Family, Friends Remember Two Oklahoma Soldiers Killed In Afghanistan


Wednesday, November 2nd 2011, 11:14 am
By: News On 6


NewsOn6.com

TULSA, OKLAHOMA -- The Department of Defense has confirmed that two more Oklahoma soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan.

One soldier is identified as Specialist Chris Gailey, 26, from Ochelata, the other as Private First Class Sarina Butcher, 19, of Checotah. They were assigned to the 700th Brigade Support Battalion, 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team based in Tulsa.

They died November 1, 2011, when their vehicle was hit by an IED in the Paktia province.  
The Guard says the improvised explosive device detonated near their military vehicle while their unit was on a resupply mission.

Two soldiers were also wounded during the incident but are expected to recover from their injuries. 

"The Oklahoma National Guard family is deeply saddened by the loss of these two outstanding Citizen-Soldiers," said Major General Myles L. Deering, the adjutant general for Oklahoma.

Gailey was the 13th Oklahoma National Guard soldier to die in Afghanistan in just the last three months. Those who knew him want him to be remembered as much more than that number.

"Very outgoing kid, great family, great family. He literally did always have a smile on his face," said Debra Keil, Caney Valley High School Principal.

Specialist Gailey spent his junior and senior years at Caney Valley High School in Ramona -- where educators heard the news Tuesday night.

"We are a small community. This is really going to hit us hard. Our heart, and as a school family, we are just really thinking about Chris's family," Keil said.

Gailey enlisted in the National Guard the summer before he graduated from high school in 2005. He deployed to Iraq in 2007 and was a motor vehicle operator.

During his seven-year career in the military he received several military awards and decorations including the National Defense Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Armed Forces Reserve Medal with "M" Device, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal and the Oklahoma Long Service Ribbon (5 years).

Family friend tell News On 6 Gailey's parents are flying to Maryland to meet his body when it's brought back to the U.S.

Butcher is the first female Oklahoma National Guard soldier to be killed during wartime. She is also the youngest Oklahoma citizen-soldier to die in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.
 
Outgoing, wonderful and sweet. These are words loved ones use to describe Sarina Butcher.

"She always said she didn't want to be forgotten. It wasn't forgotten, it was forgot ten. Her little accent," said Jami Butcher, former sister-in-law.

"She had a very, very strong accent. I just loved it. Grew on you real hard," said Tim Butcher, former father-in-law.

The young lady with the charming southern accent came into the Butchers' lives when she married their son Timmy.

"Their first date was her pushing him around the mall in a wheelchair," said Jeramie Butcher, former mother-in-law.

They have a daughter together, two-year-old Zoey, who the family says looks a lot like her Mother.

Women were first allowed to join the Oklahoma National Guard in 1971.

Pfc. Butcher joined the Guard in April 2010 and was an automated logistical specialist. She attended Checotah High School and will be promoted posthumously to the rank of specialist.

During her 18 months in the Guard, Pfc. Butcher was awarded the National Defense Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon and the Oklahoma Good Conduct Medal.

Gailey and Butcher are the 13th and 14th Oklahoma National Guard soldiers to die in Afghanistan since July 29th, 2011. 

In all, 19 Oklahoma Army National Guard soldiers have died in Iraq and Afghanistan since 9/11.