Glen Flora; and his brothers, Stacy Lybert of Nevada and Noah Nussberger of Ladysmith. Patrick’s father David Lybert was unable attend the ceremony, and a Silver Star was presented to him in Montana where he resides.

Also gathered at the Veterans Memorial Association Hall were many of Patrick’s cousins, aunts, uncles, friends, fellow, Veterans, Active Military, Boy Scouts and former Brothers in Arms.

All present heard “Patrick’s actions on that day in June were those of honor, loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, integrity and personal courage . . . values that we as soldiers strive to live out everyday,” said General Pollmann. “His were the actions of a hero exemplifying all that America has stood for and held dear since the birth of our nation.”

“The Silver Star is reserved only for an elite few who epitomize these values no matter what the cost. First approved on July 19, 1932, the Silver Star is awarded for gal-pantry in action against an enemy of the United States, and of the 120,000 soldiers that have served in Afghanistan to date; only 101 have received the Silver Star.” Explained Major General Pollmann who continued on to say: 

“For SSG Patrick Lybert and for many others like him who have earned this prestigious award, we are unable to present it directly to them for their gallantry in action because they made the ultimate sacrifice . . . a sacrifice so great that it renders this medal as only a small token, but most importantly it rep-resents a tremendous symbol of honor bestowed upon Patrick from a forever grateful nation.”

SSG Lybert, an Eagle Scout, joined the army in 2002 then deployed to Iraq in September of 2003. Upon his return to Fort Drum, NY he volunteered for a new unit, forming the 3-71 Cavalry (Recon), and then deployed to Afghanistan on Feb. 12, 2006.

Command Sergeant Major John Vacho of Ladysmith (who has served with General Pollmann the past three years in the Headquarters of the 88th Regional Readiness Command and is also the Father of Fallen Soldier SSG Nathan J. Vacho KIA 05 May 2006, Iraq) explained to those there actions of SSG Patrick Lybert on 21 June 2006 when killed in action in eastern Afghanistan near the Pakistan border. CSM Vacho explained (as taken from the Incident Report) that K Team (a forward observer element) and members of C Company, 3-71 Cavalry, executed a two-day climb to assigned watch/hide position on a ridge approximately 4-5 miles from the Pakistan border. K Team took up a position along hill 1610, actually more of a small ridge which ran north to south.

“They were to establish surveillance on the target area of a suspected enemy area/safe house operating in the vicinity,” said CMS Vacho. “The position also overlooked a trail with steep slopes in all directions. The cover on top of the ridge consisted of some boulders, some bushes and a few scrub trees.

“On the 21st of June at approximately 1415 hours (2:15 p.m.) K Team, just recently supplied by helicopter, set up in three small groups along the ridge top. SSG Lybert was in the southern most group of soldiers on that ridge.

“The soldiers had just finished packing away their supplies and started laying out their security plan by pushing further out up the trail when they came under a combined arms attack initiated by rocket propelled grenades, simultaneously accompanied by intense machine-gun and small arms fire. The direction of the attack came from a north to south direction running the full length of the 50 meter deep defensive perimeter set up by K Team.”

The attack was so violent that one K Team soldier was immediately wounded by shrapnel from a rocket propelled grenade and simultaneously shot by small arms fire.

“He said he knew if he stayed in his position he would die, and ran with the rest of the northern group of soldiers to where there was more cover (this was to the southern area of hill 1610).”

One soldier said he was unable to return fire immediately as there were “friendlies” in that direction and it was a narrow sector along that ridge, and he got on the radio to call for indirect fire support from artillery and mortars. He went on to say, “I observed Lybert returning fire over the wall to my left.”

Another soldier who didn’t have his rifle with him when the attack started said the gunfire was too heavy to reach for it, even though it was perhaps two feet from him on the ground.

Another soldier observed Lybert was at one end of the formation firing and a second soldier was at the other end trying to peek over and call on the radio.

One soldier remembers rounds impacting on the dirt all around him. He ran back to some rocks and took cover. “I was unable to grab my weapon due to the fact that rounds were impacting right next to it.” He went on to grab a wounded soldier and drag him to cover. “While looking for cover, I saw SGT Lybert who was returning fire. I watched as he engaged multiple targets. He was popping, popping up and over the rock wall and engaging the enemy and ducking back down again.”

Another soldier said, “I reached for my weapon and when my hand touched it, it got shot out of my hand. I jumped behind a small bush and small rock. To my left was SGT Lybert. I yelled to him, ‘I need a weapon.’ He yelled back, ‘Where’s yours?’ “It got shot out of my hand,’ I said. Then he (SGT Lybert) looked behind him and then forwards, shooting and shooting.”

The thrust of the enemy attack came on the left flank, which was the direction SGT Lybert was directing his fire, as documented in the incident report. 

CSM Vacho continued to describe the enemy launched its attack with violence and surprise. “But by stalling the attack or causing the enemy to take cover at a greater distance, you buy enough time to recover from the initial shock of the attack, gain momentum and are able to call in indirect fire to inflict casualties on the enemy and save the lives of your soldiers.”

“By SGT Lybert’s quick reactions in the opening minutes of the attack, he accomplished just that,” said CSM Vacho. “He engaged targets close enough and returned fire long enough that others could recover from the ferocity of the enemy’s attack, return fire, treat the wounded and call in indirect fire from 120 mm mortars, 105 mm Howitzers and air support from A-10 fighter aircraft, C-130 Specter Gunships and B-1 Bombers.”

Of the 17 soldiers there that day, two more would die on that hill with the additional death of a helicopter medic when the hoist on the helicopter malfunctioned. This bought the total number of Fallen during that battle to four.

Also speaking at the ceremony were political leaders or their representatives: Karen Graff, the northern representative for Senator Russ Feingold, read a letter from Sen. Feingold, Marjorie Bunce, the northern representative for Senator Herb Kohl, conveyed Senator Kohl’s message, Doug Hill, representative for Congressman Dave Obey, relayed the Congressman’s sentiments, 87th District Assembly representative Mary Williams present commented on the awarding of the Silver Star to SSG Patrick Lybert, Master of Ceremonies, Iraq War Veteran, Shane Sanderson read a letter from Senator Russ Decker who expressed his admiration and respect for Patrick’s heroism. Senator Russ Decker, unable to be present, recalled attending Patrick’s Eagle Scout ceremony.

Cody Lehman, of Boy Scout Troop 45 led The Pledge of Allegiance with fellow members of Boy Scout Troop 45 (the same Troop Patrick and his brother Stacy rose to the rank of his Eagle Scout).

Jessica Hamilton , one of Patrick’s cousins led the singing of the National Anthem. A Final closing prayer was offered by Doug Sorenson.

Daniel Linnihan, who was at Patrick’s side the day he was killed attended with his parents and brother. He described Patrick as “the greatest leader I have ever seen. He was a great guy and a good friend. He always put his men before himself.”

The certificate along with the Silver Star presented reads “The Silver Star awarded to SSG Patrick Lee Lybert, United States Army "For Gallantry: in action on 21 June 2006 while deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Staff Sergeant Lybert distinguished himself against an armed enemy, while serving as a Recon Team Leader with 3d Squadron, 71st Cavalry (Recon). His professionalism and ability to accomplish the mission set him apart from his peers. Staff Sergeant Lybert's actions are in keeping with the finest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, the 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry, Combined Task Force Spartan, Combined Joint Task Force-76, and the United States Army." Dated 20 February 2007

SSG Lybert’s awards include the Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal (1OLC), Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, Iraqi Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Combat Infantry Badge, Expert Infantry Badge, and Parachutist Badge. 
From  Milwaukee Journal Sentinel June 24, 2006:

Ladysmith loses second soldier in two months
Posted: June 23, 2006

For the second time in almost two months, a soldier from Ladysmith has been killed fighting terrorism.

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Patrick Lybert, 28, died Wednesday in Gowardesh, Afghanistan, when he and a fellow soldier in the 10th Mountain Division encountered enemy forces using small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades, the U.S. Department of Defense announced Friday.

Their mission was part of an intensified military operation mounted to stem the growing insurgency of Taliban guerrillas. More than 11,000 coalition troops have been deployed to eliminate the Taliban influence in the war-torn country.

Lybert graduated from Ladysmith High School in 1996, received an associate's degree in criminal justice from Western Wisconsin Technical College and planned to work in law enforcement, Ladysmith Police Chief Dean Meyer said.

"He wanted to help and protect people," said Meyer, who acted as a spokesman for Lybert's family. "He was deeply committed to his mission and the value of what our country was doing."

Lybert was the son of David Lybert of Missoula, Mont., and Sheryl Nussberger of Ladysmith. His stepfather, Terry Nussberger, is an attorney in Ladysmith, a Rusk County city of almost 3,800.

Lybert served one tour of duty in Iraq, and he re-enlisted for a five-year military stretch while in Afghanistan.

"I don't think there was any hesitation on his part, from the impression I was given from the family," Meyer said.

Lybert's unit, the 3rd Squadron, 71st Calvary, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, is based in Fort Drum, N.Y.

His death prompted flags to be lowered to half-staff in Ladysmith, which recently mourned the death of Nathan J. Vacho, a 29-year-old sergeant in the U.S. Army Reserve. He was killed May 5 when a bomb exploded near his Humvee in Baghdad, Iraq.

"It hurts a lot," Allen Phetteplace, the local VFW commander, said of the deaths. "It's hard to lose anybody, and when you know the families and you see them around, and all of a sudden they're gone, it's really rough."

Like Vacho, Lybert was a well-liked stalwart on a number of Ladysmith High School teams. He wrestled, ran cross country and played football and baseball, Meyer said.

Growing up in a North Woods community, Lybert enjoyed hunting and fishing.

He will be remembered as a role model for children in his family and the community. "He had a magnetizing personality," Meyer said. "He was the young man that all the kids were hanging on."
Funeral arrangements are pending.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.

From WQOW 18 TV June 23, 2006:

Soldier Remembered For Dedication To Service

Jun 23, 2006

Staff Sgt. Patrick Lybert had plans to become a law enforcement officer.
A western Wisconsin soldier loses his life serving his country, before he could serve his hometown. Staff Sgt. Patrick Lybert from Ladysmith was one of two soldiers killed in Afghanistan Wednesday. He was 28. Lybert had volunteered for a mission. During it, the soldiers were hit with small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades.

On Friday in Ladysmith law enforcement officers and a past teacher remembered Lybert. They say he played football and was on the wrestling team at Ladysmith High School. He graduated from college with a degree in criminal justice. After his military service, he wanted to work in law enforcement in Rusk County.

"He would have been a fantastic law enforcement officer," says Ladysmith Police Chief Dean Meyer. "He cared about other people. He made personal sacrifices for other people. This just shows his legacy is to help others."

"When you think of Patrick you think of a good student, a good athlete, a fine community member," says Joe Baye, one of Lybert's former teachers. "All of the good qualities among our young men and so his loss is a doubly loss for our community."

Lybert had already served a tour of duty in Iraq and then re-enlisted to serve in Afghanistan.

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