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First Name: Christopher

Last Name: Gathercole

Birthplace: Santa Rosa, CA, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Date of Birth: 16 October 1986

Date of Death: 26 May 2008

Rank: Specialist

Years Served:
Christopher Gathercole

•  Afghanistan War (Operation Enduring Freedom) (2001 - present)


Christopher "Gator" Gathercole
Specialist Four, U. S. Army
Operation Enduring Freedom - Afghanistan

Christopher Gathercole was born on 16 October 1986 in Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, CA. He was the son of Eddie Ray and Catherine Gathercole. Known for his wonderful smile, and toddler mischief, Christopher was extremely close to his brother Edward; they were almost inseparable. Family circumstances eventually separated the two brothers. Christopher had a rough childhood, spending many years in foster homes. Separated from his only brother and family in his teen years, he entered a treatment house for troubled teens and turned his life around. He re-bonded with his family in 2002. He attended Piner High School.

Military Service

Christopher joined the Army in October 2005, hoping to improve his choices in life. He made friends easily and joining the Army seemed to have turned his life around. When home on leave, people noticed that he had direction in his life. He had formerly believed too much in others; belief that was often unwarranted.

He completed basic training at Fort Benning, GA, and was then assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment at Fort Lewis, WA. He was a lightweight machine gunner, which meant he spent long, tense hours behind a powerful MK46 machine gun atop a Humvee.

On the afternoon of 26 May 2008 in Paktia Province, Afghanistan, about sixty miles south of Kabul, Christopher and the 75th Ranger Regiment was conducting a daytime helicopter assault on a set of buildings believed to house a dozen or more terrorists. Staff Sergeant Leroy Petry was the senior non-commissioned officer on site.

The outer structures were easily cleared, and the Rangers zeroed in on the targeted building. Petry and PFC Lucas Robinson were moving from an inner courtyard area to an outer one when two terrorists, armed with AK-47 assault rifles, opened fire. Robinson was hit in his side plate. A separate round struck Petry and penetrated each of his legs.

At that point, the two struggled to take cover behind a chicken coop situated to the northwest of the targeted building. A third man, Sergeant Daniel Higgins, ran to join them, while the wounded Petry managed to lob a grenade at their attackers.

"You could hear the firefight, or the contact that was taking place, with second platoon," recalled Master Sgt. Reese Teakell. "We exchanged gunfire with [the terrorists] several times," said 1st Sergeant Steven Walter. "We threw multiple grenades, trying to clear the back corner area. There was no way to do it without completely exposing ourselves."

During this firefight, Christopher suffered a fatal gunshot wound to the head.

[Leroy A. Petry, now a Sergeant First Class, was awarded the Medal of Honor for his acts of heroism during the battle in which Christopher was killed. The Medal was awarded by President Barack Obama in a White House Ceremony on 12 July 2011.]

Medals and Awards

National Defense Service Medal
Army Service Ribbon

Badges and Tabs

Combat Infantryman Badge
Parachutist Badge
Ranger Tab

Death and Burial

Specialist Four Christopher Gathercole was killed in action on 26 May 2008. He is buried at Santa Rosa Memorial Park in Santa Rosa, CA, in the Veteran's Section. Christopher was laid to rest near his grandfather, Charles Haines, an Air Force veteran who died in 1989.

Chris is survived by his brother, Edward; sisters Jennifer Daly and Sarah Ferrell; grandmothers Maryann Haines and Heidi Moore; devoted CASA Terry Vail; Partner in Heart Victoria Nickel; Aunts Charlene Haines, Candace Wilson, Claudette Biemeret, and Nancy Giordano; Uncles Gordy Giordano and John Wilson; cousins Amber Haines, Emily and Sophia Wilson and Sharmagne and Todd Sterbens; niece Ahnna Peterson; second cousins Cheyenne and Sierra Sterbens; Stepdad Stan Ferrell; Uncle Bill Ferrell; father Eddie Ray Gathercole and mother Catherine Ferrell.

Origin of Nickname/Handle:
The first part of his last name, when pronounced properly, sounds similar to "Gator." Besides, it was a cool name.

Honoree ID: 2143   Created by: MHOH




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