Wednesday, February 14, 2007

David Armstrong laid to rest

DUNCAN FALLS, Ohio — Looking at the almost 100 snapshots pasted onto four picture boards in the lobby of the funeral home, you couldn’t help but notice that Army Cpl. David C. Armstrong almost always had an arm around someone.

Sometimes it was his wife. Sometimes it was his mom. Occasionally it was a buddy. In a few, his arm was even around one of his four dogs.

Sometimes it looked like his arm was around someone so that he could lead them. Sometimes it looked like he was supporting them.

Either way it was clear: Whomever he was holding, it was because he loved them.

And so they came by the hundreds yesterday to the whitesteepled country church in Muskingum County. They came to say goodbye.

After having completed more than 100 combat missions, Armstrong died in Baghdad, Iraq, on Feb. 1 when his Humvee overturned in a ravine. His friend and fellow soldier, Pfc. Kenneth "Tyler" Butler of East Liverpool, died in the crash with him.

Armstrong’s close friend Jordan Wilkes was one of several mourners who offered a eulogy at the Cornerstone Full Gospel Church.

Wilkes said that even though his friend wasn’t dodging bullets or avoiding explosives when he crashed on his way back to base from a military post exchange, he still died serving his country so that others wouldn’t have to.

"Make no mistake, David died in Iraq. David died in a war," Wilkes said. "David died without kissing his wife goodnight, and David died without telling his mom and dad goodbye. David died a soldier, 3,000 miles from home."

Armstrong was 21. He was a 2004 graduate of Maysville High School in Muskingum County and had joined the Army in March 2005. Five months later, he married Tasia Warne, his high-school sweetheart.

Armstrong left home because he wanted to see the world, and he was glad that he had done so. But war had taken a toll and he was tired, Wilkes said. He wanted to come home.

An Army brigadier general shared some thoughts from those who had served with Armstrong in the 57 th Military Police Company, 8 th Military Police Brigade.

The general talked about how Armstrong was a leader, how he was a man’s man, a soldier’s soldier, the real deal. He said Armstrong was tough as nails.

But his childhood friend Wilkes knew better. He knew Armstrong’s weakness.

"He feared nothing. Except feet," Wilkes said. "If you touched him with your feet, he would completely freak out."

Armstrong also was addicted to macaroni and cheese and had a particular penchant for Velveeta.

While Wilkes said he wanted to talk about his friend for hours, he decided instead to let Armstrong share something about himself. Wilkes read a note that Armstrong had posted online, by way of introduction for his MySpace account.

"I love to just have fun," Armstrong wrote. "I did almost a year in Korea, and I have some really good memories from there. But now I’m at war. I will say war is crazy. The Army has torn me apart from almost everything that I love. But all that will make me stronger."

Armstrong closed that online introduction with this: "I believe I am destined for greatness."

No one yesterday doubted that he had achieved it.

From the Dispatch

Related Link:
David C. Armstrong killed in rollover accident