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Army Sgt. 1st Class Lawrence D. Ezell

Died April 30, 2008 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

30, of Portland, Texas; assigned to the 71st Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group, Fort Carson, Colo.; died April 30 in Baghdad of wounds sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his unit during combat operations.

Sgt. 1st Class Lawrence D. Ezell remembered

The Associated Press

Lawrence D. Ezell was a proud father figure for younger troops who learned from his easygoing approach to his dangerous life.

“He has been there to be my sounding board during bad times and to have a beer with during good times,” Staff Sgt. Randall Markgraf wrote in a letter read at a memorial service.

Ezell, 30, of Fountain, Colo., died April 30 in Baghdad when a homemade bomb detonated in a pile of garbage as he was trying to disarm it. He was assigned to Fort Carson.

“He saved thousands of lives,” his friend Staff Sgt. Jess Stone said. “He was a great guy.”

In a letter from Iraq, Lt. Col. Robert Merkel said Ezell’s skills were in high demand in Baghdad. “He was considered the best we have to offer,” Merkel wrote.

He was an enthusiastic soldier, but friends say he was even better at being a husband and father. Ezell talked frequently of his wife, Christy, and Stone remembers the pride Ezell showed in each milestone reached by his 2-year-old son, Tristan.

“I remember when Tristan was born,” Stone said. “He paraded that kid around.”

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