I met SSG. Orion Sparks when he was, PVT. Sparks, stationed in Baumholder, Germany. He was a member of the 1-35 AR, HHC Scout Platoon. When I first met him, he was this big tall guy, who towered over most of the other soldiers. When the Scouts introduced him to me, I could tell that he would be a great soldier. He had a watchful eye and was very gifted at listening to what was being said. Later, he became a good friend along with the rest of Scout platoon.
I nicked named him Bubba Sparks because there was a rap artist who used the same name but I had thought it fit Orion much better. I called him Bubba because he had a country demeanor. He said “Yes sir, No sir, Yes mam, No mam.” My parents raised me to say the same things. So instantly, I had respect for this very young man who was wearing a soldiers uniform.
Everyone he talked to seemed to always be at ease. He also had a way of making you feel, that when he was listening to you, you had his full and complete attention. I think that's why people liked him so much. He was genuinely interested in what you had to say. He also had a way of making people realize that things aren't as bad as they seem. He had a very clear mind and a great sense of humor.
I also had the honor of seeing first hand Bubba standing up for what he believed. I was able to watch him stand up for the little guy. Unfortunately for Sparks, that was most of the people around him. He loved his family, he loved his platoon, he loved his brothers at arms and he loved America.
That was the soldier that I knew.
Once the uniform came off and the civilian clothes were put on, he was Orion Sparks. A happy go lucky kid who loved to go snowboarding and everything else that packed an adrenaline punch. After I got back from Iraq back in 2004, I stayed in Baumholder and worked at the pool and the Education Center. While at the pool I had the chance to work with the MWR Outdoor Recreation Center. Bubba was a no stranger to them. I had the wonderful opportunity to drive him and other soldiers to go snowboarding in Austria and Switzerland. That was where I could see the cheesiest smile on his face. Like a kid that just got a new bike for Christmas. When he saw those ski slopes, his face would light up with a huge smile that would make his eyes almost disappear into a wrinkle. Then he would put his arm around a friend and say “Yeah Man, that's what I'm talking about.” while he pointed at the mountains. I was glad to be that friend.
Orion, I am glad that I got to know you. I am honored to have served with you. You will be remembered not as some unknown soldier in a far off place but as my friend and you will live in my memory forever. Thank you for your service and thank you for being a friend.
May in death you find the endless powdery trail to snowboard into eternity. Rest In Peace My Friend.
To the Sparks family, please know that you raised a wonderful young man that you could be very proud of. He served his country honorably and was a great friend to whoever he met. I know nothing in this world can be said to bring him back but I hope that maybe something I or somebody else has said will bring you some kind of comfort to know that your boy was a man of courage, honor, and respect. Bless you, my prayers go out to all of you.
SGT Scott Burton HHC 1-35AR 2001-2004