The Advocate,0,6444582.story?page=1&coll=nor-news-local-headlines

Eulogy for a soldier: Comrades in arms remember fallen brother

September 10, 2006

It has often been said that the fog of war obscures the physical battleground between opponents. But there is probably no other human endeavor that more clearly focuses troops on the measure of a person fighting next to them.

With the help of U.S. Army Capt. Brad Caton, adjutant for the 4th Infantry Division in Iraq, The Advocate is publishing remembrances of Wilton Pfc. Nicholas Madaras by a dozen soldiers who served with him before a roadside bomb claimed his life one week ago.

To this band of brothers still in Iraq, who called themselves the Hooligans, Madaras, 19, was a soldier who knew how to lighten a mood and when to be serious.

The 2005 Wilton High School graduate, who arrived in Iraq in February and was scheduled to come back to the United States in October, had a "can-do attitude" on the battlefield, was a dependable soldier and took pride in his work.

Even though the soldiers met on a real battlefield in Iraq, the group in their off time enjoyed playing "Halo," a futuristic combat video game that usually ended with Madaras' cyber warrior standing to the last.

The soldiers said Madaras, who drove a Humvee as part of a security detail for his battalion commander north of Baghdad in the Diyala province, deeply touched each of their lives.

-- John Nickerson

Nick was more like a brother than a fellow soldier. . . . I spent just about every hour I was awake with him. . . . If you wanted to find me you had to find him and I was right there. We were always talking, joking, smoking cigars, watching movies or playing video games together. We were closer than I am to my real family. . . . Nick really was and will always be my brother. He always could make you laugh, even when you didn't want to. He was such a great man and the world is at a huge loss not having him. I know part of me is gone because he was such a huge influence on me and a great soldier and outstanding person. I am proud to say that I got the privilege of having him in my life.

Pfc. Joshua Dailey

Pfc. Nick Madaras was a "go to" kind of guy. . . . He was the funny guy. He didn't even mean to be, it's just how his mind worked. The first time our truck was hit with an IED, I checked them for a "I'm good, sergeant" to see if they were injured. . . . He looks at me from his driver's seat and said "Boy, that sucked" in a monotone voice. I couldn't help but laugh. When it was our maintenance day . . . he would say "I got this sergeant." I would go down a little later and check on them only to see them driving back finished. I'd inspect their work, it was standard or above every time. He was a damn good soldier. He had initiative, pride, teamwork, but most of all he had loyalty. Madaras always said it was the most important thing a man can have; loyalty to his team known as the "Hooligans," and loyalty to his country. I will miss our 20:30 (8:30 p.m.) "tribal time" when we would smoke cigars. I will miss his smile. I will miss his can-do attitude. I will miss him finding a way to make me laugh. I will miss Nick and all that he was.

Sgt. Brendan McCullagh

Madaras was a friend to everyone. He knew when to be serious and really knew when not to be. He had this dry sense of humor that was just hilarious. I think my favorite thing to do with him was sit around for hours and smoke cigars. We would talk about things we couldn't wait to do when we got home. I remember one day at the motor pool he had his mind set on buying a Mustang. Sgt. Colon had this huge conversation about Mustangs and a truck, by the end of it Sgt. Colon had talked him into buying a truck. It was a good time.

Spc. Eric Cobb

Madaras and I used to talk about a lot of things about home. He used to tell me about his family and friends, and a lot about how he was. There were several moments when we would just laugh and joke, but it is not easy to pinpoint just one moment. I'll miss him and our times of joking and talking.

Spc. Christopher Stice

Madaras was a good friend. We used to sit down and talk about what kind of car he should get. . . . I remember looking at rims and him pointing out this one set and would laugh about how people would laugh at you for even buying them. It seemed like we would go on laughing for hours. We never had a dull moment together. He was a good friend and I will miss all our talks.

Sgt. Forrest Sullivan

I remember Madaras as being one of the guys who would make you laugh in any situation. . . . I used to always love to play "Halo," the video game, with him because he was the best and he always beat me. And I would tell him that one day I would beat him and he would just laugh and say, "OK."

Pfc. William Tyrrell

Madaras was such a character. I remember when he first came to the P.S.D (platoon) he was quiet and kept to himself and just smoked cigars. Once he came around and got used to everyone I realized he was not quiet at all. In the most serious conversations he would just come up with the most off-the-wall thing to say and we would just start cracking up. . . . Every time someone lights up a cigar I will think of Pfc. Madaras and the way he lightened up my life and always told me, "Moore, quit being so serious."

Cpl. Andrea Moore

I would walk to his room just to talk, he would be outside smoking his cigar. He'd see me coming and put his cigar down knowing that I couldn't stand the smell. I would tell him to go ahead and smoke his cigar, he would just smile and say, "no that's fine Sgt. Colona. Talking to you is more important."

Sgt. Nathan Colona

I found these cheap cigars in the PX (post exchange) that I used to smoke before I joined the Army. I knew that he loved cigars and asked him to try one. About halfway through it I asked him what he thought. With no emotion or expression on his face he said, "oh, it's delicious." I am really going to miss our times smoking those cheap cigars.

Sgt. Michael Rosner

The one thing I will never forget about Madaras is his million-dollar smile. His light mood and laugh were contagious as well. He just always seemed to snap me out of it when I'd get pissed about dumb stuff. I know everyone feels the same.

Pfc. Marjorie Whetstone

Madaras was all about business; always had a serious face, and was always an outstanding soldier with a terrific work ethic. Madaras at times would become frustrated, sometimes upset if you would try to take the wrench that he was tightening down a tire with, or the ANCD (automated net control device) that he would be using to fill a radio. Pfc. Madaras was an outstanding soldier who performed awesome on a daily basis. A day will never go by in which I don't stop and think about the soldier I led in Iraq.

Staff Sgt. Daniel S. Ritchie

Pfc. Madaras was a great guy and a dependable soldier. It seemed like every time I tried to help him with something, even the smallest things, he would say "no that's all right, I got this." He was a guy that had that commanding presence that made you like him. . . . He had big plans for the future that I know he would have accomplished and I lack the words to really express all of our regret at the loss of him. . . . He was a selfless person and I am thankful that I have been blessed with the opportunity to have known him.

Sgt. Eric Peterson
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