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Lt. Col. Paul J. Finken, XO of 1/506th, RIP

By Michael Fumento

It slipped under my radar but Lt. Col. Paul J. Finken, the former Executive Officer (2nd-in-command) of 1/506th, 101st Airborne, was killed by an IED in Baghdad on Nov. 2. Also killed were Lt. Col. Eric J. Kruger and Staff Sgt. Joseph A. Gage. Finken, 40, was assigned to 506th Regimental Headquarters as the MiTT Chief (Military Transition Team, a unit devoted to training the Iraqi Army) in July 2005. He was just two weeks away from redeploying back to the States with the rest of 1/506th. He was one of the highest-ranking Americans killed in Iraq. Unfortunately I never met him, since he spent his time in Baghdad while I was with most of 1/506th in Ramadi. But you can learn much about him at a website dedicated to him posthumously.

According to Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Ron Clark: "Paul's efforts as our XO contributed directly to the success of our battalion in combat and saved the lives of our Soldiers in Ramadi. Paul was an outstanding officer and an even better husband and father." Adds Clark:

He is survived by his wife Jackie and 3 young daughters who miss him dearly. Paul and I were close personal friends as well as comrades in arms. We also shared a common bond as USMA graduates (Paul graduated in the Class of 89, while I graduated in 1988 with Paul's twin brother Pete). Paul served the 506th Regimental Combat Team, our Army, and our nation with distinction. He was a tremendous leader and a warrior who took care of Soldiers and their families. His loss has been tremendously hard on the members of our battalion staff and he will be missed by all whom he touched.

He was laid to rest near his family in Earling, Iowa.

A memorial trust has been established for his three children.
Farmer's Trust & Savings Bank
c/o Paul Finken Memorial
PO Box 285
Earling, IA 51530-0285
Or Call (712) 747-2000

Currahee! Lt. Col. Finken

December 26, 2006 01:59 PM  ·  Iraq ~ Military