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Honoring a hero

Tue., July 3, 2012

Family, friends gather to celebrate bravery of fallen soldier

To those who knew him, U.S. Army Spc. Jarrod Lallier is a hero.

He was a son, brother, nephew, cousin and friend, among many things. Lallier, 20, was also a dedicated soldier, and knew from a young age that serving his country was his calling. He lived for his country and he died for his country, according to those he left behind.

A memorial was held Monday for Lallier, who served in the 82nd Airborne Division and was killed in action in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, on Father’s Day, June 17.

Before he deployed overseas, Lallier left a letter in care of his uncle in case he didn’t come back alive. Lallier’s older sister, Jessica, read the letter with Lallier’s younger brother, Jordan, at her side.

“All of you have been more than a blessing in my life and I thank God every day for you guys,” Lallier wrote. “Know that I love you guys with all my heart and I am thankful for every second I had on this Earth.”

Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Colt called Lallier “a true American hero,” and said he lived a short but noble and inspiring life.

“Jarrod made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom, so that others may live without fear,” Colt said. “He will not be forgotten.”

He described Lallier as a courageous man and soldier of loyalty, duty, selfless service and integrity, who knew perseverance and sacrifice. “He was physically strong, technically skilled, trusted and respected,” he said. “Jarrod clearly reflected our values. Jarrod was brave. He led by example.”

Friends and family packed the massive Life Center FourSquare Church for the memorial, evidence of the many lives Lallier touched.

“Jarrod loved life,” Colt said. “He loved his family and greatly valued his friends.”

Today would have been Lallier’s 21st birthday.

The 2010 Mead High School graduate enjoyed playing guitar, camping, fishing, playing in Hoopfest and running Bloomsday. He loved animals, and sensing this, they were drawn to him. As a boy, the family cat would groom him like a kitten while he was asleep.

Lallier was affable, easily making friends wherever he went.

“Everyone that knows Jarrod knows he is a people person,” Pastor Joe Wittwer said. “He enjoyed being around people and had a knack for accepting people where they were.”

He also had a knack for giving friends and family nicknames. He called his mother, Kim, “Mama Kimbo.”

Lallier was remembered as an adventurer. His mother called him the “urgent care child.”

“He fell out of trees, toppled off playground equipment and crashed four-wheelers,” Wittwer said on behalf of Lallier’s mother.

A video showed photos of Lallier growing up, from a hungry, 4-day-old infant to a handsome soldier standing tall and proud in fatigues. The presentation included photos and video of his first steps, him fishing, strumming a guitar, playing soccer, swimming with siblings, and coming home to surprise his family on Easter.

After the memorial, a long procession traveled to Fairmount Memorial Cemetery, where Lallier was buried with full military honors. A three-volley gun salute sounded, followed by the playing of taps, then a ceremonial folding of the flag, which was presented to Lallier’s family.

Lallier was a paratrooper assigned to the 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C. He joined the Army on July 7, 2010. This was his first deployment to Afghanistan. He was killed when enemy insurgents dressed as Afghan police turned their weapons against his unit, killing Lallier and wounding eight others.

He was well-liked among his comrades and troubled by the recent loss of two close friends from his unit who were killed by improvised explosive devices.

Lallier’s awards include the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart, the National Defense Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, the NATO Medal, the Overseas Service Ribbon, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge and the Parachutist Badge.

“Rest in peace, brother,” Colt said. “You’ve completed your mission here on Earth.”

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