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Robert T Ayres III


23-year-old sergeant Robert Ayres died Sept. 29, 2007 in Baghdad after being wounded by insurgents who attacked his unit with small-arms fire, the Department of Defense reported. He was assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment in Vilseck, Germany.

He was due home on leave Nov. 19 to celebrate Thanksgiving and planned to see family and friends and go to Disneyland.

Ayres was born, along with a twin brother, on July 26, 1984, in Santa Monica, one day before his sister’s fourth birthday. Since she and the twins had birthdays so close together, they shared one big celebration.

Their names were all inscribed on a hefty ice cream cake, she said, and, at first, it felt a little like a letdown, like having your birthday on Christmas. Then, she said, everyone grew used to it. Their mother would take them to Sea World or Raging Waters.

Ayres was mischievous and full of pranks as a boy, said his father, Robert T. Ayres Jr. “He’d climb as high as he could in a tree. He was all boy,” his father said.

Ayres was a sandy-haired, drums-playing teenager who loved music by the Ramones and the Grateful Dead when he stumbled half-awake into his father’s Brentwood kitchen one morning and saw the World Trade Center ablaze on television.

He and his father watched together as the twin towers fell, and Ayres said, “Dad, I want to go fight for my country.” Years passed, and his father nearly forgot the comment. Then, one semester into college, the Malibu High School graduate quietly signed up to join the Army.

“We were shocked,” recalled Nancy Schellkopf, a former teacher and family friend. “We said, ‘Aren’t you interested in the Navy or the Air Force?’ He said, ‘No.’ “

Ayres’ family believes that he was influenced by the experiences of his grandfathers in World War II; one was a Marine and the other worked in the Pearl Harbor shipyards when the Japanese attacked.

Ayres wanted to make a difference in the lives of Iraqis, his family said.

Robert’s portrait is also located on Poster 3

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