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- Operation Freedom’s Sentinel
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- The People Behind The Sacrifice
Alabama Army National Guard Spc. Paul J. Bueche
Died October 21, 2003 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom
19, of Daphne, Ala.; assigned to the 131st Aviation Regiment, Army National Guard, Birmingham, Ala.; killed Oct. 21 when a tire he was changing on a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter exploded in Balad, Iraq.
Alabama Guardsman laid to rest
DAPHNE, Ala. — Under a gray October sky, family and friends of Army Spc. Paul J. Bueche gathered Monday at the church where he worshipped and attended school to lay him to rest.
Bueche, 19, was killed Oct. 21 in Balad, Iraq, when a helicopter tire he was working on exploded. Maj. Gen. Mark Bowen, adjutant general of the Alabama National Guard, posthumously awarded Bueche the Bronze Star medal at the funeral.
“He lived more in 19 years than many of us live in a lifetime,” the Rev. Timothy Deasy said at the funeral, the Mobile Register reported. “Paul gave his life for all of us.”
The sanctuary at Christ the King Catholic Church in Daphne almost overflowed with mourners dressed in black, in olive drab and in the khaki-and-white uniform of the church’s elementary school, which Bueche attended before graduating from McGill-Toolen High School.
Deasy paraphrased from the Gospel of St. John, telling the congregation, “Greater love does no one have than to lay down his life for his friends. He laid down his life for his country, for our freedom, that we might be free.”
The crowd sang from “America the Beautiful” as a seven-man honor guard from Fort Rucker, Ala., escorted the casket from the church. The funeral procession passed beneath a giant American flag held aloft by a ladder truck from the Daphne Volunteer Fire Department, and four firefighters stood at attention as the cars filed by.
At the burial ceremony, the honor guard presented the flag from Bueche’s casket to his mother, Maria Bueche. Bowen gave her the Bronze Star medal and citation, then knelt and embraced her and her husband, Emory Paul Bueche.
After the final blessing, Army Capt. Keith Scorza, the fiancÃ‚Â© of Paul Bueche’s sister, 2nd Lt. Melissa Bueche, read a prepared statement from the Bueche family.
“Paul strongly believed in what he was doing, serving in the National Guard to assist the people of the state of Alabama and to keep America safe and strong,” Scorza said. “He was helping to bring freedom and democracy to the people of Iraq and contribute to the peace and stability of the world.
“He made the ultimate sacrifice that any soldier can make to ensure that all Americans may live free and in safety.”
Bueche, a native of Baton Rouge, La., and a resident of Daphne, joined the National Guard just four days before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and was a member of Company E in the 131st Aviation Regiment, based in Birmingham.
He had served in Kuwait before transferring to Balad in August and had just been promoted to the rank of specialist before his death, family members said. The accident that killed him is still under investigation.