Screaming Eagles Through Time
Lt. Col. Kim S. Orlando

Army Lt. Col. Kim S. Orlando, 43, of Tennessee; commanding officer of the 716th Military Police Battalion, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), based in Fort Campbell, Ky.; killed while attempting to negotiate with armed men who were congregating on a road near a mosque after curfew on Oct. 16 in Karbala, Iraq. Also killed in the attack were Staff Sgt. Joseph P. Bellavia and Cpl. Sean R. Grilley. Seven other U.S. soldiers were wounded.

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Lt. Col. Kim S. Orlando

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Soldiers pay their last respects to Army Lt. Col. Kim S. Orlando during a Tuesday memorial ceremony at Camp Babylon in Karbala, Iraq. Orlando, from Nashville, Tenn., was killed in action in Karbala on Oct 16 during a joint mission with Iraqi national police. Polish Army / AP Photo.

3 MPs killed in firefight
Fort Campbell soldiers in Iraq were trying to break up gathering


The Leaf-Chronicle

Three Fort Campbell soldiers were killed Friday in Iraq during a firefight with gunmen guarding the headquarters of a Shiite cleric.

The soldiers were killed while attempting to negotiate with the armed men, who were gathered after the 9 p.m. curfew on a road near a mosque in the Shiite holy city Karbala in southern Iraq, according to a statement from Fort Campbell released Friday.

The Iraqis opened fire, killing the three soldiers and wounding seven others, Fort Campbell officials said. Two Iraqi policemen were also killed in the gun battle.

Eight of the Iraqi gunmen died and up to 18 were wounded in the battle, which started about midnight Thursday and continued intermittently until late Friday morning.

Pentagon officials said they were investigating how the shooting began. Iraqis insisted the Americans fired first.

The soldiers were members of the 101st Airborne Division. The deaths bring Fort Campbell's death toll in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom to 26. Thirteen of those deaths were the result of enemy fire.

Killed in the gun battle were Lt. Col. Kim S. Orlando, 43, of Tennessee; Staff Sgt. Joseph P. Bellavia, 28, of Wakefield, Mass.; and Cpl. Sean R. Gilley, 24, of San Bernardino, Calif.

The three were all members of the 716th Military Police Battalion.

Orlando was the commander of the battalion. He also served in Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

Orlando is one of three Army lieutenant colonels killed in the war, the highest rank of any American military personnel killed, according to a list of American war dead compiled by Bloomberg News Service.

The other two lieutenant colonels were Anthony L. Sherman, 43, of Pottstown, Pa., an Army Reservist in a Civil Affairs unit who died Aug. 27 of a non-combat medical problem, and Dominic R. Baragona, 42, of Niles, Ohio, commander of the 19th Maintenance Battalion based at Fort Sill, Okla., who was killed in a wreck May 19.

Orlando joined the Army in 1982 and in June 2002 came from Fort Bragg, where he was the executive officer of the 18th Airborne Military Police Command, said Eric Provost, chief of Austin Peay State University's campus police department and a former military police commander.

Orlando was a master parachutist, a formal designation the military gives for its most experienced paratroopers.

He was also a recipient of the Bronze Star, which is given for heroic or meritorious achievement or service in connection with military operations against an armed enemy or during military operations involving conflict with an opposing armed force.

"He was a great officer, a great commander, a great husband and father. This is a tragic loss for the military police," Provost said.

Fort Campbell spokesman John Minton said Orlando, despite his rank, often worked among the rank-and-file.

"I've known him a long time," Minton said. "This was a hard-charging guy, an out-in-the-front kind of guy."

He is survived by his wife, Sherry, who works with Fort Campbell's Public Affairs Office, and two sons who live at Fort Campbell.

101st Airborne remembers lieutenant colonel killed in Iraq

By MIKE TORRALBA
Associated Press

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. - The highest-ranking Army officer killed in hostile fire in Iraq never hesitated to lead his soldiers personally, whether on a three-mile run in below-freezing temperatures or on patrol in the streets of Karbala.

That was how comrades from the 101st Airborne Division remembered Lt. Col. Kim S. Orlando during a funeral service this morning.

Six pallbearers, decked in the dark-green ceremonial uniforms bearing the "Screaming Eagle" patch of the 101st, waited patiently to bring Orlando's casket into the brick-and-glass chapel. They stood at attention for nearly an hour as hundreds of family, friends and soldiers filed in.

Maj. Darryl Johnson, of the 716th Military Police Battalion, said Orlando, the battalion commander, was "constantly moving to the front and disregarding his own safety."

Orlando's funeral was held the same day the Army announced that another soldier from the division was killed by small arms fire in Mosul, Iraq. That soldier was not immediately identified.

Orlando's death shocked soldiers and friends.

Terry Moreau, a retired colonel and former commander of the 716th, said he has received numerous messages of condolence, some angry, since Orlando was killed.

"Expletives were not deleted," he said. "I got to tell you, there's a lot of frustration there" among Orlando's men.

Orlando, 43, was posthumously award the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart. He was among three Fort Campbell soldiers killed Oct. 16 in a clash with gunmen guarding the headquarters of a Shiite cleric in southern Iraq.

The two other soldiers killed were Staff Sgt. Joseph P. Bellavia, 28, of Wakefield, Mass.; and Cpl. Sean R. Grilley, 24, of San Bernardino, Calif. Services for Bellavia and Grilley were pending, according to a statement from Fort Campbell.

The battalion comprised no fewer than 400 soldiers, and Orlando made it a point to learn the name of each one, said Sgt. Maj. Rodney Smith, a battalion member.

"For a battalion commander to know your name, that touches anybody," Smith said.

His soldiers and his family were paramount to Orlando. When not on duty, he spent as much time as possible with his wife, Sherry, and his two sons, Gregory, 16, and Jason, 10.

He enlisted in the Army as a military policeman in 1982 and was commissioned at Fort Benning, Ga., in 1986. He served in the 1991 Persian Gulf War, and thereafter rose quickly to the rank of lieutenant colonel. He was picked to study at the FBI's National Academy in Quantico, Va. - an exclusive honor for military policemen.

Friends and comrades said Orlando excelled in everything he expected from his soldiers, including physical fitness.

Chaplain Maj. Steve Turner recalled participating in a particular run Orlando led his soldiers on one frigid January morning. Shorts only - no warmup pants; jackets were optional.

"We got to the line; the whistle blew. And Col. Orlando led the pack," Turner said. "He led by example."

When the service ended, soldiers emerged from the chapel, adjusting their black berets. A funeral procession left Fort Campbell for Nashville National Cemetery for a private burial in Tennessee, where Orlando grew up.

Two other Army lieutenant colonels have died in the war, one in a traffic accident and one of non-combat injuries.