Ian Manuel: "A
Life Worth Living" 1980 - 2004
On the bitterly cold and windy morning of January 23,
2004, the remains of U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 lan Desmond Manuel, 23, were laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery
with full military honors...mission accomplished.
On January 8th 2004, while on a medical evacuation mission
over Fallujah, Iraq, lan's Blackhawk helicopter was shot down by an insurgent's missile.
lan wanted to make a positive difference in the lives
of others. This noble cause was to serve as the hallmark of his young life.
Born November 1, 1980, in Honolulu, Hawaii, the son
of a career Navy Chief Petty Officer, and an immigrant Filipino mother, lan had lived the life of a typical child born into
a military lifestyle of serving others. Not only had his father honorably served in the military, but his grandfather had
also served his country in the Army Air Corps as a pilot during World War II.
His remains are also interred in Arlington National
Cemetery, more affectionately called the "Field of Honor." lan wanted to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather as a pilot
defending his countrymen and others against aggression.
lan moved to Florida as a pre-teen shortly after his
father retired from the Navy, and grew up doing the things boys like doing such as hunting, fishing, playing golf (his passion),
volleyball, and the drums in his high school band. He worked part-time at a fast food restaurant in a mall so he could afford
his first car and the insurance. After graduating high school, lan held jobs at a major grocery chain's food distribution
warehouse, a local golf course, and eventually at a mortgage bank where his leadership skills blossomed. His supervisor promoted
him to file room supervisor at the tender age of 19 where he was responsible for leading others.
lan's co-worker at the bank knew someone who had flown
jets for the Navy, and planted a seed of vision into lan. The quiet and unassuming lan was intrigued by the idea of possibly
flying as well. His vision enlarged, he inquired into various military programs that would allow him to fulfill his dream
of taking to the air.
Later, lan found himself in Army flight school, Fort Rucker, Alabama, after completing
bootcamp at Fort Leonardwood, Missouri, and after graduating warrant officer school. Approximately a year after flight school
commenced, he graduated, the youngest student in his class to earn his wings just weeks shy of his 21st birthday. In an unselfish
gesture, lan attempted to take one of the unaccompanied assignments overseas in place of his classmates who were married.
The Army had different plans for lan.
After graduating flight school, lan wisely chose the
Blackhawk helicopter as his preferred platform because he concluded he would fly a lot. Like many aviators, he wanted to be
in the air as much as possible. And fly a lot, he did. First assignment: Fort Carson, Colorado as a part of 571st Air Medical
Company, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment. His continued flight training took him on frequent flight training missions to Fort
Bliss, Texas, and on rescue missions across Colorado resulting from car accidents and other emergencies. lan was well practiced
in saving lives in the states long before he began saving them in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
In the Spring of 2003, twenty-two year-old lan began
flying medical evacuation missions in western Iraq, based out of a train station in the city of AI Qaim, near the Iraqi/Syrian
border. While there, he saved the lives of many troops and was honored with his first Air Medal (with "valor" device) for
demonstrating courage and superior aviation skills while under fire.
In December 2003, lan was ordered east to Fallujah,
Iraq, a hotbed of insurgency, and where various coalition units were meeting heavy enemy resistance. As a result, the pace
of lan's medical evacuation missions increased, and so did the number of lives he was able to save. lan heroically and unselfishly
gave his own life in the ultimate sacrifice for others. "To Save A Life" is the motto of 571st Medical Company. lan lived
this motto to the utmost.
Strewn throughout this testimonial of lan's young life
are the themes of "service" and "honor." Oh, that the lives of America's youth and young men and women, and all of our lives
for that matter, also would be defined by these descriptive, character-reflecting words.
lan served a higher cause, the noble cause that was beyond self. The vision of
his humble life was beyond his own. And...that is a life worth living.
Junior E. "J.R." Derrow, lan's Friend and Stepfather February 13, 2005