US Army SFC Keith "Bam-Bam" Callahan - Paratrooper, Sergeant, Husband, Father, "The Best We Ever Had"
Monday, February 12, 2007
“Keith loved his soldiers, and his dedication to duty lasted to the end. He gave his life to protect his soldiers. He would now want his soldiers to bravely forge ahead in his mission and continue his legacy.” - Dody Callahan
Sergeant First Class Keith A. Callahan, a two time Ft. Bragg boxing champ known as "Bam-Bam" Callahan, was leading his platoon at an intersection just south of Baghdad on January 24th. SFC Callahan was one of the most experienced and respected Paratroopers around - four combat tours in Iraq and wounded once. Ranger qualified, too. At that time on the 24th, he grew concerned with his platoon's exposure at the intersection and decided to take an overwatch position to personally keep an eye on his paratroopers.
That's when the IED went off and killed the 31 year old Sergeant of Paratroopers.
Keith Callahan grew up in Woburn, MA, and graduated from High School in 1993. Five feet five inches tall and 135 pounds, Callahan was known for being tough, but also for being a team player. He became a Golden Gloves boxer in Boston and worked a few jobs before he enlisted in the Army in 1996. In order to join the the 82nd Airborne Division, he completed Airborne School in 2001. I believe that he met his wife in Airborne School.
He is survived by his wife, Dody; sons, Devin and Brady; his daughter, Brooke; and a stepson, Tyler. The family has set up a fund for Callahan’s children. Contributions can be sent to
The Children of Keith Callahan Educational Fund
c/o Sovereign Bank
19 Pleasant St.
Woburn, MA 01801
More here from the Boston Herald. And here is a story about how SFC Callahn called cadence in a Joe Pesci voice (and kept it clean).
The Paratroopers in Iraq held a memorial (600 attended) and named their new Combat Outpost (COP) after SFC Callahan. On the day of the memorial in Woburn, the streets were filled with people and the Patriot Guard Riders attended the memorial in Pennsylvania where the Callahans lived for a time.
I'll post a story about how the COP is coming together after the Jump.
Godspeed, SFC Callahan.
There Goes the Neighborhood: Airborne Sets Up Shop in Adhamiyah
Story by Sgt. Michael Pryor
Posted on 02.09.2007 at 08:04am
BAGHDAD – The 82nd Airborne Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team established a combat outpost in the heart of Baghdad this week in an effort to reduce sectarian violence in the Iraqi capital and assist the Iraqi security forces to take control of the city.
Paratroopers from the 2nd BCT’s 2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment will be living, working, and conducting operations out of the newly-established Combat Outpost (COP) Callahan, located in Baghdad’s Adhamiyah district.
“Living in this neighborhood means we can maintain a constant presence. We’re not going home at night. We’re here 24/7,” said 1st Lt. David Bopp, of Boulder, Colo., a platoon leader with Company C, 2nd Bn., 325th AIR.
Until recently, COP Callahan was nothing more than the skeletal remains of what had once been a busy shopping mall. But in the early morning hours of Feb. 7, following dozens of precision-targeted raids in the area by the 2nd Infantry Division’s 3rd Stryker BCT, the 2nd Bn. “White Falcons” moved in and occupied the building.
Since then, COP Callahan has been a whirlwind of activity. At any given hour, paratroopers are busy stringing concertina wire, sawing and hammering lumber, and stacking sandbags to ensure maximum force protection. Outside, cranes and forklifts move heavy concrete barriers into place along the perimeter, staying mindful of occasional sniper fire. As all this is going on, patrols constantly move in and out to meet the local population.
For the people of Adhamiyah, not accustomed to seeing a coalition presence in their neighborhoods, the sight of paratroopers walking the streets and getting to know the locals is a novelty.
“Being dismounted is the key to winning this fight, in my opinion,” said Bopp. “You can’t interact with someone behind a window of glass.”
Because of the face-to-face contact they invite, foot patrols are the White Falcons’ most effective intelligence-gathering tool. Information also gives the paratroopers an understanding of the issues and problems in the community. By acting on both kinds of information and producing tangible results, the White Falcons hope to win the locals over to their side.
The success of the plan will depend largely on the abilities of noncommissioned officers like Sgt. Patrick Ireland, a squad leader with Co. B, 2nd Bn., 325th AIR. When he leaves the COP, Ireland has to be a soldier, a policeman, a diplomat and a traveling salesman - sometimes all at once.
On one recent patrol, Ireland set out to introduce himself to his new neighbors. He spent the next five hours going door-to-door, collecting business cards, sipping tea, asking polite questions and painstakingly trying to piece scraps of information together to form a complete picture of the area.
“Right now, it’s just matching a name with a face, but I guarantee we’re going to know these people really, really well by the end of this deployment,” Ireland said.