AMHERST, WI, USA U.S. Army SPC, BATTERY C 1ST BATTALION 320TH FIELD ARTILLERY REGIMENT, FORT CAMPBELL, KY 42223 MOSUL, IRAQ 11/15/2003
Specialist Eugene Uhl followed his father and grandfather into the military. His father fought in Vietnam, and his grandfather served in World War II and the Korean War.
“He was proud to be there (in Iraq), proud to be defending the country,” his mother, Joan Uhl said.
The 21-year-old soldier from Amherst, Wis., was among 17 killed when two Black Hawk helicopters collided in Iraq on Nov. 15, 2003. He was based at Fort Campbell, and was engaged to be married in June.
“He was serious, but yet he was very outgoing,” his mother said. “He was sometimes a prankster, very caring and full of life.”
Hundreds of mourners gathered to pay tribute to Army Specialist Eugene A. Uhl III. Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle, attending the services at Amherst High School (Uhl’s alma mater), said people throughout the state shared in the loss. Uhl would have turned 22 on Thanksgiving.
“We are understanding what we have to be thankful for and finding inspiration in the life of a 21-year-old man,” Doyle said. “It demonstrates to us what it means to live in a free country and the sacrifice it takes.”
The Bronze Star and Purple Heart were posthumously awarded to Uhl and presented to his parents by Gen. Nathaniel Thompson, representing the Army chief of staff at the funeral.
Uhl served with the Army’s 1st Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment of the Division Artillery Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division.
Uhl wrote in a letter to his father that he had seen some horrible things in Iraq, said Capt. Daniel Farley, the chaplain who co-presided at the funeral with the Rev. Robert Pedretti of St. James Catholic Church in Amherst.
“But he knew he had to be there,” Farley said. “There is ongoing praise of him that he was a man filled with life and enjoyed sharing that life. … Eugene said, ‘I want to make a difference.’ He knew what his choice involved, and he knew it might involve going to Iraq.”
More than 600 relatives, friends and others attended the service in the high school gymnasium. Many went by bus afterward to Greenwood Cemetery in Amherst, where Uhl was buried with full military honors.
Students from the Tomorrow River School District were allowed to be released from classes with a note from their parents to attend the funeral, said Principal Pete Sippel.
“It’s an opportunity for them to see the show of respect for Eugene,” Sippel said.
Uhl was a 2000 graduate of Amherst High School and president of the Student Council.