Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Le Ron Wilson laid to rest

Le Ron Wilson's lifelong goal was to serve in the Army.

He got his wish during his short life.

"If you knew Le Ron, he didn't die for no reason," said Lawrence Wilson at his son's funeral Tuesday morning.

"He joined very young," said Lawrence Wilson, a military officer in Trinidad and Tobago. "It was a lifetime dream."

At 18, Wilson is the youngest soldier from the metropolitan area -- and only the second 18-year-old statewide -- to be killed in Iraq, according to the database icasualties.org. Nationwide, only 31 American soldiers that age have died in Iraq.

The U.S. Department of Defense did not return calls confirming the data.

Wilson died July 6, a little more than a year after enrolling in the military, when his vehicle hit a roadside bomb south of Baghdad.

"Le Ron lived a life of dignity and integrity," said the Rev. Jeff Dillon, during services at Christ the King Catholic Church in Springfield Gardens. He was willing "to do whatever was necessary -- even laying down his own life -- to be an instrument of peace."

Flag-wielding Patriot Guard Riders Tuesday presided over the church, as men in green uniforms and berets carried Wilson's flag-covered coffin into the basement chapel. More than 100 friends, family members and military personnel followed. Some wore commemorative buttons that featured Wilson as many remember him: grinning in an army cap.

After Communion, Brig. Gen. Bill Phillips declared Wilson "an American hero," and presented the young man's posthumous awards -- a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star -- to his parents.

"He was simply an outstanding leader, and a soldier who took care of others," Phillips said.

Wilson, of Rosedale, grew up in Trinidad and Tobago. He moved to Queens when he was 11 to live with his mother and attended IS 231 Magnetech and Thomas A. Edison High School. He graduated high school in 2006.

Wilson loved to play football with friends and listen to loud music -- Green Day was a favorite band -- but joining the Army was his life's goal, friends said. For his 17th birthday, he didn't want presents, only for his mother to sign his military enrollment forms. She obliged.

Wilson enlisted June 28, 2006. He was assigned to the 26th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, in Fort Stewart, Ga. He had trained as a weapons specialist, received two promotions and was twice named soldier of the month.

Donna Watson, 30, is a family friend who baby-sat Wilson when he was a boy and gave him rides to the army recruiting office when he grew older.

"There was nothing he was more passionate about than the Army," she said. But, she added, "I'm angry. Bush can run this country by his own rules, but how can not be taking kids out of Iraq? There's no way they should be in battle."

After services in Queens Tuesday, the procession traveled to the Long Island National Cemetery, Pinelawn, where a firing squad shot three rounds before family members placed red roses on the coffin.

A trumpet sounded, as Wilson's friends touched his coffin in a final farewell.

From Newsday

Related Link:
Le Ron Wilson remembered

Related Link:
Le Ron A. Wilson dies 'of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle'