One year later, battalion gather to pay tribute to missing Fort Bragg soldier

By NANCY MCCLEARY | The Fayetteville Observer, N.C. | Published: April 20, 2013

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — Spc. Kelli Bordeaux, the Fort Bragg soldier who went missing a year ago, was remembered Friday as a woman who was always asking questions, always smiling, gracious, caring, polite and willful.

The descriptions were given by her fellow soldiers of the 261st Multifunctional Medical Battalion and her sister during a ceremony at Pope Army Airfield to remember the 24-year-old Bordeaux.

The battalion is part of the 601st Area Support Medical Company, 44th Medical Brigade.

About 250 battalion members came out to pay homage to Bordeaux, who was last seen April 14, 2012, after leaving Froggy Bottom's bar on Ramsey Street with a homeless part-time worker there.

No one has been charged in her disappearance.

Bordeaux's military friends, platoon leader and her sister, Olivia Cox, who lives in Fort Stewart, Ga., shared their memories.

"Kelli is the kind of soldier you want," said battalion commander Lt. Col. Heather Kness.

"She's selfless, she's smart and a little bit fearless. She's exuberant, beautiful, full of life and light," Kness said.

"She's exactly the kind of girl next door, a combat medic and an American soldier."

Spc. Kaydi Owens, one of Bordeaux's closest friends, sobbed as she spoke.

"Her smile. How amazing her smile was at 6:30 on Monday mornings," Owens said. "Her smile was to die for."

Bordeaux's rank of specialist was suited for her, Owen said.

"She was special at everything she did."

Owens spoke of Bordeaux's love of playing video games, calling her a "master" at Mortal Kombat.

Owens and Bordeaux were both from Florida, Owens said, and often spoke of going home to warm weather. Neither was fond of the cold, Owens said.

"I miss you, Kelli," she said. "I miss you so much, and I can't wait for you to get back."

Cox spoke about growing up with Bordeaux, how the two worked through sibling rivalry to become best friends.

"I love my sister more than words can say," Cox said.

Cox's mother, Johnna Henson, was in attendance as was Tamra Collins, a close friend from Florida. Bordeaux's brother, Matt Henson, and her husband, Michael Bordeaux, were unable to take time off from work, Cox said.

After the service, Cox said it's important to keep the case in the public eye as much as possible. The remembrance ceremony, she said, has given the family a shot of strength.

"It lets us know we're not the only ones who haven't given up," Cox said.

Law enforcement, soldiers and volunteers repeatedly searched the area of Ramsey Street where Bordeaux was last seen in the days and months after.

A search, the first since early March, is scheduled today at 10 a.m.

The family will never give up hope that Bordeaux is still alive.

"I'm not trying to bring Kelli's body home," Cox said. "I want to bring Kelli home."



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