Spec. Jeremy Campbell enlisted in the Army right out of high school. He was sent to Iraq, and when his tour of duty ended, he volunteered to return.
Campbell, 21, died Sept. 11 while on patrol in Baghdad, when an explosive device detonated near his Humvee. He had been assigned to the 108th Military Police Company, 503rd Military Police Battalion (Airborne), 16th Military Police Brigade (Airborne), based at Fort Bragg, N.C.
Yesterday, dozens of mourners watched as Campbell was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery. Among them were his wife, Maddison Campbell, and a contingent of soldiers from Fort Bragg.
An honor guard carried his flag-draped wooden coffin to a grave site decorated with red, white and blue flowers. A cool, crisp wind scattered the first of the fall leaves as Army Chaplain Kenneth Kerr spoke of the soldier's sacrifice.
"He believed in the cause; he believed in his nation," Kerr said. "He gave his all for his country . . . and for the future of freedom."
A rifle volley rang out, and a bugler played taps. The honor guard then solemnly folded the flag covering the coffin and Maj. Gen. Howard B. Bromberg knelt as he presented it to Campbell's widow.
Campbell, of Middlebury, Pa., had spent his early years in Upstate New York but moved to Tioga County in Pennsylvania at 13, after both his parents died. He was raised by relatives, who took him to church and instilled in him a love for the outdoors, particularly hunting and fishing, friends said.
He was a 2002 graduate of Wellsboro Area High School, where he played tennis, served as sports editor of the yearbook and edited the school newspaper, the Hornet Herald, according to Principal Patrick Hewitt. Campbell had a penchant for good-natured practical jokes that his winning smile made easy to forgive, he said.
Hewitt, who had known Campbell since middle school, recalled how the young soldier seemed to have changed and grown more serious when he returned for a brief visit while on leave less than a year ago. He had plans to pursue a degree in criminal justice, Hewitt said.
"He became a young man through the service," Hewitt said. "He expressed how proud he was of what he was doing and how it was making a difference."
Hundreds of friends, family members and area residents came to pay their respects to Campbell at a memorial service held Sept. 18 at the high school gymnasium.
A eulogy was given by Alex Perednia, pastor of Middleburg Baptist Church, where Campbell had been active in the youth group.
"Everyone says that when Jeremy got excited about something, he worked toward a goal," Perednia said at the service. He read the assembly a letter from Campbell's superior from his first tour in which he praised Campbell's dedication. "In just a short time, he became a highly decorated soldier and was well-respected by his fellow soldiers and commanding officers."
Pennsylvania state Rep. Matthew E. Baker (R), who represents the Wellsboro area, also spoke at the memorial. "I thank Jeremy," Baker said to those who had gathered to remember the young man's life. "I thank him from the bottom of my heart for his dedication to our country while fighting for the freedom of Iraqi citizens and protecting America against future terrorist attacks."
Campbell is the 176th person killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.