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Army Command Sgt. Maj. John K. Laborde

Died April 22, 2010 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom


53, of Waterloo, Iowa; assigned to the 649th Regional Support Group, U.S. Army Reserve, Cedar Rapids, Iowa; died April 22 at Kandahar Air Field, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained in a non-combat-related incident.

Funeral Mass scheduled for reservist

The Associated Press

REINBECK, Iowa — A funeral Mass will be held May 1 in Reinbeck for an Iowa soldier who died last week in Afghanistan.

Command Sgt. Maj. John Laborde, 53, of Reinbeck was an Army Reserve soldier. He died April 22 of injuries suffered from what the military says was a noncombat related incident.

The funeral Mass will be at 10:30 a.m. at St. Gabriel Catholic Church in Reinbeck. Burial will be at Woodlawn Cemetery in Oelwein.

Laborde was assigned to the 649th Regional Support Group in Cedar Rapids.


Flags to be lowered to honor Iowa soldier

The Associated Press

REINBECK, Iowa — Flags across Iowa are to be flown at half staff in honor of a Reinbeck soldier who died in Afghanistan.

Gov. Chet Culver ordered all flags in Iowa to be lowered May 1 from 8 a.m. until sunset in honor of 53-year-old Command Sgt. Maj. John Laborde. Military officials say Laborde died April 22 of injuries suffered in a noncombat related incident. Laborde’s funeral is scheduled for May 1 in Reinbeck and his burial is to be in Oelwein.

Laborde was assigned to the 649th Regional Support Group in Cedar Rapids.

Laborde’s family is to later receive the U.S. flag flown over the Iowa State Capitol on the day of his funeral.


Heart attack ruled as cause of death

The Associated Press

WATERLOO, Iowa — Military officials say a 53-year-old Iowa soldier died of a heart attack while serving in Afghanistan.

The Army Reserve says Command Sgt. Maj. John Laborde of Waterloo collapsed April 22 after leading a physical training session.

The Department of Defense had previously reported Laborde had died after a “non-combat-related incident” at Kandahar Air Field.

Laborde, who arrived in Afghanistan in August, was assigned to the 649th Regional Support Group in Cedar Rapids. He’d served in the military for 31 years.

A funeral Mass was held for Laborde on May 1. He was buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in Oelwein.

Gov. Chet Culver had ordered flags to be flown at half-staff to honor Laborde.


Took care of the men in his unit

The Associated Press

John Laborde made it a priority to take care of those around him, whether they were family members or comrades.

At Thanksgiving, he didn’t eat until everyone else had food. In Afghanistan, he made sure soldiers stayed hydrated in the triple-digit heat, and he lent them his phone and computer to talk with relatives on holidays. He also helped them register for classes to continue their education, said Lt. Col. Lawson Coapstick, who served with Laborde in the Army Reserve and called him “a soldier’s soldier.”

The 53-year-old from Waterloo, Iowa, collapsed after a physical training session and died of a heart attack April 22 at Kandahar Air Field. His unit was based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Laborde grew up and attended school in Marksville, La. His three decades of globetrotting military service began when he enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1975. He joined the Army Reserve in 1985, months before marrying his wife, Lori.

He enjoyed hunting, golfing, John Wayne movies and, as his daughter Tiffany recalled, fishing. But he had one rule: You had to bait your own hook. He also taught classes for high school students at his Catholic church.

Survivors include his five children.

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