FT RUCKER, AL, US
CW2,3RD BN, 17TH CAV, 10TH MOUNTAIN DIVISION, FORT DRUM, NY 13602
01/24/2004, MOSUL, IRAQ
Chief Warrant Officer Brian David Hazelgrove a native of Edinburgh, Indiana, an Army helicopter pilot, died January 23rd in Iraq. At his grave site, six of Hazelgrove’s fellow soldiers silently folded the American flag that was reverently presented to his widow, Army Sergeant Kimberly Hazelgrove. One of Brian Hazelgrove’s sons, Zachary, sat holding his father’s black Stetson hat, the distinctive symbol of the Air Cavalry. Brian and Kimberly have four children.
CW Hazelgrove grew up in Edinburgh before enlisting in 1994. “Brian was a very special person. He lived with this enthusiasm that not many people had,” exclaimed friend Rob Haines. “He died as a hero for our country, but I think it’s just as important to know he lived as a hero, too.
Friends and former teachers who had gathered at the Camp Atterbury chapel, remember Brian as a fun-loving jokester at Edinburgh Community High School. In the Army he found his true calling. Lieutenant Colonel James Cotter, the Camp Atterbury chaplain, described a young Hazelgrove as a mixture of both Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer. “Many of you gathered here will think of Brian as that hometown kid; but understand, this isn’t about the hometown kid who died for his country. This is about a man that sacrificed his life for his family and his friends so they can be free,” Cotter explained to those gathered. “This isn’t about the kid who was a high school athlete and an all-around neat guy. This is about the man who set aside childish ways and wove those experiences into the fabric that represents America.”
Brian’s uniform was at the front of the chapel, including his boots and ceremonial Air Cavalry spurs. Brigadier General Byron Bagby of Fort Drum, NY where Hazelgrove was stationed offered his thoughts: “Thank you for letting us have Brian in the Army for 10 years,” and described Hazelgrove as “a great soldier and a great warrior. It is obvious to me that Brian touched many lives, and that this community cares a great deal about people. Just a great American, a fine man who enjoyed his family; a great husband (and father); just a great person to be around.”
Gene Redding, a family friend explained that the death of Brian Hazelgrove brings the reality of war home. The parents “aren’t just people down the street”, they are people who made a sacrifice for something we say we believe in, and that’s something worthy of respect and acknowledgment. They are people who paid for all of us, as do Brian’s wife and children.”
Redding noted that Hazelgrove died serving a higher purpose, and in so doing set an example for young people in Edinburgh. “It’s very sad, but it’s also very ennobling,” he added.