For all war heroes
Especially those born on the 4th of July
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ A 21-year-old Connecticut Army National Guardsman from Ashford was killed Saturday while serving in Iraq, Maj. Gen. William A. Cugno announced Monday.
Spc. Robert Hoyt, a member of the C Company, 102nd Infantry Battalion from Bristol, was killed when his armored vehicle struck a bomb in Baghdad. The Connecticut unit was mobilized last year to help fill the ranks of Arkansas's 39th Infantry Brigade.
Amy Schlesing, a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette embedded with the 39th, reported that Hoyt was mortally injured when a truck rolled over him as he lay in the road after the Saturday blast.
The bomb, planted in the road south of Camp Taji, detonated beneath Hoyt's humvee. The blast blew an armored door off and threw him to the road. Hoyt's platoon was escorting tractor-trailer trucks loaded with confiscated Iraqi ammunition from Camp Taji to another base for destruction.
The truck driver following Hoyt's humvee was hit by shrapnel from the blast. In the post-explosion confusion, the truck rolled over Hoyt as he lay in the road.
"He was talking when we put him on the helicopter," said Capt. Derald Neugebauer, Hoyt's troop commander.
The second oldest of four children, Hoyt graduated from E.O Smith High School in Storrs and has family in the Ashford area. His younger sister attends E.O. Smith, school officials said.
"We don't believe it's really happened, but we know it's happened," his aunt, Terry Hoyt, told WTNH-TV. "The finality of it will be when he's put to rest."
Hoyt was not married and had no children, said Lt. Col. John Whitford, a spokesman for the Connecticut National Guard.
Sgt. 1st Class Brian O'Toole of Plymouth, the original platoon sergeant for the Connecticut group, called Hoyt a perfect soldier.
"If there is anything positive that comes out of Hoyt's death," he said, "it's that it brings the reality of Iraq home to Connecticut, reminding people of the sacrifice and reality of war. As for the guys, they're going to be all right," he said. "I think it'll hit harder when we get back to the states. It will hit us when we sit back and think, What the hell happened?"
"Specialist Hoyt was a valiant soldier who fought to protect and defend every one of us," Gov. M. Jodi Rell said. "We are all indebted to him for his service."
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