2 soldiers from Md. die a day apart

The Baltimore Sun

Two Maryland soldiers, including a Frostburg State University graduate who dreamed of being a doctor, died a day apart last week in the Middle East, the Department of Defense announced yesterday.

Army 1st Lt. Gwilym J. Newman, 24, a former Waldorf resident, was killed Thursday in Tarmiyah, Iraq, by small arms fire while on dismounted patrol, a military statement said.

According to his mother, Christine Newman, Lieutenant Newman served as a tank platoon commander and was based in Fort Hood, Texas.

Army Sgt. Edelman L. Hernandez, 23, of Hyattsville died Wednesday in Korengal Valley, Afghanistan, while on combat patrol. No cause of death was given, and the incident is being investigated, the Pentagon said in a statement. Family members could not be reached last night.

They were among five deaths of Army personnel announced yesterday in Iraq and Afghanistan. Military officials could not be reached for comment last night.

Sergeant Hernandez was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division out of Fort Drum, N.Y.

Those who knew Lieutenant Newman at Frostburg State and while serving in the Army said he was an intelligent leader -- he skipped a grade in high school -- and earned the respect of his colleagues and underlings with his compassion, loyalty and his ability to crack a funny joke.

Lieutenant Newman, who grew up in New Jersey and moved with his family to Waldorf in 1998, attended the College of Southern Maryland before enrolling at Frostburg State.

He graduated in December 2003 with a bachelor's degree in psychology, his mother said in a phone interview from Rockwall, Texas.

Lieutenant Newman made an impression at Frostburg State. For his senior seminar, he wrote a paper on attention deficit hyperactivity disorder that his professor, Dr. Alan Bensley, said he upheld as a model for other students.

Dr. Bensley said he only knew Lieutenant Newman from that class, but that he wrote his student a letter of recommendation.

"He was a very smart guy" and "seemed to be an independent thinker," Dr. Bensley said.

Months away from getting married and holding onto his dream of being a doctor, Lieutenant Newman joined the military as a way of providing for his family and earning money for medical school, his mother said.

He married his wife, Samantha, on June 5, 2004, and started training camp four days later at Fort Knox, Tenn.

"He had a lot of emotions. He was excited about being in the Army. He was hopeful. ... He felt like he was doing something important," his mother said.

"He knew he was going to have to go to Iraq. He wanted to go with his guys," she said.

Lieutenant Newman, who began his first tour in Iraq on Oct. 30, was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

Leiah Gerling, 24, whose husband, James, was serving in Iraq with Lieutenant Newman, said soldiers looked out for the lieutenant.

Ms. Gerling added: "He made people love him because he loved them first. He did that at home with his mom."

Lieutenant Newman's mother said she disagreed with her son's decision to enlist. She said at the time she felt "fear ... apprehension ... pretty much that was about it."

"I think it's an absolute waste," Christine Newman said of the U.S. involvement in Iraq: "I don't think we can do anything beneficial for the amount of people we are losing."

In addition to his wife, Lieutenant Newman is survived by a son, Gwilym, who turns 2 this month, on his father's birthday.


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