Mark Stubenhofer was the consummate team player and a dedicated friend and father, according to those who remember him from West Springfield High School.
Stubenhofer, a 30-year-old captain in the U.S. Army, was killed on Dec. 7, in Iraq as his mechanized infantry unit was attacked by insurgents outside its vehicles in Baghdad.
His extended family, along with wife Patty Stubenhofer and children Lauren, 5, Justin, 2, and Hope, 4 months, attended a ceremony in Kansas before returning to Virginia for services tomorrow at Arlington National Cemetery.
"Mark was one of those kids who was very unselfish and would put the team ahead of his personal goals. You don't find that very often," said Ron Tugwell, who coached varsity baseball at West Springfield High until retirement in 2000. Stubenhofer, who graduated in 1992, was a utility infielder on the Spartans' state championship team in 1991, and the state semifinalist in 1992. Tugwell remembered Stubenhofer as a valuable part of those teams.
"He had quiet leadership skills. When you get into teams with a lot of high-profile-type kids, he wasn't one of those, but he was a kid who complemented those kids," said Tugwell.
Stubenhofer entered the U.S. Army through an ROTC program at Clemson University. After graduation, he married Patty. They were wed in two ceremonies, one in her hometown of Roanoke and one in Springfield.
"He was a dedicated father and really believed in what he was doing. That's why he was over there, in the position he was in," said Beth Roop, a math teacher at West Springfield, who attended Stubenhofer's wedding and remained a close friend of his family.
While in the Army, Stubenhofer was certified as an Army Ranger and was a jump instructor. He earned a Bronze Star during his first tour of duty in Iraq in 2003, then returned for a second tour in June. During that time, Stubenhofer was promoted to company commander.
He had three children, the most recent of whom was born after Stubenhofer departed Fort Riley in Kansas, where he was most recently stationed.
"He was always interested in helping others," said Roop.
While a student at West Springfield, Stubenhofer was the student government vice president and a member of the Homecoming Court.
"This is the first young man I've been that close to who has died in the war," said Tugwell. "It really hits home."