Sunday, February 04, 2007

Mikel Garrigus has services ahead of burial at Arlington

MCCLEARY - Fellow soldiers described Army Sgt. Mickel Garrigus as a man of honor, integrity and personal courage at a memorial service Saturday.

"He didn't want to join the Army to be a paper pusher. ... He wanted to do something for his country. And you know what? He did," said Sgt. Brian Miller, who served with Garrigus for five years.

Miller spoke of his determined and goal-oriented friend before a crowd of about 200 at a memorial service Saturday at the Assembly of God Church of McCleary.

Garrigus, 24, a military police officer from Elma, was killed Jan. 27 by a roadside bomb while on patrol in Tagi, Iraq.

The governor's husband, Mike Gregoire, attended the service to express condolences and offer Garrigus' family a letter from the governor.

The service included a video showing pictures of a grinning child goofing around with his three siblings, a teenager in a football uniform, a 2001 Elma High School graduate and a father holding his sleeping infant son.

Garrigus' son, Ethan, who turned 1 last month, and wife, Natasha, were his pride and joy, family said.

"He started off as a great soldier, and I've seen him become a great man," Miller said. He saw his friend mature into a devoted husband and father, he said.

Garrigus served as a guard at Guantanamo Bay before he was transferred to Fort Lewis and assigned to the 571st Military Police company. He was two months into his second tour of duty in Iraq.

Family friend Carolyn Evans said friends and family donated enough money for Garrigus' three siblings and grandmother to accompany his mother and stepfather, Deadra and Dave, to his military burial, set for Wednesday at Arlington National Cemetery.

She said during the service that Garrigus could always make her laugh, regardless of her mood. She read an e-mail from Garrigus' childhood friend, Sid Sandstrom.

In it, Sandstrom recalled playing soccer, football and other sports with Garrigus, always a competitor. He wrote that he hoped Ethan would grow up with that same competitive streak.

Spc. Glen Jones, who also met Garrigus in the Army, said his friend was a smart aleck when they met. Over time, Jones learned Garrigus was also a man dedicated to helping others, he said. "Mickel was a family person," Jones said. "He liked to take care of people."

From the Olympian

Related Link:
Mickel D. Garrigus dies of injuries from I.E.D.