Army Pvt. Landon S. Giles
Died February 26, 2005 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom
19, of Indiana, Pa.; assigned to the 6th Squadron, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.; killed Feb. 26 when an improvised explosive device detonated while he was on patrol in Abertha, Iraq. Also killed was Army Pfc. Min S. Choi.
Arkansas soldier fought for others’ rights, mother says
ARKADELPHIA, Ark. — A 19-year-old soldier from Arkansas who was killed in Iraq over the weekend saw his chance to help others when that country was torn by war, his family said.
Pvt. Landon Scott Giles died in Abertha, Iraq, on Saturday when a homemade bomb went off while he was on patrol. Pfc. Min S. Choi, 21, of River Vale, N.J., also was killed in the blast.
“Landon always took up for the underdog,” his mother Kim Giles said Wednesday. “I believe that’s why he was in Iraq. He was just an extraordinary person.”
Family members said the young man lived for adventure and signed up for military service before he got out of high school because he wanted to help the people of Iraq.
Giles grew up in Arkadelphia and graduated from high school there last May. He entered the Army in June as an indirect fire infantryman. He had been in Iraq only a week when he was killed.
At a news conference at the National Guard Armory, Kim Giles spoke with news reporters, along with his two sisters, Jo Ann and Jennifer, and his grandmothers. She said her son didn’t believe Iraq was a nuclear threat but rather felt the Iraqis were being treated unjustly and had no one to fight for their rights.
“He wanted to help,” she said, and knew he could lose his life in doing so. “Landon has always been strong and courageous.”
The family all spoke of his athleticism and adventurous spirit. He loved to ski, snowboard and work on cars. He played soccer in high school and participated in junior high football and local youth league baseball programs. He loved to travel and enjoyed hunting, “mainly to just see the animals,” his mother said.
Jo Ann Giles told of his visiting her family in California and jumping into the cold Pacific Ocean. “I’m on the beach freezing and he’s in the water,” she said. “He was so much fun.”
Landon Giles became a certified scuba diver when he was 12. He went deep-sea fishing off the coast of Australia and surfed in Hawaii. His father’s job required extensive travel, and he often took his son with him.
Landon Giles’ adventures included a two-week tour of Australia that included time with Aborigines. His family said he rode an elephant through parts of Thailand, went on a jungle safari, and visited other countries including Korea, the Philippines and Bali.
Giles moved with his family to Indiana, Pa., during his high school years. He attended Indiana Area Senior High School before returning to Arkadelphia for his senior year. Giles moved back to Arkansas in August 2003. His mother lives in Arkadelphia and his father lives in Colorado, a military spokeswoman said.
Giles entered the military through the Delayed Entry Program, in which he committed to joining the Army before he left high school. He was assigned to the Army’s 3rd Infantry based in Fort Stewart, Ga., and served with the 8th Calvary Regiment.
“I had to sign papers giving him permission to join,” Kim Giles said. She tried to talk him out of it, but once she saw how committed he was to doing it, she agreed.
“When Landon left for the Middle East, I told him he was on his way to another great adventure,” Kim Giles said.
Rep. Mike Ross, D-Ark., said in a news release that he was “deeply saddened” by Giles’ death. “I will be forever grateful to him for his courageous spirit. My deepest thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.”