A Tribute to Staff Sgt. Nicholas Fredsti: 'We Lost One of the Best'
By U.S. Army Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod, Task Force 1-82 PAO
FORWARD OPERATING BASE WARRIOR, Afghanistan – He fancied cheese fries, Red Bulls and old Stallone movies, but when 82nd Airborne Division paratrooper Staff Sgt. Nicholas Fredsti went to war, he was all business.
“He was an all around good guy and always joking, but when it came to work, he was hard on that too. Led from the front. He was a hero,” said Sgt. Joshua Bracey, one of his team leaders.
On June 15, 2012, Fredsti’s platoon was ambushed by insurgents in southern Ghazni Province, Afghanistan. As a squad leader with Company D, 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, Fredsti responded instinctively by moving his squad to high ground to lay down a base of fire.
Fredsti was struck in the chest by a single bullet, and while he survived the engagement, he succumbed to his wound shortly after being medically evacuated from the battlefield.
His platoon leader, 1st Lt. Matthew Archuleta said that his platoon was heavily outgunned when the firefight began that day on the outskirts of Spedar, a small village just south of the Tarnak River.
“Fredsti and his squad stormed up as he directed fire. He took one round through the shoulder into the chest and continued to direct his men even on the ground,” said Archuleta.
The platoon leader said that having noncommissioned officers like Fredsti is what makes the U.S. Army the greatest in the world.
“Every subordinate looks to their leader, reacts and mimics whatever he or she does, and for him to charge up like that and to lead his men, it gave them the courage to do the same thing and to get things done,” he said
Sgt. Jonathan Daeuber, Fredsti’s other team leader, said that Fredsti was a quiet professional.
“We lost one of the best squad leaders I’ve seen in the Army,” said Daeuber. “We lost a close friend.”
Originally from San Diego, Calif., Fredsti arrived at Fort Bragg, N.C., as a newly minted infantryman six months before 9/11. He was assigned to his current unit’s sister battalion, 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment.
Since then, he has deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan three times each for a total of 51 months overseas.
His roommate, Staff Sgt. Jonathan Davis, said that Fredsti’s reserved personality sometimes gave the impression of an outcast, but that was a mis-read on who he was.
“When I was little, my dad used to tell me, the true measure of a man is the ability to do what you know in your heart to be right no matter the cost, and I think that’s something everyone strives for, but for Nick, it was easy,” said Davis.
Davis said that Fredsti seemed to lack that need to fit in and kept to his principles regardless of whether it made him acceptable or popular
“The only thing Nick really cared about apart from the Army and his men was his fiancé, Cassie Wheatley, and her daughter,” said Davis.
“He was always the nicest, most dependable, most trustworthy person you could count on,” he said. “He was a great, great friend. That’s the real Nick.”
Fredsti is survived by his mother Sherry, his father Carl, his sister Sarah, and his fiancé Cassie.