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Soldier, family man remembered as ‘the complete package’

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Sergeant 1st Class Patrick Huntley was viewed as the "go to guy" for advice by many of his Soldiers. But his willing ear and wise counsel are gone. An accident took his life Nov. 7.

His Soldiers were joined by others from the Joint Base Lewis-McChord community for a memorial at JBLM Lewis North Chapel Dec. 2.

Huntley, 31, died Nov. 7 from injuries he suffered when a Stryker vehicle rolled over during a training exercise at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, Calif. The infantryman was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment of the 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.

Huntley's company commander, Capt. Mason Ward, described him as a genuine leader who commanded respect from all he encountered. During the memorial, he shared a story about the Soldier's appearance in an electronic application Ward downloaded for the iPad he purchased just a few weeks before Huntley's death. In the video, titled, "Army Values," Huntley speaks about a particular mission during his deployment to Iraq in 2005. On that day, Huntley was supporting the first free Iraqi election when his platoon leader was shot and killed by an enemy sniper.

"He discussed the anger and difficulty associated with handling the loss as he was a respected man and leader," Ward said.

Within 36 hours of Huntley's platoon leader's death, the same platoon received intelligence on the location of the enemy sniper with the mission to kill or capture him.

"It was a difficult mission to accept, knowing the emotions tied to their recent loss," Ward said. "The bulk of the discussion on integrity lies in the thoughts of anger, remorse and passion for the platoon leader being killed and facing that insurgent again."

Huntley, showing extreme maturity, discussed the team's commitment to doing the right thing and treating the enemy in accordance with the laws of warfare despite the strong emotions they felt. The suspect was captured, and six months later he was found guilty in an Iraqi court. Ward said that Huntley's comments about the platoon's handling of the detainee spoke volumes about the Soldier's integrity and commitment to his country.

"(Huntley) said, ‘I have a duty to my country, my Family and the memory of my platoon leader to do the right thing at all times,'" Ward quoted. "Sergeant First Class Huntley lived his life with integrity and set the example for all of us to follow, and obviously the Army recognized this well before many of us had the pleasure to know him."

Staff Sergeant Lukas Graves, described him as a leader who wanted to spend as much time as possible with his Soldiers and who never hesitated to praise them for their hard work. Graves recounted a recent difficult after-action review during NTC that left several of the Soldiers feeling down.

Huntley went out of his way and brought the platoon together to tell him how proud of them he was.

"This was not an uncommon event with (Sgt. 1st Class) Huntley," Graves said. "He truly believed that his Soldiers were not told this enough."

Graves also remembered Huntley as a man with an irrational fondness for banana taffy. The former drill sergeant kept a large bowl of it on his desk and was known to share with anyone who came in his office.

"I don't know how or where he got that banana Laffy taffy, but I was always offered one ... And when I didn't want one, he would throw it at me," Graves chuckled through tears.

"He was a man intently serious about life, but also very serious with a smile," said Chaplain (Capt.) Jeremy Rhoades.

The chaplain acknowledged it was difficult to make sense of Huntley's death, but assured friends and Family that healing will come with time. He encouraged them to keep taking every opportunity to commemorate his life by sharing stories.

"May we not forsake his name, may we share in his stories and may we celebrate his life," Rhoades said.


Sergeant 1st Class Patrick Huntley was born in Portland, Ore., March 15, 1980. He enlisted in the Army in 1998 and attended Infantry One Station Unit Training at Fort Benning, Ga. He served as an infantryman in 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, and 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division at Fort Lewis. He served with the 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment in Germany, and most recently as a drill sergeant at Fort Benning, Ga., before arriving in August at JBLM for his current assignment with 2-1 Inf., 2nd Bde., 2nd Inf. Div.

Huntley deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom twice, from October 2004 to October 2005 and September 2007 to November 2008.

He is survived by his wife, Crystal, and children, Savannah, Sterling and Sophia. His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal (three awards), Army Achievement Medal (three awards), Valorous Unit Award, Army Good Conduct Medal (four awards), National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge, Expert Infantryman Badge, Parachutist Badge and Air Assault Badge.

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