Soldiers Killed in Afghanistan, Iraq Are Laid to Rest at Arlington National Cemetery

By Mark Berman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Anthony Lightfoot was an artistic guy. He liked drawing and animation and harbored a desire to design video games. And he was giving and devoted, his older brother said, someone who wanted to help others and make them happy.

"Everybody has an identity," said Steven Lightfoot Jr., 29. "For Anthony, he just wanted people to get along. [He'd] make you feel happy: 'I'm going to show you love.' "

Army Spec. Anthony M. Lightfoot, 20, of Riverdale, Ga., was one of four soldiers killed July 20 in Wardak Province, Afghanistan, the Defense Department reported last month. The soldiers were killed when a roadside bomb detonated near their vehicles. After the explosion, enemy forces attacked with small arms and rocket-propelled grenades.

Lightfoot was buried Tuesday at Arlington National Cemetery, with dozens of family members and friends following a horse-drawn caisson carrying his coffin through the grounds. His mother, Lyvonne Lightfoot, a military veteran, accepted a folded flag and the condolences of many, including Army Secretary Pete Geren.

Also killed in the attack were Sgt. Gregory Owens Jr., 24, of Garland, Tex.; Spec. Andrew J. Roughton, 21, of Houston; and Pfc. Dennis J. Pratt, 34, of Duncan, Okla. All four soldiers were assigned to the 4th Battalion, 25th Field Artillery, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, based at Fort Drum, N.Y.

Lightfoot was a "military baby," born in Germany because of his mother's service, his brother said. He was the youngest of three siblings, and his sister, Nija, the eldest.

The family moved a lot, from Germany to California, winding up in Georgia before the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. They gravitated between Newport News, Va., and Clayton County, Ga., because they had relatives from Georgia through the Washington area.

Lightfoot joined the Army in January 2008 and arrived at Fort Drum that June. He was a field artillery automated tactical data systems specialist, according to the base. The combat team left for Afghanistan in January.

He was a video game devotee who beat a Mario Bros. game at age 4 and never looked back, his brother said. "Ever since then, you couldn't move him from the TV," his brother said. "Everything he touched he tried to master, and that was an awesome quality about him."

Lightfoot's passion for video games grew into a desire to study animation and design a game. He drew a lot as a youngster and befriended other fans of Japanese animation and video games.

"He was always happy to meet people, befriend people and help people," his brother said. "He was a giving person."

After Lightfoot was killed, a sergeant who knew him told his family that Lightfoot was "really loved by his unit," his brother said. He and some of his fellow soldiers took a snowboarding trip during their time at Fort Drum.

When he came home on leave a few months ago, he was full of pride about his military service. "He felt so good about himself and so good about his mission and so good about his life," his brother said. "He was happy and valorous about his service."

Earlier Tuesday, Sgt. Juan C. Baldeosingh, 30, of Newport, N.C., was also buried at Arlington. He had served in the Marine Corps before enlisting in the North Carolina National Guard in June 2008.

Baldeosingh was one of four soldiers from the North Carolina National Guard killed June 29 in Baghdad when a makeshift bomb detonated near their vehicle. The husband and father of three had received several awards, including the Purple Heart and Bronze Star.

In a statement his family released last month, Baldeosingh was recalled as a funny, kind and thoughtful family man. He met his wife, Rebecca, while stationed at Camp Lejeune. In the statement, she called him her best friend.

"I am so proud of him for fighting for our country," she said. "He did what he wanted to do, and that was to be in the military."

After Tuesday's ceremonies, 556 casualties from Iraq and Afghanistan are buried at Arlington.

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