Every classroom the world over has its class clown. It doesn’t matter if it’s high school, college, technical school, or the military. In 2007, at the U.S. Army’s basic training and advanced infantry school at Fort Benning, Georgia, Pfc. Cody Eggleston was our class clown.
It was easy to think of Eggleston as annoying at first, because his antics often came at times when we were supposed to be observing total silence. When a drill instructor would overhear his little jokes and chuckles, or the laughter he’d garnered from others, it was time for everyone to assume the front leaning rest position and start pushing!
However, you could never stay angry at Cody, in spite of all the extra pushups he earned for our platoon. He was too nice of a guy to bear ill will toward for too long, and frankly, he’d just end up making you laugh again, and you’d forget you’d ever been mad at him.
After graduating from Fort Benning, Cody was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25’th Infantry Division at Fort Wainwright, Alaska. He later deployed to Iraq and sustained fatal injuries in an indirect fire incident on 16 October, 2008 near Baqubah, Iraq. Cody was flown home and died with his wife Karie by his side at a hospital in Spartanburg, South Carolina a couple of days later.
I still remember hearing of Cody’s death shortly after it happened. I was serving in a different part of Iraq at the time, Mosul, and all these years later it still seems unreal.
In my mind’s eye, I can still see him smiling, and I can still hear him laughing in my memories. And every time I do, I can’t help but smile and laugh myself.
Kevin E Lake is an Iraq War Veteran and author. His book “Off Switch” was written to raise awareness of the veteran suicide epidemic in the U.S. and can be purchased on Amazon at: