Just two weeks ago, Pfc. Cole William Larsen was living life to the fullest.

On Monday, mourners gathered in Mannheim, Germany, to remember the 19-year-old soldier, who was killed Nov. 12 in a vehicle accident in Iraq.

Larsen, a gunner for the 1st Platoon, 3rd Squad, 272nd Military Police Company, 95th Military Police Battalion at Taylor Barracks, died in Baghdad while driving to Camp Volunteer with his security team, according to a statement issued by the Mannheim community. His armored support vehicle was clipped by another unidentified vehicle and rolled over several times. He was pronounced dead on the scene.

He had come to Mannheim directly out of the Army’s military police job training and deployed to Iraq three months later.

At the midway point in his deployment, Larsen, a native of Santa Clarita, Calif., made a surprise visit to his family during Rest and Recuperation leave.

“We went to the dunes and rode quads, we went to shoot skeet, he kept his friends tied up with visits, and spent a little bit of time with almost all the family,” Larsen’s father, Ballard T. Larsen, said in a telephone interview Monday. “We’re fortunate because we got to see him at home doing all the things he liked to do.”

It was the last time the Larsen family would see their soldier.

Because Larsen spent such a small amount of time at Taylor Barracks before deploying, only the soldiers he deployed with knew the young troop. That made the impact of his death all the more painful to Mannheim community members who gathered for the service at Benjamin Franklin Village Chapel, because they never got the chance to know him better, said Raphael Eredita, a spokesman for 293rd Base Support Battalion.

Larsen is the first casualty from the Mannheim military community and though the people who knew him best are still deployed, Eredita said people could get an impression of who Larsen was from his comrades.

According to Eredita, Sgt. Brett Browning, Larsen’s noncommissioned officer in charge, described his soldier as a “simple country boy” even though he was from California. He was attached to the great outdoors; he loved motorcycles and always liked to talk about dirt bikes in particular.

Browning said Larsen also loved to tinker with cars and was supposed to help his father repair his Ford truck as soon as he got back to California. Larsen was very attached to his family and had an exceptional bond with his father, according to the NCOIC.

Browning immediately made arrangements to be with the Larsen family in California after the accident.

The Army posthumously awarded Larsen with a Bronze Star, the Global War on Terror Expeditionary Medal and the Global War on Terror Service Medal, according to Eredita.

“Our family has been around for a long time,” the father said with both sadness and pride from his Santa Clarita home. “We had Larsens fighting from the Revolutionary War all the way through.

“There has been Larsens fighting and dying for this country since its infancy.”

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