Monday, May 28, 2007

Jesse Albrecht laid to rest

Rows of flag-draped lampposts line Main Street here, honoring Memorial Day. On Saturday, a few blocks away, family and friends of Jesse Albrecht gathered inside Holy Cross Lutheran Church to honor and remember a young man who died for his country half a world away.

"There is a bitter irony to this," said the Rev. Ralph M. Thompson, who stood next to a large portrait of Albrecht and his 11-year-old daughter, Salena. "This weekend we remember those who died in service to their country. Sadly, we add Jesse's name to that list."

Sgt. 1st Class Albrecht, 31, formerly of Hager City, Wis., died May 17 in Iskandariyah, Iraq, when an improvised bomb exploded near his vehicle. Two other soldiers also were killed.

During Saturday's funeral service, Thompson recalled a "polite and well-mannered young man" who was a member of his high school's band and wrestling team.

"Opponents had a hard time wrestling that lanky young man," said Thompson, who knew Albrecht best from confirmation classes.

Thompson also attested to Albrecht's determination and work ethic.

"For a time, he worked on a farm, often biking the eight miles to the farm to get the work done. Somewhere among the line, Jesse added leadership to his résumé," he said.

At the funeral, more than 150 mourners, including Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle, listened to Albrecht's parents and brother-in-law as they remembered the fallen soldier. Also in attendance was his wife, Crystal Albrecht. The couple, who would have celebrated their first wedding anniversary at the end of July, resided in Wasilla, Alaska.
"He put everybody before himself," said his mother, Denise Albrecht, of New Richmond, Wis. "He was here to serve us. He would have done anything for anybody."

As she presented roses to family members, "Raise Him Up" by Randy Travis played in the background. She also read part of a letter from one of her son's fellow soldiers that revealed her son's latest hobby - golf.

"He was a true leader in every way, and he was a person who loved to smile ... We would sit around at night talking about all the golf that we were going to play when we got home," the letter said.

Jeff Sylte recited a poem he had written for his brother-in-law that included this heart-felt line: "I know you were only my brother-in-law, but I'm proud to call you brother because you were never anything other to me."

Toward the end of the service, the honor guard exited the church and fired 21 shots. Through the sound of rain falling outside, the lonely notes of taps made their way into the church.

Along with a U.S. flag and his dog tags, the family was given five military honors that were bestowed upon Albrecht: the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Combat Action Badge, Bronze Star Medal, and Purple Heart.

A 1994 graduate of Prescott High School, Albrecht started his military career with a stint in boot camp between his junior and senior years of high school. He then was stationed with the 82nd Airborne at Fort Bragg, N.C. After Fort Bragg, Albrecht was stationed in Maryland before transferring to Alaska in June 2005. In October 2006, he was sent to Iraq.

From the Pioneer Press

Related Link:
Jesse Albrecht remembered by wife

Related Link:
Jesse B. Albrecht dies of 'of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle'