LA PUENTE, CA, USA U.S. Army MAJ, HHT, 3D ARMORED CAVALRY, FORT CARSON, CO ZAMBAR MOUNTAIN, IRAQ 01/07/2006
Army Major Douglas La Bouff wasn’t ordered to go to Iraq; he volunteered. That gung-ho spirit typified La Bouff, who dreamed of becoming a soldier from the time he was a boy.
“He told me he was over there to protect us from harm,” said George La Bouff, who traded e-mails with his younger brother during his deployment in Iraq. “He believed in what he was doing.”
Douglas La Bouff, 36, was killed Jan. 7 when the Black Hawk helicopter he was in crashed outside Tall Afar, west of Mosul, according to military officials. Eleven others — seven soldiers and four civilians — also died in the crash, which remains under investigation.
La Bouff, assigned to the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment at Ft. Carson, Colo., was married and had two young children. He had been scheduled to return to the United States next month.
“This is the tragic loss of a genuinely good man,” said Army Captain Robert Medina, a longtime friend. “Everyone is finding this very hard to accept.”
La Bouff was born in Baldwin Park and reared in La Puente. He attended elementary school at St. Joseph School and served as an altar boy. As a child, he liked to run around the neighborhood in Army camouflage, re-creating historic battles, pretending to launch attacks and rescue wounded soldiers.
“He participated in some of the country’s greatest military campaigns, right here in the neighborhood of La Puente,” said Medina.
“There was a loyalty about him that was obvious,” said Msgr. Patrick Staunton, then the parish priest at St. Joseph Catholic Church. “He was a very serious-minded young man. You knew you could trust him.”
Last year, a colonel Doug knew asked him to accompany him to Iraq to serve as his top intelligence officer, friends and family said. Though the informal request did not compel him to go, La Bouff agreed to do so. Medina said La Bouff put off his desire to pursue a teaching post at the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., to serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“He did this out of selflessness,” Medina said. “He wanted to make a contribution where it mattered the most.”
Jim La Bouff remembered his younger brother, who was named for Gen. Douglas MacArthur, as a “happy kid”. Douglas was passionate about military history and liked to talk about progress being made in Iraq.
“He knew the risks, but he was willing to assume them in service of his country,” he said.