Soldier from NH killed in Florida car crashBy DOUG ALDEN
New Hampshire Union Leader
September 24. 2017 9:49PM
SANDOWN — Memorial services are scheduled this week for a U.S. Army Special Forces soldier killed in a Florida car crash.
Specialist Robert L. Gagnon Jr., 25, was westbound on Interstate 10 near Panama City when a car headed in the wrong direction struck him head-on late the night of Sept. 17, the Florida Highway Patrol said in a news release.
Gagnon, who was born in Exeter and grew up in Sandown, was pronounced dead at the scene after his 2014 Chevrolet Camaro was struck by a Honda Accord headed east in the westbound lanes on Interstate 10 around 10:45 p.m., police said. Both drivers were killed.
Gagnon, who joined the Army in 2013, was assigned to the 7th Special Forces Group at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida for the Airborne Maritime Operations Training Detachment, according to a news release.
“It was an honor having Robert serve within the ranks of 7th Special Forces Group. He was a part of our family and will not be forgotten,” said Col. Patrick T. Colloton, commander of the 7th Special Forces Group. “Our focus now is to provide the best care and support possible to Specialist Gagnon’s family and loved ones. I ask that you please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.”
Gagnon was decorated with awards including the U.S. Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Army Parachutist Badge and Army Marksman Badge.
According to his obituary, Gagnon grew up in Sandown and was a 2010 graduate of Timberlane Regional High School. Gagnon worked for a few years at an auto parts warehouse in Raymond before enlisting in the Army and completing basic training at Fort Jackson in South Carolina.
He completed Airborne school at Fort Benning, Ga., and was assigned to Eglin Air Force Base, where he maintained a fleet of Zodiac small watercraft and motors for the entire 7th Special Forces, according to the Airborne news release. His obituary said his five-year enlistment was scheduled to end in May 2018, and he was planning to get married to his fiancee, Kristen Petzold, an equestrian trainer.
“Robby J greatly enjoyed helping her prepare for equine competitions and cross-fit exercising with her,” according to the obituary. Gagnon also competed in Spartan and Tough Mudder races with Kristen.
Calling hours are scheduled for Tuesday from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Raymond Baptist Church in Raymond, where funeral services with military honors are planned for 1 p.m. on Wednesday.
Gagnon’s family asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in his memory to the Beauty’s Haven Farm and Equine Rescue, P.O. Box 53, Morriston, Fla., 32668.