Monday, August 06, 2007

Daniel Leckel laid to rest

More than 300 friends, family members and supporters of Army Spec. Daniel A. Leckel crowded into Glendale High School Saturday morning to say good-bye to the infrantryman and 2005 Glendale High graduate who died July 25 in Iraq. They heard Leckel eulogized as a young man who loved sports and looked for ways to serve others.

Gov. Ted Kulongoski called the occasion "an unimaginably difficult day" and praised Leckel as a hero who died too soon.

"He was the best Oregon had to give," Kulongoski told the crowd.

Leckel was killed by small arms fire in Baghdad, according to the U.S. Department of Defense. He was the third Oregonian killed in Iraq in July and the 96th tied to Oregon to die in Iraq or Afghanistan since 2003.

As the service began at about 10 a.m., Leckel's body lay in a flag-shrouded casket in a high school gym festooned with the championship banners of the sports teams he so loved.

The dais was adorned with flowers and photographs of Leckel. Elvis Presley's "How Great Thou Art" and "Take My Hand, Precious Lord" played.

Football coach Steve Prock, who knew Leckel since he played Little League baseball, said the young man turned to managing the football team as a sophomore after an injury.

"He just wanted to be part of a team," Prock said. "He was all heart."

Prock said Leckel did stellar duty for three years, and he worried about how to replace him.

Brig. Gen. Donald M. Campbell Jr. presented Leckel's family with Leckel's Bronze Star for bravery and a Purple Heart.

The Rev. Dan Fleming, who officiated, described Leckel as a young man who wanted to serve others in a Biblical sense. He referred to Leckel's decision to become a team manager at the high school saying, "Doggone it, he missed being a servant."

Fleming read the 23rd Psalm and read from Ecclesiastes about there being a time to kill and a time to heal. He said Leckel's life would have more impact than the lives of many people who live 70 years.

"Daniel is going to get a big hug in heaven," he said.

From the Mail Tribune

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