Friday, April 13, 2007

Levi Hoover dies of injuries from I.E.D.

MIDLAND - Friends and co-workers at the Meijer store in Midland, where Levi K. Hoover worked before joining the U.S. Army, have placed a memorial in the store for the fallen soldier.

''He left a couple of years ago, but he's still considered an employee,'' said Emily Bolander, administrative assistant at the store. ''He was on military leave.''

Bolander was to place Hoover's photo and a sympathy card for customers to sign at the store's main entrance.

A private first class with the Army's 82nd Airborne Division based at Fort Bragg, N.C., Hoover, 23, died Saturday.

He was one of four soldiers killed when an improvised explosive device detonated near their unit in Zaganiyah, Iraq, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

Hoover; Capt. Jonathan D. Grassbaugh, 25, of East Hampstead, N.H.; Spc. Ebe F. Emolo, 33, of Greensboro, N.C., and Pfc. Rodney L. McCandless, 21, of Camden, Ark., were with the 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team.

Hoover, a 2002 Dow High School graduate, worked in the meat and seafood department at Meijer.

''He was really friendly, good natured and interested in a lot of different things,'' Bolander said.

Hoover was engaged and hoped to become a police officer, relatives said.

''He was a good person,'' said his mother, Belinda Brewster. ''We were proud of him.''

Brewster talked with Hoover two days before his death, when he described a deadly roadside bomb explosion.

''I think he was worried,'' Brewster said. ''It was a dangerous place to be.''

Hoover received a criminal justice degree from Delta College before heading to Alaska to work as a ranger's assistant.

He enlisted in the Army in 2005 and deployed to Iraq the next year. He got engaged Christmas Day to a woman he met in Alaska.

In high school, Hoover wrestled and was a member of the steering committee that set policy for the school, Brewster said.

Adam San Miguel, his wrestling coach all four years, said Hoover was a good youngster who was well liked by his teammates.

While a student, he often talked about traveling to Alaska and having a career in law enforcement, San Miguel said. When he finally made it to Alaska, he gave his old coach a call, he said.

''The kid loved to go fishing and had a passion for the outdoors,'' San Miguel said. ''When he made his way to Alaska, he had reached one of his dreams.''

Funeral arrangements were incomplete at Ware-Smith-Woolever Funeral Home in Midland.

Hoover is the 139th member of the Armed Forces with known Michigan ties to die since the war in Iraq started in 2003. He is the third mid-Michigan person, including one civilian, killed in Iraq this year.

From the Times