FAIRVIEW HEIGHTS, IL, USA
SGT, C COMPANY, 10TH AVIATION BATTALION, FORT DRUM, NY 13602
MOSUL, IRAQ 07/01/2004
An Illinois native who recently reenlisted to serve a longer tour of duty in Iraq was killed Thursday in a landmine explosion, his family said.
Sergeant Christopher Wagener, 24, of Fairview Heights, died near Mosul, Iraq, and appeared to have been killed instantly, according to his father, Ken Wagener. He added that the family was seeking more information about the incident.
“We are trying to find out whether he suffered or not,” Ken Wagener said, speaking by telephone Thursday night from his home in Fairview Heights, a town about 10 miles from St. Louis.
Christopher Wagener was a helicopter repair technician from an aviation unit based in Fort Drum, New York. He graduated from Belleville East High School and immediately joined the military, his father said.
After six years in the Army, he had the chance to leave the service after a short stint in Iraq, but chose to re-enlist in February, his father said. He re-enlisted in January so that other men with more to lose might not have to, said his sister, Michelle Friederich. “He said he’s single and has no kids, and if he can save one father from going over (to Iraq), he’d do it,” Friederich said.
“He often e-mailed or called, the last time last week,” his father said. “He loved what he was doing. He had no complaints.”
Even at war, Christopher A. Wagener had a knack for making people smile.
“He always had so much enthusiasm,” said Corporal Stephanie Steele, who knew him for three years. “I never saw him sad. He was always, always happy no matter what.”
Wagener entertained his family and friends with far-fetched stories. He had a love for the outdoors – especially kayaking. At his funeral, a bright orange and yellow kayak was propped against the wall, towering over the casket.
Wagener is survived by his father, mother and sister.