High school students host memorial service for classmate killed in Iraq
By LOUANNA CAMPBELL | Tyler Morning Telegraph (Tribune News Service) | Published: October 26, 2017
The flag case Robert E. Lee High School senior Zachary Morris made during his construction technology class now holds a folded flag to honor the service and sacrifice of Spc. Alexander Missildine, a 2015 Lee graduate who went on to serve in the U.S. Army.
Missildine, 20, was on his first deployment with his unit and just weeks into his deployment when his vehicle struck an improvised explosive device in northern Iraq on Oct. 1.
About 150 students gathered Wednesday in the courtyard near the flagpole for a student-led memorial ceremony honoring Missildine.
Senior Karl Hall organized the short memorial service. Jared Cockrum played taps on his trumpet as a detail of U.S. Army soldiers unfurled and folded a flag. Hall placed the flag in the case Morris built and sat it on top of the Army memorial wall at the bottom of the flag pole.
"Alex was a friend of mine," Cockrum said. "I met him when I was a freshman. He was my section leader in band. I wanted to show my thanks for his service and his family."
Sophomore Colby Leathers and Senior Daniel English attended the early morning ceremony on the Lee campus.
"My brother just graduated from the Navy," Leathers said. "It's important for me to honor someone else who sacrificed so much and died in the line of duty."
English said he knew Alex for a short time and wanted to come out and show his respect.
"Being able to see his impact, I knew it was important to come out and show our respect," English said.
The flag sat on top of the Army memorial at the bottom of the flagpole where five other engraved names of former students who also gave their life for their country.
Missildine was assigned to the 710th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team, out of Fort Polk, Louisiana.
His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Combat Action Badge, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal with one campaign star, National Defense Service Medal and the Army Service Ribbon.
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