Navy Counselor Laid to Rest at Arlington Cemetery

By Mark Berman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Navy Cmdr. Charles K. Springle had served for more than two decades before volunteering to go to Iraq to help counsel service members. He was allegedly killed by the kind of soldier he had sought to help.

Springle, 52, of Wilmington, N.C., was killed May 11 when a U.S. soldier opened fire inside a combat stress clinic at Camp Victory in Baghdad. Springle, a licensed clinical social worker with a doctorate in social work, was buried yesterday at Arlington National Cemetery.

He was a good man who "never met a stranger," said Bob Goodale, director of behavioral mental health for the Citizen Soldier Support Program based at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He worked with Springle when he volunteered with the program, traveling the state to train civilians, such as social workers and psychologists, to work with service members and their families.

Springle, director of the Community Counseling Center at Camp Lejeune, N.C., volunteered to go to Iraq, Goodale said.

"He knew that his work was very important, and he also knew that it was dangerous . . . in the theater," Goodale said. "It was in the combat zone, and that's where he wanted to be. He volunteered to go there. He felt that that's where he could be most effective."

At Arlington yesterday, the U.S. Navy Band, a sea of crisp white dress uniforms, led more than 100 mourners down Marshall Drive to York Drive. The slow, steady drumbeat of the band accompanied them, the only noise audible besides the clop-clopping of the horses pulling the caisson.

Family and friends gathered in the shade of the willow oaks lining York Drive before emerging into Section 60, following the wooden box containing Springle's cremated remains. Members of the motorcycle-riding Patriot Guard Riders stood watch behind them.

The sun, which had peeked out during the service, disappeared behind a massive cloud just before flags were presented to Springle's family members, including his wife, Susan; his daughter, Sarah Monday; and his son, Cpl. Charles K. Springle Jr.

Family members received words of consolation from, among others, Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Springle was the 460th casualty from Iraq buried at Arlington.

Army Sgt. John M. Russell, 44, of Sherman, Tex., has been charged in the killing, which is under investigation. Four other service members were also killed: Maj. Matthew P. Houseal, 54, of Amarillo, Tex.; Staff Sgt. Christian E. Bueno-Galdos, 25, of Paterson, N.J.; Spc. Jacob D. Barton, 20, of Lenox, Mo.; and Pfc. Michael E. Yates Jr., 19, of Federalsburg, Md.

Springle and Houseal were assigned to the 55th Medical Company, based in Indianapolis. Bueno-Galdos and Yates were assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, 172nd Infantry Brigade, based at Grafenwoehr, Germany. Barton was assigned to the 277th Engineer Company, 420th Engineer Brigade, based at Waco, Tex.

Springle's cousin, Alton Dudley, talked to the Associated Press last month about Springle growing up in the fishing village of Lewiston, N.C.

"It was a carefree life," Dudley said. "I am sure that he joined the Navy so that he could be at sea or close to it."

According to the University of North Carolina's School of Social Work, Springle received two degrees from the university: a bachelor's degree in sociology in 1979 and a master's degree in social work in 1984. He also received a doctorate in social work in 2003 from the University of Alabama.

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