Gold Star Memorial - Army Sgt. Russell Durgin


The following was written by his surviving mother...

Russell was born on July 2, 1982, 10 minutes before his twin, Sean. The first time he was placed in my arms, he smiled. That was to be a prelude of many to come. He enjoyed life, people and would always be ready with a joke, (sometimes a prank) but was always ready to help anyone who needed him, always good natured, never mean.

I believe this element of his personality, to help, to be where he was needed, inspired him to enlist in the military. He began with the Army Reserves while a junior in high school. His basic training at Ft Leonard Wood Mo,  the summer before senior year, monthly weekend at Reserves then  to graduation 2001. He continued his Reserve obligation until 9/11/2001 when he was activated and sent to Ft. Devens MA for several months as an MP. Upon return, exclaimed, “that’s not how I want to serve” asked to be allowed to join full time Army, active. Graduated from infantry training at Ft Bennington, GA and then sent to serve a year in the DMZ , S. Korea.

     Returned to the US in August 2003 assigned to Ft. drum, NY and within weeks was on his way to Iraq. Although he was unknown to his new unit, they welcomed him as they recognized his marksmanship, his ability to inspire and keep spirits high and willingness to take on any challenge (even built the first shower at their new site). He quickly learned the realities of war, seeing death and destruction on both sides of the conflict, often asking “why?” He felt the rush of death himself on more than one occasion and worried “who will tell my mom?” July of that year, his unit came under mortar attack, the camp was completely destroyed, leaving several injured and two of his unit “brothers” dead. With only the clothes on their back, the unit continued to serve, awaiting supplies from home.  Brother Sean was leaving his tour in Qatar and sent all his clothes and supplies to Russ and the unit. “Only have to take AirForce patch off” everything else was the same.

    Russell returned home September 2004 continued at Ft Drum. Initially was promised a transfer to the 82nd Airborne, he asked to remain with 1-32nd feeling a need to be with the men with whom he had shared so much. Although the smiles remained, they were softened by the sadness in his eyes, forever changed.

    He continued speciality training, became a Sniper leader, made plans to enter law enforcement after discharge, became engaged and looked forward to settling down and having a family.

    He was sent to Afghanistan on March 1, 2006. He was killed on June 13, 2006 on a mountain in the Korengal Valkey.  When his group was attacked, he diverted fire away to protect them as they fled.

     The words that came from his men and his leaders:  “ He was a model sniper, leader and man, he routinely performed acts of bravery while hunting down the enemy,” (Lt. Col. Cavoli) “Under” the worst of circumstances, he’d have a smile on his face, unflappable with the ability to make decisions under extreme circumstances.” (SSgt Lightner). “There are American soldiers still alive in the Chosin Battalion because of his bravery and heroism on the battlefield in the Korengal Valkey,”. (Carabello)

     I don’t want June 13, 2006 to be the end, I want his memory, his legacy to live on.

“No greater love than this that he lay down one’s life for his friends.” John 15”13 “Peace begins with a smile.”  St. Theresa



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