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2 Californians among 3 troops killed in explosion

Army Staff Sgt. Carl L. Seigart, 32, San Luis Obispo

March 04, 2007|Steve Chawkins | Times Staff Writer

Darlene Seigart still listens to the voice of her son, Army Staff Sgt. Carl Leonard Seigart, giving her a Christmas call from Iraq in the middle of the night.

"Are you there, Mom?" he calls to her excitedly on her message machine. "Are you there?"

When the call came through, Darlene Seigart groggily picked up and chatted with her son for what turned out to be the last time. A career soldier who joined the Army just after graduating from Arroyo Grande High School, Seigart, 32, was killed Feb. 14 in Baqubah, north of Baghdad. "I have to listen to him once in a while," his mother said tearfully. "He was my hero."

His Purple Heart and Bronze Star for valor sit displayed in their cases on her dining room table in San Luis Obispo. The flag that draped his coffin and various service medals are neatly tucked into a polished wooden box.

A mechanic who worked on Humvees and tanks, Seigart died with Army Spc. Ronnie G. Madore Jr., 34, of San Diego and Sgt. John D. Rode, 24, of Pineville, N.C. The three, good friends based at Ft. Hood, Texas, were on their way to recover a military vehicle hit in combat when a roadside bomb exploded near their convoy, according to Seigart's relatives.

He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division.

Staying with family members in Picayune, Miss., his wife, Suzanne, said her husband was a dedicated soldier but was uncertain about reenlisting.

"He believed in his job, but he really didn't believe in what was going on over there," she said. "We were waiting to see who the next president would be -- that's how bad it had gotten."

Among other posts, Seigart had served in Bosnia-Herzegovina, where, with the help of his mother's church in Grover Beach, Calif., he distributed clothing to needy children.

Crazy about everything automotive since he was a little boy, Seigart was thinking about retiring to study diesel repair or even teaching vocational classes himself, his wife said.

Married for six years, the two hoped to buy a new car and drive from their home in Killeen, Texas, to San Luis Obispo after his unit's scheduled return in October. "We had so many plans," said Suzanne Seigart, 50, who has four grown children.

When Seigart's body arrived in Picayune, a town of 12,000 about 50 miles north of New Orleans, residents lined the streets and saluted as his funeral procession went by.

The same day, his wife received a Valentine's Day card he had sent her from Iraq. "He told me how much he loved me," she said. "He knew how much I loved him, and I knew how much he loved me. He was a wonderful, loving, humble man."

In addition to his wife and mother, he is survived by stepchildren Jessica Moeller, Jake Smith, Josh Smith and Sam Smith, all of Picayune.

Seigart was buried Feb. 22 at New Palestine Cemetery in Picayune.


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