Slain Soldier Had Community Ties
A 38-year-old southwestern Ohio soldier who was killed in Afghanistan, and just days away from a visit home to see his wife and three children, had family ties to Washington Court House.
Sgt. 1st Class Bobby Estle of Lebanon was one of two Fort Drum, New York based soldiers killed on Saturday when their unit was attacked with small-arms fire in Wardak province, Afghanistan.
Estle lived in Washington Court House as a child in the mid 1980′s and attended Cherry Hill Primary School for several years before moving with his mother to Lebanon, Ohio, according to his sister, Deanna Cooper.
Cooper said that Estle left behind many aunts, uncles, cousins, nephews, grandparents, and a sister who reside in Washington Court House.
“We’re very proud of him, but this is still very hard to deal with,” said Cooper.
Estle joined the Army in 1993. He had been deployed twice to Iraq and twice to Afghanistan. His wife said the family had been looking forward to a visit home from him within 10 days.
He was with the 630th Engineer Company, 7th Engineer Battalion, 10th Sustainment Brigade. Another soldier, Pfc. Jose Belmontes, 28, of La Verne, California, also died during the attack.
Estle’s honors included the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star, the Meritorious Service Medal, two Army Commendation Medals, seven Army Achievement Medals, the Navy Achievement Medal, five Army Good Conduct Medals, and two National Defense Service Medals.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has directed that the flags on all state buildings be lowered to half-staff in honor of and in tribute to Estle and Belmontes.
“I join with all New Yorkers in mourning the loss of Private 1st Class Belmontes and Sgt. 1st Class Estle and send my deepest sympathies to their family, friends, and fellow soldiers,” Cuomo said. “We will honor the service of these Fort Drum soldiers and we will be forever grateful for their dedication to our nation.”