Sunday, July 01, 2007

Thomas R. Leemhuis laid to rest

BINGER -- Army Pfc. Thomas Ray Leemhuis believed in freedom.

"Freedom does not come cheap," Rev. Amos Harjo said Saturday at a funeral service for the Anadarko soldier killed in Iraq. "There is a price to pay. There is a cost to defend freedom."

Leemhuis, 23, was killed June 21 when his Bradley fighting vehicle struck a roadside bomb in Baghdad. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division.

Another Oklahoman in the vehicle with Leemhuis, Army Sgt. Ryan M. Wood, 22, of Oklahoma City, also was killed, along with three soldiers from other states.

Services for Wood are set for 10:30 a.m. Monday at the Church of the Servant in Oklahoma City, followed by burial at the Yukon City Cemetery.

Yellow ribbons adorned downtown storefronts in Binger, about 20 miles north of Anadarko where Leemhuis went to high school. American flags dotted the downtown streets.

According to the Binger Funeral Home, about 525 attended the service at the Binger-Olney High School auditorium, including members of the Patriot Guard Riders, which stood outside with U.S. flags.

Inside, a poster with a picture of Leemhuis read "God Bless Our Fallen Hero."

His flag-draped coffin rested below the stage, surrounded by arrangements bearing red, white, blue and yellow flowers.

Services began with a video tribute to Leemhuis, showing a child growing into a man.

Photos depicted him with family and friends, sometimes smiling, sometimes not. A brown-eyed boy peered out to the crowd clutching a Christmas present. A young man poses in a basketball uniform. A high school graduate sports a grin.

Tom Worcester, a relative, said he wanted to let Leemhuis' mother, Patty Leemhuis of Anadarko, know her son was not forgotten.

"He will always be remembered and loved," Worcester told the crowd.

Leemhuis had his mind made up and was going to return to Binger to make a difference, Worcester said.

Classmate Tiffany Dickson said Leemhuis was an outstanding basketball player who detested drugs.

He was proud to be an American Indian and member of the U.S. Army, Dickson said.

Pipe Major Paul Shell of the Oklahoma City Highlanders Pipe Band slowly marched toward the coffin playing "Amazing Grace" on bagpipes. He saluted the coffin and returned to the rear of the auditorium.

Maj. Gen. David C. Ralston, commanding general at Fort Sill in Lawton, knelt down to present Leemhuis' family with the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. The Bronze Star is awarded for bravery, acts of merit or meritorious service; the Purple Heart is given to those wounded or killed.

Along with his mother, Leemhuis is survived by his father, Paul Whitehorn of Birmingham, Ala; a brother, Paul Whitehorn Jr., 17, of Binger; and three sisters, Stephanie Leemhuis, 27, of Dublin, Calif.; Renee Whitehorn, 19, of Anadarko; and Dream Cox, 12, of Birmingham Ala.

From the Tulsa World

Related Link:
Thomas R. Leemhuis dies 'of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle'