June 26, 2013

Decorated Maine soldier killed in Afghanistan

Corey E. Garver, who grew up in Topsham, was killed by an improvised explosive Sunday while on patrol.

By Edward D. Murphy emurphy@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

TOPSHAM — A U.S. Army sergeant who grew up in Topsham and attended Mt. Ararat High School was killed Sunday by enemy forces while serving in Afghanistan.

click image to enlarge

Corey Garver

Courtesy of Fort Campbell Public Affairs Office

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U.S. Army Sgt. Corey Garver, with Baker Company, 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, provides security as Afghan and American soldiers clear a village in Paktia province, Afghanistan, May 29, 2013. Garver was killed Sunday in Afghanistan. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Robert Porter/Released)

U.S. Department of Defense

The U.S. Department of Defense confirmed Tuesday that 26-year-old Corey E. Garver was killed in the Paktia Province of Afghanistan.

A highly decorated veteran who joined the Army in June 2007, Garver was killed when an improvised explosive device detonated near his patrol.

Garver was assigned to Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry and the 4th Brigade Combat Team. His unit is stationed at Fort Campell, Ky., which is home to the 101st Airborne Division.

Garver grew up in the Old Farm Road neighborhood of Topsham and attended Mt. Ararat High School from 2004 to 2006, according to high school Principal Craig King. King said Garver was a popular student who possessed "a very outgoing personality."

"We are saddened to hear that this young man has passed away. Like many young people who have attended Mt. Ararat High School, Corey chose to serve his country, placing the defense of our nation above his personal safety," King said in a press release.

King said that while he remembers Garver, he is not listed on the high school's 2006 graduation list. He may have earned his high school diploma by attending courses at Merrymeeting Adult Education, King said.

His parents no longer live in Maine.

Master Sgt. Pete Mayes, a spokesman for Fort Campbell, identified Garver's parents as Zachary D. Garver and Ellen H. Garver.

The Pentagon said Garver's father and stepmother now live in Albuquerque, N.M., and his mother lives in Louisiana.

His parents could not be reached Tuesday night.

Mayes said Garver joined the Army in June 2007. Garver's unit was deployed to Afghanistan this spring.

Garver was killed in Paktia province, where earlier this month two NATO soldiers were killed in a suicide bombing. That attack also claimed the lives of 10 children and an Afghan police officer. Sixteen other people were injured.

Paktia province borders Pakistan.

The Department of Defense said on its website the United States has suffered 2,111 military casualties as of Tuesday since Operation Enduring Freedom began in 2001. More than 18,000 soldiers have been wounded in action.

Peter Rogers, a spokesman for Maine's Army National Guard, was unable to provide statistics for the number of Maine soldiers who have been killed in the war in Afghanistan.

Rogers said the 251st Engineering Company, based in Norway, was to have been deployed to Afghanistan earlier this year but was recalled. The 102-member company's mission would have been extremely dangerous -- clearing roads of IEDs.

Rogers said the 133rd Engineering Battalion, headquartered in Gardiner, is scheduled to be deployed to Afghanistan this fall.

During his relatively brief career in the Army, Garver earned several awards for valor and distinguished service, including two Army commendation medals, the Army Achievement medal, two Army Good Conduct medals, the National Defense Service Medal, two Afghanistan Campaign medals, and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.

King, the Mt. Ararat High School principal, said he remembers when Garver chose the military as his career.

"I remember the day Corey met with his military recruiter in the guidance office," King said. "He was happy that he had found a calling to pursue. Corey told me he was excited about his decision to enlist and it was evident to me that he was proud of the commitment he was making."

Nate Gerrish, who lives in Topsham, is a 2005 graduate of Mt. Ararat High School and was friends on Facebook with Garver.

Gerrish said he remembers Garver liked to play hockey and seemed to blend in well with other students at the high school.

"He was an average guy, who stayed out of trouble," said Gerrish, who added he was saddened to learn that his classmate had been killed overseas. "It was sad, and it was eye-opening."

Maine's congressional delegation expressed its condolences as well.

"Sgt. Garver died defending his country and we owe him and his family a debt of gratitude for their sacrifice," Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree of the 1st District said in a statement. "I know words can't ease the pain that his family is feeling, but I hope they know that the thoughts and prayers of the people of Maine go out to them during this most difficult time."

"We are deeply saddened to hear of Sgt. Garver's passing. He was a true American hero who valiantly dedicated himself to the defense of our country," U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King said in a joint statement. "His actions on the battlefield demonstrated the highest caliber of leadership and courage and we owe him our enduring gratitude. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family in this most difficult time."

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

dhoey@pressherald.com

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