Whether in Iraq, Waterville, N.Y., or the wind-swept Saratoga National Cemetery, those who knew and loved Army Cpl. John Patrick Sigsbee paused Friday to honor his sacrifice and celebrate his life.
Members of Army Cpl. John Patrick Sigsbee’s unit Friday morning patrolled the village where he carried out his final assignment.
They walked through Bichigan, a farm village in north-central Iraq, reflecting on their lost comrade, killed nine days earlier.
“John’s not there,” Brig. Gen. Todd Semonite told the hundreds gathered for Sigsbee’s funeral Friday at Waterville Central School. “John’s missing from that formation.
“But, just as John’s here with us today, John is watching over those soldiers, walking through Bichigan, Iraq.”
Whether in Iraq, Waterville, N.Y., or the wind-swept Saratoga National Cemetery, those who knew and loved Sigsbee paused Friday to honor his sacrifice and celebrate his life.
“John was doing something that he knew was important,” Waterville High School technology teacher Steve English said at the service. “After being injured, he could have chosen to be assigned anywhere. He chose Iraq.”
English described Sigsbee, who was 21, as a reliable friend who was a man of his word. Sigsbee received the Purple Heart for wounds he suffered in July 2006 and later insisted on returning to duty.
“He wanted to go back to Iraq with his friends,” English said. “That didn’t surprise me even a little bit.”
Sigsbee died a young Army specialist on Jan. 16 during combat in Bichigan. He was posthumously promoted to the rank of corporal, a rank Sigsbee had requested.
‘What an honor’
Cold gusts blew freshly fallen snow across fields outside Waterville as cars filled the school parking lot.
Flags lining the entrance to the high school whipped in the wind as mourners sank their faces deep into scarves and winter coats.
The auditorium was filled with Sigsbee’s family, friends, community members, former teachers and military comrades, their sense of loss etched on their faces.
His mother, Sue Sigsbee, spoke just feet from the soldier’s flag-draped casket.
“It was John’s wish to have his mom say something on this day,” she said. “What an honor.”
She spoke of how she drew her strength from all the days she imagined her son being at war: all the aching muscles, all the nights he missed meals, all the days he trudged forward, “never complaining, and I’m pretty assured there was a smile here and there, saying ‘this is my job and I’ll give it my best.’”
‘The eagle has landed’
Cpl. Sigsbee was a member of the 101st Airborne Division 32nd Cavalry Unit based in Fort Campbell, Ky., which is home of the “Screaming Eagles.”
One week before John died, Sue Sigsbee’s sister mentioned there was a bird flying near her home. She couldn’t tell what it was.
On the day John was killed, the bird flew close to her window and landed, Sue Sigsbee said.
“It was an eagle,” Sue Sigsbee said, “the bird that represents this great U.S.A., and it doesn’t get any finer than that.”
The mother checked her son’s cell phone this week to find some numbers. The picture on the phone’s background was an eagle. He listened to music by the Eagles.
“I would say the eagle has landed,” Sue Sigsbee said.
About Cpl. Sigsbee
- Cpl. John Sigsbee, 21, was born Aug. 3, 1986, in New Hartford, N.Y.
- After graduating from Waterville Central School in 2004, he attended Mohawk Valley Community College. In 2005, he joined the U.S. Army and was a member of the 101st Airborne Division 32nd Cavalry Unit.
- In 2006, Sigsbee was injured in a roadside bomb attack came home to recuperate. He also received a Purple Heart, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the Army Service Ribbon among other awards.
- He also was a member of the Helmuth-Ingalls American Legion Post #232, Franklin Springs, the VFW Post #9591, Clinton, and National Purple Heart Society.