War Eagles mourn fallen duo
Stars and Stripes April 14, 2008
VILSECK, Germany — The 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment said goodbye to two more War Eagles killed in action in Iraq during a ceremony at Vilseck on Saturday.
Spc. Jason C. Kazarick, 30, of Oakmont, Pa., and Sgt. Michael T. Lilly, 23, of Boise, Idaho, died in a rocket-propelled grenade attack April 7 in Sadr City in Baghdad. They were assigned to 2nd Cavalry’s Company B, 1st Squadron, the War Eagles.
Lt. Col. Thomas Rickard, rear detachment commander of the 2nd Cavalry, told those who came to pay their respects at the Rose Barracks Chapel that Kazarick excelled as an infantryman and a sniper.
After 10 years of working in the private sector, he joined the Army looking for a challenge, Rickard said.
First Squadron rear detachment commander Capt. Emmanuel Sioson remembered Kazarick as the oldest of a group of privates who joined the unit after it redeployed to Fort Lewis, Wash., from Iraq in 2005.
“He brought a wealth of knowledge from his life in the civilian world,” telling stories of being a bartender, among other things, he said.
Kazarick was in top physical shape and wanted to go to Ranger school and try out for Special Forces, Sioson said.
One of the few infantrymen who were also sniper-qualified, he helped train the War Eagle snipers, he said.
“He was experienced, calm and ready to go. He was a great soldier, but he also didn’t take himself too seriously. He was ready to poke fun at the Army way and some of the silly things we have to do sometimes,” he said.
Kazarick was engaged to marry Susanne Hutzelmeier and often showed off photos of her and her son.
“He looked forward to marrying you and being great father,” Sioson told her.
Rickard said Lilly’s father, John, told him his son “loved Idaho, loved the U.S. and loved the Army.”
The young soldier was on his second re-enlistment and planned to re-enlist a third time, Rickard said.
Sgt. Michael Lilly and his wife, Miseda, were high-school sweethearts, Sioson said.
“He used a unique courtship technique that involved a cardboard box. He used to work at Dairy Queen. He decided to visit Miseda at work dressed in a big cardboard box. I think, Miseda, that it was a romantic gesture. The 7½ years you spent with Mike will be forever to be cherished,” he said.
The loss of two more 1st Squadron soldiers — only a week after the unit bid farewell to three other fallen War Eagles — made it hard to write the eulogy, Sioson said.
He said he saw the sadness in the eyes of Kazarick’s friends when he told them about his death. “And as I talked to Sgt. Lilly’s wife yesterday and she helped us remember what a wonderful husband he was,” he said.
The chapel was full of the fallen soldiers’ families, friends, comrades in arms, and leaders and supportive community members.
“To be in the hearts we leave behind is not to die; it is to live forever,” he said. The soldiers “live on in our hearts and memories,” he said.