Thursday, August 23, 2007

Justin Penrod remembered by family

War’s realities have come home to a Paoli family whose relative, from Illinois, was killed in Iraq on Aug. 11.

Justin Penrod, 24, of Danville, died when an improvised explosive device detonated.

His cousin, Angie Andis of Paoli, suggested Americans have become accustomed to learning about the deaths of soldiers, but having it happen to a family member changes one’s perspective.

“You see it on TV (news of a troop’s death) and you feel bad that it happened,” she said. “Then you go on with everyday (life). ... You don’t think about it. ... Then you get the phone call.”

The call for Andis came on her cell phone on Aug. 12. She actually missed the call, but rang the number back later in the day. An aunt handed the phone to her grandmother, who told Andis the news.

Andis, along with her mother, Paoli’s Linda Cole (Justin’s aunt) and Andis’ brothers Shawn and Matt Frost and her sister Jessica Cole plan to go to Danville for Penrod’s funeral on Saturday.

Andis, 33, said she has some memories of Penrod from the time when they were children, before her branch of the family came to Paoli.

“He came to Indiana to visit us once,” Andis said, adding that her family makes periodic trips to Illinois to visit family members there.

She said she went to her mother’s home after learning of Penrod’s death. “We went through pictures of him when he was small, when he had come here,” she said.

Andis has been in frequent contact with relatives in Illinois since learning about Penrod’s death. “It’s just kind of hard knowing that you have to wait such a long time for the funeral,” she said.

“This was his second deployment to Iraq,” Andis said. But, she said something different had happened this time before he left his wife, Christina, and their 8-month-old son, Colin, behind.

“When I talked to my grandmother and my aunt,” Andis said, “both of them made it sound like they felt like he wasn’t coming back this time. He kept telling them he loved them. ... He had made plans with his wife this time for what he wanted done at his funeral. ... He felt the need to make plans this time.”

Diane Penrod, Justin’s stepmother, told the Danville Commercial-News, “He believed in giving back. He didn’t just say that — he lived it. That boy was something else.”

A story in the Mahomet, Ill., News-Gazette quoted his mother, Tina Tuttle of Danville, as saying, “He always wanted to help people that need help.”

The stepmother said Justin had treated his stepbrother, Rick Reavis (who died in 2002 at 26), as a true brother. She told the News-Gazette, “Rick was a quadriplegic, and Justin, as a teenager, put his whole life on hold to take care of him. Justin would put him in a wheelchair and they’d go to the mall or movies. He wanted to make sure Rick wasn’t lonely.”

Penrod’s funeral procession will move from Champaign County to Danville on Saturday. Danville Mayor Scott Eisenhauer has asked citizens to fly flags at half-mast in Penrod’s honor on Saturday and “to take time ... to show support for his family and friends and appreciation of his service by lining the funeral procession route upon his arrival into our city.”

From the Times Mail

Related Link:
Justin Penrod remembered at candlelight vigil

Related Link:
Justin O. Penrod dies 'of wounds suffered from an improvised explosive device'