THE FALLEN AT FORT HOOD: Michael Pearson loved guitar improvisation

By Peter Slevin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, November 6, 2009; 5:32 PM

Pfc. Michael Pearson taught himself to play the piano and became a guitar virtuoso long before he joined the Army last year. "He had a little Jimi Hendrix in him," a relative said Friday as the family gathered to grieve in suburban Chicago.

Before the attack at Fort Hood, Pearson was preparing to deploy to Afghanistan to become a bomb disposal specialist. His family knew he had received a series of inoculations and, when they learned of the shooting, figured that Pearson would be safely elsewhere.

He died Thursday at age 21. A surgeon called with the news.

Pearson graduated from Bolingbrook High School, where his passion was music, said the relative, who asked not to be identified. When he enlisted, he was seeking adventure, educational opportunities and the chance to serve.

"He was very reflective and introspective and wise beyond his years," the relative said. "He knew the importance of things, whether they were pleasant or not."

As a guitarist, improvisation was his joy: "He just sat-in and just jammed away." On his Facebook page, Pearson typed the words to a song of his own. The relative choked up as he read them aloud:

I look only to the future for wisdom.

To rock back and forth in my wooden chair,

Grow out the beard of the earth,

And play my experience through sound.

Not always pleasant, but just as important,

For each note must represent love, pain experience.

Everyone has a place in my story,

And someday I'll play a tune that represents you

And the role you played in my life.

© 2009 The Washington Post Company