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Army Staff Sgt. Gary R. Harper Jr.

Died October 9, 2005 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom


29, of Virden, Ill.; assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group, Fort Campbell, Ky.; killed Oct. 9 when his reconnaissance mission was attacked by enemy forces in Baghdad.

Special Forces medic from central Illinois killed Iraq

Associated Press

VIRDEN, Ill. — An Army Special Forces medic from central Illinois has been killed in Iraq, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

Staff Sgt. Gary R. Harper Jr., 29, of Virden was killed Sunday when insurgents ambushed his unit during a reconnaissance mission near Baghdad, said Lt. Col. Hans Bush, a spokesman for Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, N.C.

Linda Morrison, Harper’s mother, said her son told his three children he was going to Iraq to protect them.

“He was a family man. He told his children he was going to go over to fight so they don’t come over here to hurt us,” Morrison told The (Springfield) State Journal-Register. “That’s who Gary was.”

Harper, who joined the Army in 1993 and deployed to Iraq in June, was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group at Fort Campbell, Ky.

Brad Paisley, who coached Harper when he played football at Virden High School about 30 miles south of Springfield, said Harper had a positive attitude.

“He’d take the rough job, the dirty job. He was a real great, hardworking kid,” Paisley told the newspaper.

In addition to his children and mother, Harper’s other survivors include his wife.

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