One High School Class Bears Two War Losses

Staff Sgt. Damion Campbell, an alumnus of Baltimore, Md.'s Forest Park High School, was killed in a roadside bombing in Afghanistan last month. He was the second member of the school's class of 2000 to die in combat: Fellow ROTC member Toccara Green died just 12 days earlier in Iraq.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

In this country, some of the effects of war. Two classmates at Forest Park High School in Baltimore shared a love for the United States Army. Last month, both were killed while fighting separate wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Sarah Richards has this remembrance.

SARAH RICHARDS reporting:

Last week, staff and students returned to Forest Park High School and to terrible news. Two former students had died. Army Specialist Toccara Green was killed last month in Iraq. Twelve days later, Staff Sergeant Damion Campbell died while fighting in Afghanistan. Principal Loretta Breese is planning a memorial service for her two former students.

Ms. LORETTA BREESE (Principal, Forest Park High School): They were really outstanding and very unique people, and to find out, first of all, being so young, 23 years old, and then within two weeks of each other, that it's very hard.

RICHARDS: Every day, Green and Campbell spent 90 minutes together, dressed in their green military uniforms. They were in the same Junior ROTC class. They were both leaders of Forest Park High's famous drill team, a team that won the Baltimore championship four years in a row. Campbell's mother, Donna Robinson, remembers watching her son compete.

Ms. DONNA ROBINSON (Damion Campbell's Mother): I was so proud of him, you know, leading them, doing his thing, you know, twirling that gun and twirling--you know, he was great. Yeah.

RICHARDS: Toccara's father, Gary Green, used to chaperone the drill team at competitions. He traveled by bus with them from state to state. He served the kids juice and cakes.

Mr. GARY GREEN (Toccara Green's Father): They were so good and then they would not place first, then they started pouting. I mean, they done won all these trophies, you know, might come in second, third place, they were pout--because they were so spoiled because they're used to winning, you know.

RICHARDS: When Campbell and Green graduated in 2000, they went their separate ways. Green tried college and office work before joining the Army, but Campbell knew right away what he wanted to do and enlisted upon graduation. He was a medic with the 1st Battalion, 508th Infantry Regiment stationed in Italy. Donna Robinson.

Ms. ROBINSON: Yeah, I kind of hesitate because I know the Army, you know, life, what it entails ...(unintelligible) the wars and stuff, so I didn't want him to go, but he wanted to go, so I supported him.

RICHARDS: On August 26th, Staff Sergeant Campbell was killed when a roadside bomb exploded near his vehicle in Afghanistan. He died on the same day his old classmate, Army Specialist Green, was being buried in Arlington National Cemetery. She, too, had been killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq. Campbell was buried in Baltimore so that he could be close to his mother. For NPR News, I'm Sarah Richards.

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