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Army Pvt. Bryan Nicholas Spry

Died February 14, 2004 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom


19, of Chestertown, Md.; assigned to D Comany, 1st Battalion, 504th Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.; killed Feb. 13 when his vehicle rolled into a water-filled ditch in Baghdad.

Soldier from the Eastern Shore killed in accident

By Kasey Jones

Associated Press

BALTIMORE — Beverly Fabri made sure that her son, Pvt. Bryan Nicholas Spry, called her three times a week from Baghdad. She gave him a phone calling card and kept adding minutes to it.

Spry, whose family called Nicholas, was always happy to talk with his mom. They last talked for about 20 minutes Thursday, the day before he was killed when his vehicle rolled into a water-filled ditch.

Spry, 19, had only been in the military since he graduated last spring from Kent County High School. Since he arrived in Iraq in January, he’d been injured twice, his mother said.

In a telephone interview from her Chestertown home, Fabri said Spry told her he’d received a laptop computer she’d sent him and wanted her to send him underwear. He also asked for an action photo of his 22-year-old brother, Michael, who plays right field for the River City Rascals, a minor league team about 35 miles outside of St. Louis in O’Fallon, Mo.

Fabri received word late Saturday of her youngest son’s death, which the military announced Tuesday in a news release.

Spry entered the Army three weeks after graduating in June from Kent County High.

“He always seemed to cling to military people,” Fabri said. He spent hours in high school with two teachers who had served in the military. His maternal grandfather served at Guadalcanal in World War II and received a Silver Star, which Spry always carried with him.

Fabri said Spry grew up in the shadow of his older, more athletic brother, but was always proud and supportive of him.

Fabri was very close to her sons, she said.

“Their father and I split up when they were 5 (years old) and 18 months (old), and until I remarried nine years later, it was just the three of us.”

Nicholas suffered from an attention deficit problem, so he and his mother spent hours each week working together on his school work, Fabri said.

Spry was injured Jan. 24 when he was shot by an enemy combatant, his mother said. His flak jacket absorbed most of the impact, but he was badly bruised. Three days later, Spry suffered a concussion when a bomb exploded behind a Humvee he was driving. But Spry, who served with the 82nd Airborne Division based at Fort Bragg, N.C., was back on duty shortly after each incident, his mother said.

Spry’s body was flown to a mortuary at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. Fabri said she hoped his body would be released Wednesday to a local funeral home.

Fabri, who has worked the business manager of a marina for 25 years, is still struggling with the news. “Some minutes are better than others,” she said.

But she said support from the community has been overwhelming. “There has been such an outpouring of love — gifts, flowers, food,” she said. Within hours after she was notified of her son’s death, “everyone who graduated with Nicholas all jumped in their cars and they were here.”


Paratroopers pay tribute to Maryland soldier killed in accident

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — Paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division held a memorial service in Iraq to remember a Maryland soldier killed last week when a bridge collapsed and dropped his Humvee into a water-filled ditch.

Pvt. Bryan Spry, 19, of Chestertown, Md., was called “Bulldog” because of his square jaw, the soldiers said Wednesday after the service. They also recalled his smile and the ever-present pinch of snuff in his lower lip.

Spry died Friday during a night combat patrol. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion of the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, one of the three major infantry units in the division.

Spry joined the Army last year, three weeks after his June graduation from Kent County High School.

About 300 soldiers attended the memorial service at Forward Operating Base Steel Falcon in southern Baghdad, The Fayetteville Observer reported Thursday.

Those attending included Maj. Gen. Charles Swannack, commanding general of the 82nd Airborne Division, and Brig. Gen. Martin Dempsey, commanding general of the 1st Armored Division, which the 82nd works with in Iraq.

The memorial was held under a dark gray sky. Spry’s M-4 rifle, boots and helmet were set up in front of an American flag and the 504th’s regimental colors. Spry’s medals, including a Bronze Star and a Combat Infantryman Badge, were displayed.

Spry was assigned to the 1st Battalion’s D Company, which he joined about a month before the 82nd’s 1st Brigade was deployed to Iraq in January.

“He wanted to be here,” said Pfc. Brandon Hubbard, who attended airborne school with Spry and arrived with him at the 82nd at Fort Bragg, N.C. “He grew on me just like everybody else.”

1st Lt.Sean Moore, the battalion chaplain, said Spry was willing to do anything for anyone, once sharing four huge food packages he got from his mother.

“He showed us how to be a good man, a great friend and an awesome paratrooper,” the chaplain said.

At the end of the service, 1st Sgt. Darrel Jolley made a last roll call. He called Spry’s name three times before turning in silence to face the paratrooper’s boots and weapon. The silence was broken by three volleys of seven rifle shots.

— Associated Press

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