Sgt Lawrence A Roukey

Sgt Lawrence A Roukey

Birth
Portland, Cumberland County, Maine, USA
Death 26 Apr 2004 (aged 33)
Iraq
Burial South Portland, Cumberland County, Maine, USA
Memorial ID 9911466 · View Source
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Sgt. Lawrence Roukey, a 33-year-old father of two who joined the Army Reserve after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, was killed Monday in Iraq. The Westbrook resident appeared to be one of two soldiers killed in an explosion after a team looking for chemical weapons raided a Baghdad warehouse. A military spokesman in Maine could not confirm Roukey died in the warehouse, but those were the only hostile-fire U.S. casualties reported in Baghdad that day.
Roukey had told his family and friends that he served as an armed escort for personnel in Baghdad. When he spoke to them Sunday, he said he may be going on a mission that he could not talk about until it was complete. He is the eighth person from Maine, or with ties to the state, to die in Iraq since the United States invaded 13 months ago. Roukey's Reserve unit in Lewiston, the 3rd Battalion 304th Regiment, has not been activated as a whole. He was one of the reservists deployed individually because the military needs their special skills. Roukey served three years in the Army after high school and was proud of his role in the military. He was in good spirits the last time he called home, on Sunday, although he missed his wife, Ryann, his 2-year-old son, Nicholas, and his 15-year-old stepdaughter, Sonya. "It was a cause he believed in," said his sister, Dotty Roukey, noting through tears that her brother re-enlisted because of the 9/11 terror attacks. "I told him, 'Make sure you're ducking and bobbing.' He said he was." Roukey grew up in Portland, working afternoons and weekends at Amato's sandwich shops and Shop 'n Save supermarkets. Jeff Reali was a close friend, and the two shared an apartment after they graduated from Deering High School in 1989. "We signed up for the military together, but I bailed," Reali said. He decided the military wasn't where he wanted to spend the next three years, but his friend loved it, particularly his deployment to Korea.
Military service was a family tradition for Roukey. His father had served in the Korean War, and his grandfather was a career military man. Roukey was not an athlete when he left for the service, but he returned with a fondness for running and hiking. He climbed Mount Washington and Mount Katahdin and was planning to hike the final 100-mile stretch of the Appalachian Trail this summer before he was called up for military service. One of his life goals was to through-hike the Appalachian Trail. Roukey and Reali worked together, and at one point opened the Bahama Beach Club on Forest Avenue. That's where Roukey met Ryann, and within a year they were engaged. They married in 1996. Roukey served as a corrections officer at the Maine State Prison in Thomaston and at a Vermont facility before getting a job as a clerk at the main post office in Portland. "The pride he felt in the military, he showed it at work," said co-worker Lance Farago. He said fellow employees would joke about Roukey needing a haircut as soon as his standard buzz cut started to grow in. Farago said his friend was known as a hard worker, willing to put in extra hours when needed as long as he was at home when his son woke up. He changed shifts so he could spend more time with his family, Farago said. The Army activated Roukey on March 5, and after a week of training in Texas, sent him to Iraq. He had been there barely a month when he was killed.
Roukey never complained about his assignment. Even though he could hear mortar shells and rockets falling nearby every night, he was in good spirits. He even sent home a picture of himself and several members of his unit smoking cigars - a picture they planned to send to Cigar Aficionado magazine. But he ached for his family. "He was really happy. Nicholas spoke to him," Roukey's sister-in-law, Juli Tasker, said as she recalled Sunday's telephone conversation. The toddler often would say "Daddy-work, Daddy-work," and when he finally got on the phone with his father Sunday, the first thing he said was: "Daddy, can I go outside now?" Nicholas carried his father's picture with him all day and later would repeat: "Me see daddy now?"
Ryann Roukey was grocery shopping Monday afternoon when she returned home to find two military chaplains who broke the news. On Tuesday, friends and family came to the couple's home off Route 302 throughout the day to offer condolences and support. Flags flew in the garden of the small house, and in the front yard a yellow ribbon adorned a small tree, barren but for the first buds of spring. Deanna Palazzo tried to comfort her friend Ryann as she sobbed with the immensity of the loss. "Larry has a 2-year-old son who will not know his father, but he will know his father was a hero and was trying to make the world a better place to grow up in," Palazzo said. Gov. John Baldacci and the four members of Maine's congressional delegation expressed their sympathies for Roukey's family and praised the sacrifice he made for his country. The U.S. troops killed and wounded in Monday's warehouse explosion were part of the Iraq Survey Group, the task force scouring Iraq for chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, according to The Associated Press. It was not clear whether group members themselves were killed or if the dead were members of an Army escort.
The U.S. military said the Americans were investigating a site where "chemical munitions" were suspected of being produced when the blast went off. The front half of the one-story building was leveled, and four Humvees parked outside were set ablaze. Early results of an investigation into the explosion indicate the blast was accidental, a U.S. official said Tuesday. The official, speaking in Washington, said it appears that members of the group accidentally touched off a fire as they tried to enter the building. The fire may have caused a second explosion outside the building. The chemicals found inside were standard industrial chemicals, stored in an improper or unsafe way, the official said. There was no ambush, nor was anyone lured into the building, the official said. Back in Maine, Roukey's sister-in-law, Tasker, said she was "not for or against" the war in Iraq. "I have to believe something comes out of this. He didn't die for nothing," she said. Tasker noted that Roukey's birthday was three weeks ago. "My son's classroom made him birthday cards," she said. "He hadn't gotten them yet, though." "He was 33," Reali said irritably. "He should have been home with his family."


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  • Created by: Cindy
  • Added: 16 Nov 2004
  • Find A Grave Memorial 9911466
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Sgt Lawrence A Roukey (4 Apr 1971–26 Apr 2004), Find A Grave Memorial no. 9911466, citing Calvary Cemetery, South Portland, Cumberland County, Maine, USA ; Maintained by Cindy (contributor 46573079) .