Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Damon Legrand honored by comrades

Cpl. Damon G. LeGrand was killed in Iraq before he got the chance to come home and see his youngest daughter for the first time.

Fort Lewis gathered Monday to pay tribute to the military police officer who died June 12, after his patrol was ambushed in Baqouba.

The 27-year-old from Lakeside, Calif., was “confident, self-assured, and compassionate toward his fellow soldiers,” speakers said Monday.

But above all, they said, he was devoted to his family.

“Everyone who knew him said this young man’s family meant more to him than anything else,” said Capt. Douglas Yates, the chaplain.

LeGrand would have come home in July for mid-tour leave to see his wife, Ashley, their 2-year-old, Moira, and six-month-old Kelsie, who was born not long after he deployed.

His widow and his mother, Glenna, from Idaho Falls, Idaho, attended Monday’s ceremony. He is also survived by his father, Don, and three siblings.

LeGrand joined the Army in 2005 after completing his two-year mission as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He arrived at Fort Lewis in September 2005 and was assigned to the 571st Military Police Company.

Yates said at basic training LeGrand was dubbed “Pop.” He was older than most other recruits and was always there to encourage others.

His former first sergeant, Master Sgt. James Schultz, said LeGrand was a natural leader.

“He knew what needed to be done, and took care of his business, so that when you asked him later on if he’d done something, he would tell you that he’d already done it, and you’d feel stupid for asking,” Schultz said.

LeGrand aspired to be promoted to sergeant, then serve out his enlistment and become a highway patrolman in California.

He was killed after insurgents attacked his Humvee with two anti-tank mines, rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire. His battalion commander, Lt. Col. Steven Donaldson, said the patrol “fought back valiantly” and that two other soldiers were wounded.

Schultz said the MPs are “sorry we lost such a loyal soldier, sorry we did everything that we could have done and it wasn’t enough, sorry that we couldn’t do more. ... You were one of my best, and you will always be my brother.”

The ambush occurred a week before the start of Arrowhead Ripper, the Fort Lewis-led campaign to rout Islamist militants in Baqouba. A dozen other Fort Lewis soldiers have been killed in the area this year, although none since the onset of the current operation 10 days ago.

LeGrand is the third 571st MP to be killed in Iraq since the company deployed last November.

From the News Tribune

Related Link:
Damon G. Legrand dies of 'wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with anti-tank mines, rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire'