CECILIA, KY, USA U.S. Army PFC, BATTERY B, 2D BATTALION, 138TH FIELD ARTILLERY, CARLISLE, KY RUSTAMIYAH, IRAQ 09/10/2007
Rachel Crutcher knew from birth her son would be something special. Crutcher remembered her son, Private First Class Sammie Phillips, in a letter read at the soldier’s funeral Sept. 22. Many of the nearly 1,000 in attendance laughed when Crutcher’s letter spoke of Phillips getting into trouble as a child, but it said she knew he would grow into a good man.
“I know you’re in heaven saying, ‘Momma, don’t cry. I got this,’ ” the letter read.
Phillips, 19, a member of the Kentucky Army National Guard, was killed Sept. 10 in Rustamiyah, Iraq. His vehicle overturned while conducting a traffic control mission.
Along with mourners inside, the funeral, at Stithton Baptist Church in Radcliff, drew more than 200 Patriot Guard Riders and community members, who stood outside the church and lined the drive with American flags. Inside, Chaplain Jay Padgett told mourners they should focus on hope.
“Sometimes we get so caught up in loss that we forget to celebrate life,” Padgett said.
Friends, including a former babysitter, spoke of their favorite memories of Phillips, eliciting tears and laughter from the congregation. A letter from Phillips’ wife, Ashley, also was read. Ashley Phillips’ letter spoke of her grief, but said how happy she was to have had three years with him.
“You went from my high school sweetheart to my husband,” she wrote.
A slideshow put together by Ashley Phillips’ sister showing Phillips throughout his life was shown. Padgett ended the service by telling those gathered that it was OK to cry and grieve. He said as a chaplain, he often asks soldiers, with all they do to prepare for combat, if they are spiritually prepared as well. Padgett said Phillips would have said yes.
Speaking to reporters after a brief service remembering the anniversary of 9/11 Kentucky Adj. General Donald Storm told reporters: “Sammie Phillips, 19 years old, lived in Vine Grove, Ky. His wife is 19 years old. He was just a tremendous young soldier that had just tremendous potential.”
Phillips was assigned to Battery B, 2nd Battalion, 138th Field Artillery, based in Carlisle. He was the third member of the Kentucky National Guard in the past two weeks to have died while deployed to the war in Irag.
In a statement released by the Guard, Capt. Robert S. Mattingly, commander of Phillip’s unit stated, “Private First Class Sammie Phillips was an excellent Soldier who had unlimited potential. I rode with Sammie while training in Mississippi. He was one of our best gunners, the absolute cream of the crop. He was always ready to go, which is one of the best traits a Soldier could possess.”
The Guard’s statement said Phillips, who joined the Kentucky Army National Guard last year, deployed with his unit in August 2007 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He is a 2006 graduate of North Hardin High School.
Phillips is survived by his wife, Ashley Marie Phillips; his mother, Rachel D. Crutcher; stepfather Donnie Crutcher; and father, Ronald E. Phillips.