Mickel D Garrigus

ELMA, WA, USA U.S. Marines SGT, 543D MILITARY POLICE CO, 92D MP BN, (89TH MP BDE), FORT DRUM, NY TAJI, IRAQ 01/27/2007

Hours after a conversation with his family was cut short when his 1-year-old son accidentally hung up the telephone, a military police officer died of injuries from a roadside bombing in Iraq.

Sergeant. Mickel David Garrigus, 24, assigned to the 543rd Military Police Company, 91st Police Battalion, 10th Sustainment Brigade at Fort Drum, N.Y., died Saturday in Taji of injuries from the detonation of an improvised explosive device near his vehicle during combat patrol, the Defense Department said.

I still don’t believe it, his mother, Deadra Garrigus, said Tuesday. I’m still numb. It’s like my son is not dead. Just this morning I checked the phone to see if he called me. I picked it up to see if he called. I wasn’t for sure. I called his number, and there was nothing. The soldier’s wife Natasha brought their son from her parents’ home in Carson City, Nev., to visit last week. On Friday, all took turns speaking with him. It was 6:07 p.m. I talked to him for a few minutes, I said I love him, he loves me. He asked, ‘How’s my son?’ He never called Ethan by his name, always ‘my son,’ his mother recalled. The boy’s happy gurgles were the last family communication his dad had. The baby, in his excitement, hung up the phone and the connection was lost. He knew it was his daddy, Deadra Garrigus said.

His mother said Garrigus joined the Army on a delayed enlistment program a month after completing high school in 2001, then spent a year as a guard at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and was sent to Iraq on Jan. 18, 2004. A year later, he was married to Natasha, who has relatives in the Army at Fort Lewis. Last year he was home for his son’s birth, then re-enlisted and was sent to Iraq again when the baby was 3 months old.

He had a choice of going to a non-deployment base but said, ‘Nope, my friends are in Iraq. They are my soldiers. I will be with them,’ his mother said. He died doing what he wanted to do. He did not believe in the war but he believed in the people that were there.

She said the family was told by others in his unit that in the moments before the explosion that killed him, he pulled rank and ordered one of his soldiers to put on a flak jacket, in all likelihood saving her life.

Mickel’s portrait is also on Poster 10