Capt. Patriquin: Smarter Than Kerry, Rangle
Patriquin was a mustang, an officer who began his career in the enlisted ranks. He grew up in Lockport, Ill., near Joliet, and enlisted after graduating from high school in 1992. He served with Special Forces in Central America and later attended the military's language institute, learning Arabic, Spanish, Portugese and two Central American Indian dialects. He became an officer in 2000 and, as a rifle platoon leader, was awarded a Bronze Star for service in Afghanistan. Other deployments sent him to Jordan and Kuwait.Patriquin certainly proved that there is more to the mind and character of those drawn to the military than their denigrators would have us believe. But it's what Patriquin did with his intelligence that really impresses: When he was assigned to be a warrior, he was a warrior; when he was assigned to be a bridge-builder, he was that, too:
Patriquin, as part of the 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division, was assigned to the sheik outreach beat. It was not an easy assignment: to be friends with one sheik resists alienating his rivals. While other soldiers may have preferred a more "kinetic" role fighting Al Qaeda members, Patriquin took to his assignment immediately.
"In the Army, we tend to get bogged down with our own thinking," said Capt. Sean Bolling, who worked with Patriquin. "We see a problem and try to fix it. But he saw the big picture: 'OK, we have a problem, let's talk to the tribes and give them responsibility for it.' "
Nothing happens easily or quickly in Iraq, and weeks and months of preliminary discussions preceded action by the sheiks. Patriquin had the knack of sitting for hours, sipping tea, eating goat meat, and talking of matters large and small.
One of the area's leading sheiks, Sattar Bazeaa Fatikhan, came to like the Midwesterner with the spreading mustache and the quick laugh. They talked business and family -- sometimes simultaneously. The sheik adopted Patriquin into his Abo Resha tribe and gave him an Arabic name "wissam," which means warrior.
The sheik sometimes laughed at how Patriquin's Midwestern tones wrapped around complex Arabic words; he joked that maybe the American's nickname should be "destroyer" for what he doing to the native language.
On Dec. 6, Patriquin, Army Specialist Vincent J. Pomante III and Marine Major Megan McClung were killed when their Humvee hit a roadside bomb in Ramadi. He is survived by his wife, Amy, daughter Emily, 7, and sons Harmon, 5, and Logan, 1.His service in Iraq is testimony to how intelligently we are fighting there, despite the wall of negativism from anti-war Dems and media. Tell me we're making a mistake after you read this:
Last week a project that Patriquin worked to make happen became reality. After a sweep by Iraqi police of one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in this dangerous city, U.S. soldiers swooped in to build a police station, a first for the Ta'meem neighborhood. At the sheik's insistence, the station was named for Travis Patriquin, who was 32. A successor has taken over for Patriquin as the military's liaison to the tribes but the new captain has large shoes to fill.
"There's no replacing someone like Travis," [Capt. Sean] Bolling said. The sheik agrees. "We were brothers," he said.
Rest in peace and honor, Capt. Patriquin.
Related Tags: War on terror, Iraq, Patriquin