SSGT Troy Westberg  KIT Kuwait

3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne)

Special Forces Soldier Mourned

Bombing victim honored

Tuesday, March 20, 2001

By J.S. Newton
Staff writer
Sounds of pain and loss streamed out of a black speaker on the lawn of the military chapel.

Staff Sgt. Troy J. Westberg of the 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group was gone, the sounds said. And it hurt.

Staff photo by Steve Aldridge
An honor guard of members of the 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group, fires a volley in a 21-gun salute during a memorial service for Staff Sgt. Troy Westberg.

The loudspeaker carried the weeping of Westberg’s wife, echoing off cinder block walls inside the chapel.

Outside, fellow Green Berets stood shoulder to shoulder. One shed a single tear when a bagpiper played ‘‘Amazing Grace.”

Rifle fire crackled from beneath an oak on the west side of the chapel, out of sight from the mourners.

An estimated 400 soldiers, friends and family members came together Monday at JFK Chapel on Fort Bragg to pay their respects to this Green Beret.

Westberg, who was 29, died last week when an American Navy fighter accidentally dropped bombs on a group of coalition soldiers training in the Kuwait desert. Five Americans and a New Zealand military officer were killed.

Staff photo by Steve Aldridge
A Special Forces beret, a weapon, and boots are set up as a memorial for Westberg.

The Pentagon is still investigating to see who was at fault.

Westberg was new to his unit. But in the short time he was there, his fellow soldiers got to know him pretty well, they said.

They said he was confident. They said he was the kind who would take on any mission. They said he did not enjoy taking second place to anyone.

But mostly, there was talk of his family -- his wife, Michelle; two children, Josh and Ashley; and his parents, Leslie and Wanda Westberg from Eagle Lake, Minn.

The Westbergs did not wish to speak publicly, the Army said. But the Army released two statements -- one from the family and one from a friend, Sgt. 1st Class Robert Crane.

‘‘There is one message that the family would like to convey... and that is, they do accept this for what happened, for what it was, an accident,’’ Crane said. ‘‘They do not blame anybody.’’

The family’s statement said, in part, that Westberg had worked hard at mixing his family life with his love for his job.

At the end of the service, another sound echoed under the clear-blue Carolina sky.

It was the sound of Spc. Michelle Wheeler’s bugle playing taps.


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