Thursday, May 03, 2007

Jeffrey Avery honored by comrades

Fort Lewis paid tribute Wednesday to its 99th service member to die in the Iraq war, a young man who followed his brother, mother, father, uncles and grandfather into the service and who aspired one day to become a state trooper.

Pfc. Jeffrey A. Avery of Colorado Springs, Colo., would have turned 20 next month.

He was killed April 23 when a bomb detonated near him as he manned a checkpoint in Muqdadiyah, about 60 miles north of Baghdad.

About 200 soldiers and others gathered for a memorial ceremony at the Main Post Chapel.

His former platoon leader in the 571st Military Police Company, Lt. Alyssa Briones, said Avery arrived at the company a few months before it deployed to Iraq last November.

She said at first she wasn’t sure he’d fit in; the platoon was a tight-knit outfit and tough for newcomers to break in.

“But within days he was part of the family,” Briones said.

“He was the kind of soldier who when I’d open my window and yell, ‘I need three soldiers for a terrible detail,’ he’d come running anyway and with a smile on his face,” she said.

Avery, who enlisted two days after Christmas 2005, wore cowboy gear, rode bulls as a teenager and loved country music, hunting, fishing and camping, his friends and family members told his hometown paper, the Colorado Springs Gazette.

His father, brother and grandfather served in the Marine Corps, and he was born at the Marine base at Camp Pendleton, Calif. His mother served in the Navy Reserve.

Speakers on Wednesday said he was known for fine soldiering skills and a selflessness beyond his years.

Maj. John Turner, his battalion’s executive officer, said Avery’s comrades in Iraq reported that he “always seemed to say the right things and put things in perspective.”

His superiors recognized his leadership potential and credited him with helping the unit avoid harm by spotting the little things when others might have been distracted.

“His sudden and unexpected passing at the age of 19 can only be described as the theft of something precious,” Turner said.

Avery is the ninth military policeman from Fort Lewis to be killed in the Iraq war.

His family told their hometown paper his goal was to serve his enlistment in the Army and then try to become a Colorado state trooper.

Avery is survived by his parents, Richard Avery and Joann Sanchez, and his brother, Rich Avery.

From the News Tribune

Related Link:
Jeffrey A. Avery dies 'from wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated during checkpoint operations'