Tuesday, June 05, 2007

"Remember me with Laughter"

While picking up breakfast yesterday, I saw this photo on the cover of the Daily Breeze. This is the same Torrance newspaper that covered several stories on local hero, Joseph Anzack, and his family.

The photo was heartbreaking, and a further reminder of the emotional costs of war. His funeral took place this past Sunday at the Los Angeles National Cemetery.

Here's a little bit more on the recent loss of another one of America's best and bravest:
By Larry Altman
Staff Writer

Daniel Cagle might have taken exception to the sniffles and tears shed for him Sunday, his eulogists said.

After all, the young Army soldier from Del Aire enjoyed a good time, loved challenging his schoolteachers, hanging with his friends, impressing the girls and leading his unit against insurgents in Iraq.

"He told us ... `I don't want you to remember me in tears,"' his mother, Gail Johnson-Roth, told about 250 mourners at his funeral at Los Angeles National Cemetery in Westwood. "`I want you to remember me with laughter."'

And so they did - sharing a few stories and listening to the 22-year-old soldier's favorite Lynyrd Skynyrd, Pennywise and Bob Marley songs blaring over the loudspeaker at the hallowed ground.

"He was full of life. He was full of personality," said Robert Murphy, whose 21-year-old son, Seamus, remains with Cagle's unit in Iraq. "He was a true testament of how great this country is that we continue to raise children into men like that."

Cagle died May 23, along with Staff Sgt. Stephen Butcher of New York, when a bomb exploded as they patrolled near Ramadi.

More details emerged at the funeral about how the young men perished.

Investigating the reported slayings of an Iraqi family, Cagle and Butcher approached a house to speak with two men, not knowing the killings were a ruse to attack American soldiers, mourners said.

"There were two cowardly insurgents in front of the house," said Cagle's stepfather, Andrew Roth. "As they approached them, it turned out they were `homicide bombers."'

In an instant, Roth said, the men detonated explosives concealed on their bodies, reducing themselves to "a pile of insurgent garbage."

The blasts killed Butcher immediately. Cagle died in a helicopter on his way to a hospital.

"This really brings it home," the stepfather said. "This is what happened to him. He is a hero by any measure."

A stream of mourners including friends, family members, fellow soldiers' fathers and a teacher eulogized Cagle as a buddy, a close brother, a memorable student and tough soldier committed to protecting his comrades.

"I don't know if God knows what he's in for," said sister Nicole Cagle, who serves in the Air Force.

Travis Loeffler, 23, of Gardena, described Cagle as "the life of the party," a man forever embedded in the hearts, minds and souls of his friends.

Alex Avila called Cagle "one of the best friends anyone could ask for."

"I'm real proud of him for what he did. I just hope everyone appreciates what our soldiers and our friends are doing for us," Avila said.

Dana Middle School teacher Phil Churnside, who taught Cagle in the eighth grade, said he told his current classes that the soldier was the type of student who would jump into a pool from a high-dive, not slowly creep into the water.

Dana school officials never forgot the vibrant student.

"Danny Cagle was easy to remember," Churnside said. "I just hope he knew how much we loved and cared about him."

The military posthumously promoted Cagle from private first class to specialist and awarded him the Purple Heart and Bronze Star, among other medals.

Army Maj. Gen. Don Riley presented the Stars and Stripes covering Cagle's casket to his mother and father.

"Danny went and did what he wanted to do. He did it bravely," said his father, Patrick Cagle. "I'm very, very proud of him."

About 40 Patriot Guard Riders - motorcycle enthusiasts who attend services to honor fallen soldiers - circled Cagle's grave with flags.

Just two days earlier, the group of veterans took part in the procession for Cpl. Joseph Anzack Jr., a Torrance soldier found dead in Iraq the same day Cagle died.

Anzack's father, Joseph Sr., was among the mourners Sunday. He said he was "doing what I am supposed to do."

Cagle's mother and sister held each other as they watched the brown casket lowered into the ground.

"I love you, Daniel," his mother said, dropping a yellow rose into the grave.

Multimedia Presentation

Some of the comments left for the Cagle family:

Words cannot show the deep feelings of sorrow I share with you and your family for the great sacrafice Daniel has made for you, me and the rest of this country. My son Cole was serving with Daniel in A-company. Gods speed be with healing you in your griefing.
- Kim Wetzel

Our deepest sympathy to the Cagle family. On Friday we attended a funeral for my daughter's school friend Joe Anzack, who was also killed in Iraq. It is heart wrenching to hear of yet another fallen soldier. Our prayers are with you and your family. Daniel is a Hero, thank you for raising such an honorable son. Thank you Daniel for your service and your courage. Please pray for the Alexeev family of Wilmington, Ca. Alexandre Alexeev graduated from Hawthorne High in 2002 and was killed in Iraq last Monday. May God Bless you, may God Bless our Troops.
- Richard & Isabel

My deepest condolences to the family and friends of Pfc. Daniel Cagle. He is a true AMERICAN HERO. It will be my honor as a Patriot Guard Rider to attend this hero's service. God bless the family for their ultimate sacrifice....
- Robert aka Bear53

Your son gave his life so others, whom he did not know, could live free. I am one of them. Thank you and may God keep you and your Danny safe.
- Jack B

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Blogger Gayle said...

Another wonderful tribute, Wordsmith.

Thanks for your upbeat comment on MRB. I appreciate it a lot. I'm not quitting, just slowing down. I'll be visiting more than I post. I enjoy doing Wednesday's Hero and snagging stuff for Fractured Friday and of course I have to visit you to get some good stuff. :)

Wednesday, June 06, 2007 6:24:00 AM  

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