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Army Pvt. Jesse M. Halling

Died June 7, 2003 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

19, of Indianapolis, Ind.; assigned to 401st Military Police Company, Fort Hood, Texas; killed in Tikrit, Iraq, June 7. Halling was at a military police station when his unit received rifle-propelled grenade and small arms fire.

Pfc. Jesse Halling was praised by other soldiers for his actions during a battle in Tikrit. He was at his post at a military police station when his unit began taking small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades. He ordered others in his unit to take cover while he remained at his post and returned fire until he was hit by shrapnel. Halling, a graduate of Ben Davis High School in Indianapolis, was awarded a posthumous Purple Heart and has been nominated for a Silver Star, the Army’s third-highest medal for valor behind the Medal of Honor and Distinguished Service Cross.

Soldier’s death is a reminder of Iraq dangers, mother says

Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS — Tearful mourners gathered June 17 to bid farewell to a decorated Indiana soldier who died defending his comrades when their unit came under fierce attack in Iraq.

Pfc. Jesse Halling, an Indianapolis teenager, died June 7 during a battle in Tikrit, north of Baghdad.

“There’s no greater love than this, than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends,’’ the Rev. D. Michael Welch told about 300 mourners during the service at St. Christopher Catholic Church.

Halling, 19, has been widely praised for his actions during the battle, ordering others in his unit to take cover, while he remained at his post and returned fire until he was hit by shrapnel.

“Jesse went over to Iraq to help a people have a freedom, to help a people have a peace,’’ Welch said. “If that peace is going to have any chance it has to start with us. If Jesse’s life is going to make any sense to us, we must get in our churches on our knees and thank God for the freedoms we’ve got.’’

The words of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic’’ soared to the highest reaches as three soldiers marched to Halling’s coffin and draped it with a U.S. flag.

At the gravesite at Crown Hill Cemetery, Brig. Gen. Randal Castro promoted Halling to private first class and awarded him the Purple Heart and Bronze Star.

The general gave Halling’s mother and father two American flags, folded in triangles, “on behalf of a grateful nation.’’

As a bugler played taps, seven soldiers fired a 21-gun salute. The service ended with the release of four white doves, one for the father, son and holy spirit, and one for Halling.

Halling’s mother, Pam Halling, said before the funeral that his death should be a reminder that thousands of U.S. military personnel still face danger in Iraq.

“People are still getting killed in Iraq,’’ she said. “It’s happening every day.’’

Since President Bush announced May 1 that major combat operations in Iraq were complete, 50 U.S. soldiers have been killed, according to the Pentagon.

A day before Halling’s burial, Pam Halling broke down in tears as she watched a slide presentation of snapshots from her son’s short life.

“Everything was about the military,’’ she said. “Ever since he was in kindergarten, drawing pictures of jets and helicopters and tanks it was just in him.’’

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