Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Jared Crouch laid to rest

ZACHARY — U.S. Army Cpl. William Jared Crouch, 21, killed in Iraq on June 2 after being in combat a little over a month, was remembered at his funeral Saturday as a man who died doing what he felt born to do.

Standing in the shade of a brick pavilion in Port Hudson National Cemetery, Nina Gaudet said that she would remember her nephew for his dedication to his nation and “his willingness to go and fight.”

“It’s all he wanted to do,” she said as she walked past line after line of white tombstones after graveside services for Crouch. “My hat’s off to all those guys like him.”

Crouch, a Zachary native, was killed when a roadside bomb detonated near his vehicle in Al Hadid, the U.S. Department of Defense said. Crouch was a cavalry scout with a Stryker brigade out of Fort Lewis, Wash.

His younger brother, John Crouch, an Army reservist with a maintenance company stationed in Iraq, joined his family and dozens of other people at the funeral service.

People watching the funeral procession roll through the streets of Zachary called Crouch a hero. But it was recognition Crouch would have never sought, his relatives said.

He joined the Army in 2004 because he wanted to serve and his younger brother soon followed, they said.

Gaudet — and Crouch’s mother, Kathy Rushing — said that desire to serve came from his father, a Baton Rouge policeman who died when Jared Crouch was 13.

Crouch, who had almost completed his third year of military service, planned to continue his armed forces career by joining the Louisiana Army National Guard after his active-duty assignment was up, his mother has said.

He had considered studying history and getting a job in government service when he finished, Kathy Rushing said.

Janice Cook stood under the shade of a tree 20 yards from the graveside services while clutching an American flag and recounting a similar desire to serve that led her own 29-year-old son to Iraq.

Cook, 60, a member of Blue Star Mothers Inc. who was at the funeral to show support for Crouch’s family, said her son, Capt. Russell Cook, wanted to make a difference and enrolled in the U.S. Air Force Academy. A helicopter pilot, he is on his second tour in the Middle East.

Blue Star Mothers is an organization of people who have children currently or previously members of the military.

Cook said her heart stops every time she hears about a helicopter crash in Iraq and that she knows she is not the only mother with the same fear.

“It’s all our worst nightmare,” she said.

But she said support from the community as well as groups such as Blue Star Mothers demonstrates to grieving families like the Crouches that their losses are acknowledged.

That’s what led Vince Giaccone, 54, to park his red GMC Sierra along a busy stretch of U.S. 61, right where the funeral procession would turn toward Port Hudson National Cemetery.

From WBRZ 2

Related Link:
Jared (William J.) Crouch dies 'of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle'