WASHINGTON – Pvt. Bryan “Nick” Spry had survived a sniper attack and a roadside bomb blast in Iraq in recent weeks, but the Chestertown 19-year-old was killed Friday when his Humvee plunged into a ravine in Baghdad.
Spry was the seventh soldier from Maryland to die in Iraq — and the second confirmed death from the Eastern Shore in two days.
A day after Spry’s death, authorities recovered the body of Lt. Adam G. Mooney, 28, a Cambridge native who had been missing since Jan. 25. Mooney, whose Army helicopter crashed into the Tigris River during a search-and-rescue mission that also killed his copilot, was pulled from the river in Mosul on Saturday.
Spry, a private in the Army’s 82nd Airborne in Baghdad, was killed while driving the lead Humvee in a convoy over an improvised bridge. The bridge collapsed, plunging Spry and three other soldiers into the water below.
The other soldiers swam to safety, but the chinstrap from Spry’s helmet caught on the turn signal of the Humvee and he drowned, said his mother, Beverly Fabri of Chestertown.
Fabri recalled how her son went through telephone calling cards, phoning home from Iraq at least three times a week. In the weeks before he was killed, he told her often of the harrowing daily assaults he faced.
Two weeks ago, she said, he told her his flak jacket stopped a sniper’s bullet, leaving only a dark bruise. A few days later, a roadside bomb went off 20 feet from his Humvee, injuring soldiers from his company and leaving Spry with a concussion and a destroyed helmet.
But despite the danger and the close calls, Fabri said Iraq was where her son wanted to be.
“I asked him not long ago if he was sorry he joined. If he was scared. If he wanted to come home,” she said.
Fabri recalled her son saying, “‘No Mom, I’m proud of what I’m doing here.'”
Spry joined the Army at the end of June, after graduating from Kent County Senior High School, where he met Army recruiters for the first time in the lunch room.
He did not know what to do with his life after school, his mother said. But by the time he finished training at Fort Benning in Georgia, he had decided to make a career out of the Army. He loved the idea of being a member of the elite Airborne division, she said.
Fabri said that when he called from Iraq, her son always asked if there was anything about him in the newspaper. “He wanted everybody to know what he was doing,” she said.
In Chestertown, Spry was known as a ballplayer, said Jon Baker, a Kent County Senior High School spokesman, who said the school’s baseball team will honor Spry on their uniforms this season.
In addition to his mother, Spry is survived by his step-father Norman Fabri; a brother, Michael Spry; a step-mother, Nedra Spry; step-brother Evan Fabri and step-sister Kiley Slagle.
Mooney’s family could not be reached Tuesday. But published reports have said he is survived by his wife, Katie, who is staying with family in Conway, Ark.; his father, B. Patrick Mooney, of Cambridge; and his mother, Wyoma McCray, of Martinsburg, W.Va.
In Cambridge, the commander of the local Veterans of Foreign Wars post said the discovery of Mooney’s body came as a shock to the town, which has been decked in yellow ribbons and American flags for the last three weeks and anxious for good news.
“This is a very close community,” said John Dickerson, of VFW Post 7460 in Cambridge. “There wasn’t much hope, but still we were praying for him to come home safe.”
-30- CNS 02-17-04