Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Joseph Landry laid to rest

Chris Landry had every reason to look glum. Every reason to cry.

But there he stood, head up, greeting well-wishers, even managing a few smiles.

Maybe it was the jacket he was wearing ? an Army jacket his big brother wore in boot camp.

Now, he wears it in his brother's honor. Even wore it on a steamy Thursday night during the wake for his brother, Army Cpl. Joseph N. Landry III.

Heaven knows that anytime Cpl. Landry put on his military gear, he was transformed ? even with the Junior ROTC uniform that he sported through all four years of high school.

"He was quiet, but when he put on that ROTC uniform, he was 10 feet tall and bulletproof," said high school classmate and friend Tiffany Gilchrist, 22, of Pensacola. "He wore it with pride and dedication."

Cpl. Landry was killed Sept. 18 in Muqdadiyah, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his unit during combat operations. Two other soldiers died in the blast. Cpl. Landry, a 2002 Pine Forest High graduate, was 23.

He is survived by his parents, Joseph and Karen Landry of Pensacola; a brother, Chris Landry, a 16-year-old Pine Forest sophomore; and many other relatives.

The Landrys greeted well-wishers at Faith Chapel Funeral Home North on U.S. 29 in Cantonment. Many stood before Cpl. Landry's flag-draped casket in solemn silence.

Some swapped stories about Cpl. Landry, others just hugged family members and offered their support.

"As soon as he got into high school and ROTC, he was determined to join the military," said his aunt, Linda McCaleb of Elberta, Ala. "He was dedicated. You know the story about him carrying the 50 pounds to work."

When the Army told Landry that he would have to lose 40 pounds to enlist, Cpl. Landry strapped a 50-pound pack on his back and started walking. He walked two miles to his job at Taco Bell, and two miles back carrying the weight. He carried the heavy load until he lost the 40 pounds.

"He was a quiet soldier, but he was a good soldier," said Sgt. Jonathan Proffitt, who served with Cpl. Landry. "There was not much that I didn't rely on him for. He could make leadership lazy because he was doing his job so well."

Cpl. Landry's casket had arrived in Pensacola just hours earlier, landing at Sherman Field at Pensacola Naval Air Station.

Under blue skies, the charter jet arrived from Dover Air Force Base in Delaware just after

9 a.m. Military honor guards stood at attention, as did deputies from the Escambia County Sheriff's Office and the local chapter of the Patriot Guard. The Patriot Guard is a national organization of motorcycle enthusiasts, mostly veterans, who attend funerals of military warriors killed in Iraq to honor those who served and to ward off potential protests.

Cpl. Landry was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division out of Fort Lewis, Wash. His Stryker Brigade unit was deployed to Iraq in April.

Funeral services were at 10 a.m. today at Faith Chapel Funeral Home in Cantonment. The burial was at Little Flock Cemetery in Molino.

Though gone, Cpl. Landry will never be forgotten.

"I always admired and respected him," Gilchrist said. "Now, he'll be a hero to me forever."

From the Pensacola News Journal

Related Link:
Joseph N. Landry III dies 'of wounds sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his unit during combat operations'