Pacific edition, Thursday, May 10, 2007

CAMP CASEY, South Korea — Hundreds of soldiers from the 302nd Brigade Support Battalion and other 2nd Infantry Division units said goodbye to a fallen comrade Tuesday.

Soldiers from the 302nd’s Bravo Company remembered Spc. Vang B. Her, 22, as a friendly soldier who set a high standard for those around him.

“I saw in him the soldier I strive to be,” Pfc. Christy Mahoney said at Tuesday’s service at the Schoonover Bowl.

On Saturday night, a taxi driver hit Her near Mount Soyo on Highway 3, about three miles north of Camp Casey’s main gate. The driver, identified by his taxi company as Kim Jong-gyu, told police that Her dashed in front of his taxi naked. Others said Her was lying in the road when Kim struck him with the taxi, according to police.

Police took Kim into custody Saturday night for failing to report the accident for 30 minutes.

Her’s death remains under investigation by South Korean police and Army investigators.

The circumstances of Her’s death left many of his friends searching for answers.

“I questioned myself how it happened — why it happened,” Pfc. David Ortiz told the crowd. “Could I have done something to change it?”

Ortiz came to the conclusion that what his father once told him was correct — everyone has a mission. Her’s final mission was to bring the soldiers within his section so close that they are now a family, Ortiz said.

“I thought that was something that would never happen,” Ortiz said. “But it did.”

Spc. Shawn Pettigrew had hoped that Her, his roommate, was lost Saturday night and found someplace to sleep.

After hearing news of his death, Pettigrew told mourners he even thought for a moment that he saw Her standing in his room. “My room is so quiet without him,” Pettigrew said.

Capt. Sarita Malik, Her’s company commander, spoke about his positive impact on the unit and the pride he felt in his heritage. Her is ethnically Hmong, a minority with a homeland in China’s southern mountains.

After a speech, Malik laid an Army commendation medal by Her’s rifle and helmet.

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