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Pvt. James M. Puckett

Pvt. James M. Puckett ()

Pvt. James M. Puckett

Pvt. James M. Puckett ()

Soldiers perform the traditional firing of volleys during the memorial service for Pvt. James M. Puckett in Baumholder, Germany.

Soldiers perform the traditional firing of volleys during the memorial service for Pvt. James M. Puckett in Baumholder, Germany. (John Vandiver / S&S)

BAUMHOLDER, Germany — Before his next deployment, Pvt. James M. Puckett wanted to make a special trip home to Ohio to marry his high school sweetheart.

His leave schedule had to be adjusted, which leaders were more than willing to do.

“The reason was that he was a great soldier,” said Sgt. Maj. Robert Clark of the 4th Battalion, 27th Field Artillery, 1st Armored Division, 2nd Brigade.

On Tuesday, soldiers gathered at Chapel 1 in Baumholder to mourn Puckett, 25, who died on the morning of his July 1 wedding. The cause of death remains undetermined, pending autopsy results.

This much, Clark said, is known: Puckett went out for his bachelor party on June 30. He returned home about 2:30 a.m. When his mother tried to wake him later that morning, Puckett was unresponsive.

Soldiers, reflecting on Puckett, say he will be remembered for the enthusiasm he brought to his work and his generosity toward friends.

Capt. Matthew Hustead recalled Puckett’s mood during physical training exercises shortly before his trip back home.

“I remember his enthusiasm and how happiness seemed to surround him,” said Hustead, commander of the 4-27th’s Battery B. “If I could have a dozen Pucketts, I’d take them without question.”

If things were dull or a fellow soldier was feeling down, or if you were looking for a good time, “Puckett was your man,” said Pvt. Anthony Rampello.

When Rampello first arrived in Baumholder, it was Puckett who took him around and introduced him to everyone. By the end of the day, Rampello said he knew just about everyone’s name.

Puckett joined the Army in February 2006 and deployed to Iraq that September.

First Lt. Justin Watson said that while many people understandably gripe as they try to complete the Army’s challenging missions, Puckett “tackled his work with a grin.”

Following his lead, “We will give meaning to his life every day,” Watson said.

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John covers U.S. military activities across Europe and Africa. Based in Stuttgart, Germany, he previously worked for newspapers in New Jersey, North Carolina and Maryland. He is a graduate of the University of Delaware.
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