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Family, friends recall courageous soldier, jokester

An Honor Guard lines the outside of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Meville Road in Cheney on Saturday June 4, 2011 for the memorial service of Sgt. 1st Class Clifford Beattie, who was killed in action in Iraq last month. Beattie was from Medical Lake. (Christopher Anderson)
An Honor Guard lines the outside of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Meville Road in Cheney on Saturday June 4, 2011 for the memorial service of Sgt. 1st Class Clifford Beattie, who was killed in action in Iraq last month. Beattie was from Medical Lake. (Christopher Anderson)

Army Sgt. 1st Class Clifford E. Beattie was remembered Saturday morning as a leader dedicated to serving his family and his country, a courageous man and an avid fisherman who had an infectious smile and, often, a joke up his sleeve.

Family members, friends and fellow service members filled The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Melville Road in Cheney to honor and remember Beattie, 37, of Medical Lake, who was killed in action by an improvised explosive device May 22 near Baghdad.

“Our hearts are full of sorrow, and it’s comforting to know that, although on Earth we lost a kind and courageous man, heaven has gained a leader,” said Beattie’s grandmother, Florene Beattie. “It is comforting to know that many of you know Cliff as a courageous soldier, but he was also a caring husband. We know he was a brother that defended his sisters and a father that loved his children unconditionally.”

Beattie was an infantry platoon sergeant and had served more than 17 years in the Army, including three tours in Iraq.

A 1992 graduate of Medical Lake High School, Beattie was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart, the Iraq Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal. Beattie’s family also was presented with Gold Star Lapel Buttons to identify them as family members of a fallen soldier.

“No man, no soldier, no leader better exemplified our values,” Brig. Gen. Randal Dragon said during the service. “They were the things he embodied every day. This world was a better place because of him. He epitomizes the best of America.”

Dragon said Beattie was “the ultimate team player” and will be missed by his Army family.

“We have been blessed to know him,” he said. “There will never be a passing day where we don’t think of you and your sacrifice.”

At times during the memorial, the mood was somber. But at other times, the room was filled with laughter as Beattie’s friends and family shared anecdotes the highlighted Beattie’s sense of humor.

“My dad was an energetic, funny person,” said Jaydean Hamilton, Beattie’s daughter, who will graduate this spring from high school. “Any of you who know him, he’d be up here sticking his tongue out at us.”

He was serious, though, about taking care of his family, Hamilton said.

“He’s now fighting in God’s army and we all know he’s in a safe place. My dad would be so happy to see the turnout and know there’s all these people here to support him,” she said.

Florene Beattie shared stories on behalf of Beattie’s three sisters. One recalled a time when Beattie’s sister Jamie Coon got into the clothes dryer for a spin at Beattie’s suggestion. She survived unscathed, only to later be used as a moving target while Beattie practiced his aim throwing darts, a stunt that ended with a visit to the emergency room.

Another sister, Misty Carson, got into a fight with a boy on the school bus and the boy hit her in the face. Beattie got into some trouble at school for punching the boy – while Beattie was always teasing his sisters, he was always there to protect them, too, said his grandmother.

“No one touches his sisters,” she said.

She said his friends and family can find comfort in knowing that Beattie is waiting for them in heaven – probably with a fishing pole in hand.

“We know that he is looking down on us, letting us know that he is OK,” she said. “He found fun in everything he did. Let us remember his smile, his humor, his contagious laughter and the comforting voice he always had.”

Beattie, who was born on Jan. 3, 1974, in Tempe, Arizona, was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 63rd Armor, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division based out of Fort Riley, Kan. During his military career he was assigned to Fort Benning, Fort Drum, Fort Wainwright, Fort Lewis, Fort Leonard Wood, and Fort Riley.

He was deployed to Haiti to support Operation Uphold Democracy; Sinai, Egypt, in support of a mission to facilitate the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt; Mosul and Ad Dujayl, Iraq, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom; and, finally, Baghdad, to support Operation New Dawn.

He is survived by his wife of two years, Karen Beattie, his children, Jaydean Hamilton and Dale Beattie, his sisters, Misty Carson, Anna Beattie, Jamie and brother-in-law Kenneth Coon , his parents, Victor and Rhonda Beattie, and his grandmother, Florene Beattie.

“He was a brat,” his grandmother said with endearment, “and he never got out of being a brat.

“But he is loved.”

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