In an open-sided army tent on a dusty makeshift military base, Sgt. 1st Class Gregory Cardott was eulogized Friday as a soldier who epitomized the Special Forces.
Cardott, 36, of Fayetteville, N.C., was killed Thursday, the first American soldier to die by hostile fire since the U.S.-led multinational force landed in September to oust the military dictatorship and help restore elected rule.
Cardott was shot by the passenger of a truck that ran a tollbooth near this west-coast town 60 miles north of the capital. Another American soldier shot and killed the Haitian gunman.
“In the past 24 hours, we lost a buddy. A wife lost a husband and two children lost a father,” said Maj. Mark O’Neill, Cardott’s company commander.
“Did he die in vain? He did not. Was the cause great? You’re damned right it was,” O’Neill said.
The slain soldier had been assigned to the Third Special Forces Group in Fort Bragg, N.C.
The brief service was attended by about 100 Special Forces troops and at least four generals. Cardott’s rifle, boots and green beret were placed on a table covered with camouflage fabric, and an American flag hung on the wall.
Cardott’s body was flown back to the United States later Friday.
Gerarde Elysse, an Interior Ministry spokeswoman, said the gunman was former Haitian army Maj. Aurel Frederic, a ship owner on his way to Gonaives for the arrival of one of his cargo vessels.
U.S. Embassy spokesman Stan Schrager called Cardott’s killing “an isolated incident. There was no premeditated attempt to shoot U.S. soldiers.”
Four other Americans participating in the U.S.-led mission have died. A translator for the international police force was killed in an accident and three soldiers committed suicide.