BAKERSFIELD, CA, USA U.S. Army SGT, HOWITZER BATTERY, 3D SQUADRON, 3 ACR, FORT HOOD, TX MOSUL, IRAQ 12/26/2007
From Ben’s Mom:
“Ben was full of laughter and always took the serious stuff and made it funny. He gave his life for the soldiers that were in his unit.
You see Ben laid his own life down for the wounded soldiers around him. That was Ben always putting others first. When the fire fight went down in a small outpost in Mosul Iraq, Ben put all of his soldiers in place and told them to stay there and not move. You see it was their first tour of duty and he was trying to be the big brother. When the Captain went down and the other soldier behind him went down, Ben started firing.
He got off a few rounds. Then he was shot from behind by an Iraq soldier that he had trained to protect him. If Ben hadn’t done that all the injured that survived wouldn’t be alive today.
Ben’s older brother was in Iraq when he heard the news. I had to tell him on the internet that his brother was killed. They got him out of Iraq fast but all Michael could say was “I want them to take me to the place that my brother died, I want to touch the ground where he died”.
Of course they couldn’t and wouldn’t allow him to do that. My oldest Son, Mike still has the hardest time with his brother gone.”
Friends and family laughed as they remembered the time Benjamin B. Portell’s grandpa tried to initiate him and his brother Mike on a backpacking trip by telling them they had to eat the fish heads off the fish they had caught for dinner. Ben then spoke his famous line, I don’t think so grandpa.
Portell, 27, of Bakersfield, Calif., was killed by small-arms fire in Mosul on Dec. 26. He was assigned to Fort Hood and was on his second tour. Portell will be remembered for being a brave man among his group of friends from high school. He wasn’t the toughest guy in the group, but he was the most courageous, said Seth Colebrook, a pal. Portell spent a lot of time helping out at the Riverlakes Community Church, including taking part in mission trips to Mexico. He had such a tender heart, said Brian Murphy, executive pastor. He was a real servant.
He is survived by his wife, Michelle. After marrying, Portell did things he said he would never do while a bachelor – he cooked, he cleaned, he took out the garbage, he vacuumed all the while wearing a silly grin and saying I love you.