The first U.S. casualty of war was from Chester

Posted at 11:40 PM, Jan 16, 2013
and last updated 2013-01-17 11:26:39-05

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) - Country, courage, commitment.  Three words  Sgt. Aaron Wittman based a successful Army career on before his death. 

The Chester soldier came from a family of military members past and present, including three Citadel graduates.  He is the first American casualty of war in 2013.

"He was a great brother, a wonderful son," said his mother Carol Wittman.

Chesterfield County's Wittman had been there before; he was on his second tour in Afghanistan.

It is said he was a hard-charging infantry sergeant, who vowed to never leave a brother behind.  “He was going to do what he needed to do period," said Wittman.

Wittman's unit was attacked by small arms fire while on mounted patrol last week.  And while several suffered injuries, he was the only soldier that didn't survive.

He came from a proud family of patriots: his brother Nick, a Marine Corps captain at Quantico; his sister, a Navy veteran; and a dad that still does work for the Department of the Army.

Aaron had plenty of folks to look up to, but opted for an enlisted path of his own.  “He was in the National Guard and had an option to stay in school, but he and his buddies went with the unit," said his mother.

That was prior to Wittman's first tour in Afghanistan.  The first go-around, his dad says was a hard tour.  Aaron' s good friend nearly died.

After returning home, he graduated from the Citadel.

Aaron adopted a dog named Midnight.  His mom says the Carolina hound-pit mix really helped her son get reacquainted with life away from the battlefield. 

"Midnight was his saving grace,” she said.  “He loved that dog."

Midnight now lives with Aaron's girlfriend at Fort Carson, Colorado

The 28-year-old Sgt. will be laid to rest with honors at Arlington National Cemetery.