Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Jerome Potter remembered at memorial

LAKEWOOD, Wash. -- A Fort Lewis soldier who was killed in Iraq finally came home to full military honors.

In his last phone calls home, Spc. Jerome Potter told his mother his days in Baghdad were getting tougher as he was getting pushed into new areas. Potter's mom assured him he would come home, and on Saturday, he finally did.

Friends, family and fellow soldiers gathered in Lakewood to pay tribute to Potter. He was killed on May 3rd when a roaside bomb went off while he was on patrol in Baghdad.

Stories shared by friends depict a 24-year-old prankster who made people smile, even in war.

"He was pure in spirit, humble by nature and very caring," said Steve Murray, a friend.

Murray said he met Potter when Potter was just 17 years old and a student at Yelm High School. At the service, Murray recalled an immediate connection.

"We had a lot in common as we were both avid gamers and techno geeks," he said. "I swear, he had the largest collection of PS2 games and anime I've ever seen in my life."

Murray had encouraged Potter to volunteer for the Job Corps. Potter fought wildfires and had planned to become a park ranger someday. But once the war in Iraq began, those plans were put on hold.

"He has always been a soldier; he just never realized it," he said. "Jerome was a brave man not because he went to war. He was brave because he forgave those that hurt him," said at the memorial.

Potter deployed to Iraq last October. His squad leader, Staff Sgt. Jose Rusto describes Potter as a model soldier.

"I couldn't have asked for a better soldier, a better driver and a better person," he said. "Courage, dedication - that was Potter."

At the memorial service, the military presented Potter's family with three awards - a Bronze Star, a Purple Heart and a Combat Infantryman's Badge for Potter's services in Iraq.

From KOMO 4

Related Link:
Jerome Potter reported killed in Iraq